I had been having extensive trouble with the more physical aspects of my violin playing for almost two years, and the renowned violin maker David Segal recommended that I pay a visit to Dr. Tatz, a world famous "body tuner" located in the heart of Manhattan. Dr. Tatz is no ordinary physical therapist - he is a true master of his craft, and he understands not only the fine details of how the human body works and how it can be manipulated and repaired, but also the specific needs of musicians, dancers, athletes, and other entertainers who rely heavily upon their own bodies as an expressive medium. He knows that we rely on our bodies for our professions, and his treatment is designed to get us back in the game as quickly as possible, when taking time off is not an option. Many doctors and physical therapists do not understand that if we were to take two or three months off of our jobs, we would not be able to make the rent - Dr. Tatz understands not only this, but his comprehension of the human body in general is unrivaled by any other physician or therapist I have ever been to.
When I first started going to Dr. Tatz, I could barely play my violin for more than fifteen minutes at a time without being afflicted by debilitating pain that would sometimes take hours to subside; my mobility was severely limited to the point that even mundane tasks had become difficult, such as using dining utensils, or holding a toothbrush, or even trying to write with a pen. After my first session with Dr. Tatz, my mobility increased by what I estimate to be about seventy-five percent, and I was able to play the violin for an hour the next day. I went back for another appointment the day after that, and my mobility was increased even further, and the next day, I was able to practise the violin for an hour and a half, and my pain was greatly nullified. After three weeks of sessions, I was able to play the violin for at least three to four hours every day, and almost all my pain was gone; my mobility was almost completely restored. It has been a month since I stopped going to Dr. Tatz for regular treatments, and continuing with the exercises he prescribed to me, I am able to play the violin for seven to eight hours a day with little to no pain, and I see improvement every week. The residual pain I feel is as a result of inflammation that built up over two years' time; continuing with Dr. Tatz's recommendations and exercises has been reducing my inflammation gradually over the last few weeks, and now I am able to play with more freedom and comfort than I have felt in the last two years; my violin teachers comment that I have made more improvement in the last month alone than I made all last year.
I searched long and hard for a solution to my problems, spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars taking lessons with various teachers who claimed they could solve my pain problems, seeing Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais specialists who claimed that if I listened to everything they said about body awareness, my pain would dissipate (end result: if anything, my pain got worse after seeing these people).
The month I spent going to Dr. Tatz was, in my opinion, as important to my well-being and to my artistry as a full year of violin lessons.
By Brian Lee