Hello! I've been diagnosed with essential tremor by my neurologist. I've been in denial for a couple of years since it began, blaming it on anything I could (age, lack of practice, exhaustion, stress, etc.) It hasn't kept me from playing or teaching, but it is annoying and embarrassing at times. And warming up every day is excruciatingly difficult, as I try to steady my bow hand. Once I'm fully warned up, I am better able to draw a nice, steady bow. My teacher once told me that right hand tremor ended Eugene Ysaye's performing career, so I suspect I'm not alone. Though I have not gone back to my neurologist yet to receive treatment (most likely a beta-blocker like Inderal) for this condition, I'd like to know if any of you who are experiencing essential tremor might share any helpful and encouraging insights. Thank you!
Using a beta blocker for essential tremor helps me. I've gotten it down to a very low dose - as low as 2.5 mg by cutting the pills. I started with Inderal 44 years ago, and now have a Rx for Propranolol.
Alexander, I cannot help you, but you have my sympathy.
Beta blockers work well. I can practice fine with my tremor but performance can make me shake a lot. Propranolol works very well to still the hands but it tends to blunt the fire in one's playing.
Yeah, the "fire" is not something that you can plan out, it's the rush you get from live performance that can't be faked. If I have to remember how I'm supposed to be doing it, I'm not actually doing it.
I’m so sorry, Alexander. Mine developed fairly early, and I ended up switching careers. Can’t do micro dissections if the hands won’t cooperate.
This may offer some advice
You're getting great advice and sympathy in this discussion thread.
I have one adult student, at the beginner's level, with essential tremor. I don't have any breakthroughs or miracle cures to report. We were able to make very modest improvements by: using the Suzuki/ancient style of bow hold with the thumb completely under the frog. Mark O'Connor also plays that way. 2) Not try to play soft. 3) "Russian" bow hold is working a little better than the F.--B. 4) using a tip-heavy Viola bow (!).
Many thanks to all who replied. I truly appreciate everyone's kindness in sharing your ideas and insights!
Sue - another micro-dissector here, just wondered which field you were in. I did basic neuroscience - and am very lucky that tremor has yet to find me.
In addition all this knowledgeable advice, may I humbly suggest the bowing chapters from Menuhin's Six Lessons. He overcame his increasingly awkward bowing, if not completely, at least to a remarkable degree.
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