Hello! My name is Amarin Sharma and I am a current senior. I have been playing the violin for the past 10 years and I would like to share my experience with an ongoing injury that has impacted my ability to play my violin. I developed tendinopathy and a muscle strain (in both of my shoulders) at the beginning of November 2022 due to shoulder overuse. My muscles/tendons were tight and imbalanced, which led to the strain and subsequent inflammation.
At first, I believed that I was just sore after an orchestra rehearsal and would feel better the next day. However, the pain progressively worsened through each practice session. At one point, I took the time to assess the situation and sought medical advice. I knew that rotator cuff injuries were common amongst violinists and I started physical therapy at the beginning of December. I ended up not playing my violin for the entire month of December which was honestly a frustrating process. This was a very tough decision but I knew that it was necessary for my recovery.
During this time, I really focused on my mobility and strength to prevent any further injury. Going to physical therapy multiple times a week, I finally picked up my violin in January 2023. I started off extremely slowly, practicing 5 minutes a day. Every day, I would assess my pain levels and adjust my practice time accordingly. To this day, I am still undergoing physical therapy and am able to practice about 30 minutes twice a day, which is a significant improvement from January.
While this was a stressful process, I have learned many valuable lessons that I would like to share. First, there is always a way to practice without physically possessing your instrument. Through the month of December when practice was minimal, I did score studying, mental practice, and listened to a variety of recordings. When I was able to practice again, even for 5 minutes, I was more relaxed than I had ever been. I was astonished! My intonation had improved and I was more musical with my playing. I would like to emphasize the score studying because it is important to know how other instruments contribute to your piece. Now, I am playing my concerto with my school orchestra and knowing their part has benefited me.
Second, remain patient. It was difficult to not just jump into what I wanted to work on because I was eager to play everything that I had missed out on. Improvement is most noticeable when slow practice is completed; therefore, patience is key. Lastly, stay positive! There will always be obstacles in the road for whatever path you take in life, and over time, you will learn to overcome those challenges.
For me personally, with regards to my violin playing, I now know that I need to take things slow and stop when I feel discomfort in order to prevent another injury from occurring. Everything, regardless of what you are doing, is a slow and deliberate process. My final advice is to approach obstacles from different angles because in the long run, having a variety of solutions will lead to positive outcomes.