In the years 2011 through 2015, I had been through at least 20 doctors and health practitioners, with the end result equaling a debilitating career-ending diagnosis of musician’s dystonia.
Giving up playing violin was not an option. In my continuous search for a cure, I found Sophie Till, who is teaching me this amazing technique one step at a time. I’m astonished that not only does this method help me stay out of pain, but it is leading to playing with an ease that I had not previously experienced.
My performing and playing is still a work in progress, but it is amazing how quickly I was able to figure out how play a passage effortlessly this month that seemed daunting to me last year. A year ago, I was somehow performing gigs, however, I could not control my left third finger and keep it from curling. A few days ago, I successfully recorded a gypsy violin part with many fast technical arpeggiated passages with ease. Sophie’s approach has given me a solid technique to hang on to, so I am also not nervous with stage fright as I was in the past (with the dystonic finger).
I am very thankful for lessons with Sophie Till, as I would not be where I am now if it weren’t for her beautiful talent as a master teacher. I look forward to each lesson with anticipation for a new piece of the puzzle. Each lesson with Sophie builds on the last lesson, giving me the correct technique of playing a particular passage and a new solution to a particular problem of playing. I really can’t believe how well I am playing now. The saying that “when one door closes, another one opens” has never been so true. There were times that I thought I could never recover from dystonia. Every doctor and health practitioner I met told me that there is no cure and many suggested that I quit. I also had many months of very expensive botox injections in my hand and arm. Sophie’s teaching is giving me a new chance. This method through Sophie’s guidance addresses the exact physical explanations and directions of playing without tension.
I am especially excited that this method not only is helping me to play without pain, but that it leads to playing high level virtuosic music. I have renewed hope and passion once again for the possibility of making beautiful music.
Karen Naifeh Harmon
Co-conductor with the Tulsa Honors Orchestra
Fiddle player for Larkin and Violinist for “Les Femmes” String Trio
Formerly with The Tulsa Signature Symphony
Formerly with The Electric Rag Band