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Embouchure Dystonia: An Under-recognized Cause of Performance Impairment in Brass Players

 
 

Copyright 2017, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Frucht, S.
Journal Title: The Horn Call
Date Published: 1999
Language: English
Category: Nervous Disorders
Key Words: French horn brass embouchure dystonia performance musician
Full Citation: Frucht, Steven. Embouchure Dystonia: An Under-recognized Cause of Performance Impairment in Brass Players. The Horn Call 24, no. 9 (1999): 67-68.
Full Abstract: Many brass players may have been misdiagnosed or dismissed by medical professionals when they in fact had embouchure dystonia. Dystonia is a painless, but repetitive involuntary movement or contracting of muscles. The onset of dystonia in musicians usually occurs between twenty and forty years of age. Embouchure dystonia can be musically detected by a gradual decline in performance quality, air leaks in the corners of the mouth, especially in the upper register, and an unsteady tone in legato passages. It is often difficult to reproduce the dystonia without actually buzzing the mouthpiece, making it very difficult to diagnose. There is no cure presently for any form of dystonia. There are no treatments for embouchure dystonia specifically. Botox, or Botulinum Toxin, is given for focal dystonia; however, the weakening of the muscles is impairment in brass performance in and of itself.