It was the end of August 1988, driving home from a summer of performing at the Aspen Festival, that I first noticed complete numbness in my right arm. I couldn’t hold the steering wheel or find any position where my arm felt comfort or relief. The thought of tendinitis had never even occurred to me. I thought the periodic shooting pains and heaviness in my arm that I had been feeling over the summer were a result of performing pressure and anxiety.
Not taking the situation very seriously, I began my senior year at the New England Conservatory with a double major in oboe and piano. Although I tried to ignore the pain, my condition worsened. I tried many types of treatment under the advice of doctors who specialized in sports injuries and the injuries of performing artists. I also underwent alternative therapies including acupuncture, acupressure, herbal remedies, vitamin therapies, meditation, yoga, massages and even hot baths, hoping something would help. Nothing did. I ended up taking the rest of the year off from school, performing, everything. I thought rest was the only answer. It wasn’t.
For fourteen years I lived life as a left-handed person. No longer could I hold anything, open a door, brush my teeth, brush my hair, cut my food, or even write. If by accident I lifted something without thinking I would get a lightning bolt of pain shooting up my arm. Unhappily I learned to cope with my limitations. My life as a performer faded away.
In 1993 I opened my own music school and decided to bring my love of music to others through teaching. It’s been a wonderful success and I’ve been privileged to hire many talented piano teachers. Ten of these have been trained in the Taubman technique, which in turn has opened my eyes to a world of new possibilities.
I have been studying the Taubman technique privately with Edna Golandsky over the past year. I can now sleep at night, I don’t wake up in pain, and I’m beginning to write, hold the steering wheel, and use my right hand in everyday activities. What’s more, I’ve been reintroduced into the world of piano playing and all the beauties therein. I’m beginning my first repertoire pieces and playing passages easily, effortlessly. Not only is piano playing now comfortable, it has ironically become my therapy.
Janet Angier, Director, Music in Chappaqua