September 24, 2021, 7:04 AM · Everyone has been so helpful to me over the close to 3 years I've been on this forum that I wanted to give the final update on health, violin, and hammered dulcimer.

As some may recall, I set aside my violin for at least a period of time and moved to the hammered dulcimer for a variety of neck, shoulder, and arm reasons. The laundry list of physical problems don't matter at this point, outside of one. As we've discovered, the blue arm caused by thoracic outlet syndrome when trying to play turned out to have a final root cause of significant calcification on my collar bone from a break at 13 (upper arm was also broken). I KNEW about this, of course, the calcification is why my shoulder arthritis is as bad as it is - my left shoulder hasn't moved properly since I was 13. I adjusted, however, and have always found a workaround.

The calcification, I'm told, means there is indeed a true physical barrier causing the TOS, and there is no amount of rest that will fix that. It's either give up the violin totally or have surgery. As a 61 year old hobbyist I am not about to have collar bone and possibly rib surgery so I can play. There are far healthier options.

My Hammered Dulcimer arrived last Saturday, and my first lesson is this afternoon :-) My teacher has played Classical/Baroque, as well as European and traditional folk music on the HD, and other instruments, for many years and has both a PhD and a Masters. He also has a great reputation as a teacher - he understands my situation and enjoys teaching beginners. He also has published a fair number of books for the beginner through advanced, one of which has a sizable number of classical music arranged for the HD.

So one journey ends (not ready to sell my violin just yet) while another begins. Thank you again for all of the kindness and help shown me over the past few years, it really helped me. While the violin proved to not be a sustainable option for me, these last 2.5ish years has shown me just how important making music is to me. That, is priceless.

Replies (8)

September 24, 2021, 7:45 AM · "As a 61 year old hobbyist I am not about to have collar bone and possibly rib surgery so I can play."

But if it affects other areas of your life, you may have to take that into consideration.

September 24, 2021, 9:14 AM · Gordon - at this point it doesn't. Well, it really has over the years but I didn't know what it was. The damage has long been done - the real time to have addressed this was when I was a teen and still growing. If it does start impacting other areas of my life then, of course, I'll reconsider at that time. I've had so many blasted ortho-related surgeries that it would have to be pretty extreme for me to consider yet another one. Fixing it now would not fix the truly jacked shoulder...
September 24, 2021, 10:19 AM · Just a word of caution--please build your practice time gradually on the hammered dulcimer. A friend of mine had to take off work due to shoulder injury from cutting cheese for party trays in the deli section of the local supermarket; very close to the same motion as playing a hammered dulcimer!
September 24, 2021, 10:36 AM · Yay! The advice to not practice too much at the outset is wise.
Edited: September 24, 2021, 8:25 PM · An arrangement (by my new teacher) for hammered dulcimer and orchestra (in this case a young orchestra). LOTS of pizzicato! Outside of that, you will see how calm his body language is - especially compared with some HD players on YouTube.

The one lone violist who is holding her bow does draw attention. Perhaps it didn't feel right to her to play without her bow in hand even if she didn't get to use it?

September 27, 2021, 3:45 AM · Looking forward to hear more about your progress.
September 27, 2021, 6:16 AM · Hammer away, Catherine! Looking forward to your first YouTube. :)
September 27, 2021, 11:19 AM · LOL Paul, I don't know about that but you never know :-) I HAVE, finally, fully accepted the online learning environment.

It's also great to have a teacher properly setup for it - the man has multiple cameras that seamlessly switches as he needs. He has gone to a lot of effort to optimize his online teaching environment. I also have signed up for beginner workshops at two quite large hammered dulcimer festivals the next few weekends and am looking forward to it!

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