Neuromuscular and related aspects of musical performance1

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Various musculoskeletal and neurological conditions may impair musical performance. None seems age specific and only a few are directly related to playing. The latter are largely peripheral nerve compressive disorders. The nature of the complaint can usually be identified by examination and observation of the performer. Postural correction or compensation for infirmities such as osteoarthritis may provide relief. In younger players, tension may hinder performance and may respond to relaxation techniques, coaching, or a different instructor. In older performers, disease processes may affect the nervous system. Although many conditions are treatable, occupational cramp is as disabling to musicians as it is to typists, scriveners, and telegraphers. Its overall prognosis is poor indeed, and despite valiant efforts at treatment and retraining, career change is usually the ultimate outcome. The century-old argument of neurosis versus dystonia in such disorders remains unresolved.



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