After I retired in 1999, I never picked up the Trombone again, and within 2 years had sold my collection of instruments. Attending concerts was very difficult during that time. I found myself quite emotional, especially watching friends perform - it was just too raw. It’s been many years since then, and over that time I’ve met many professional musicians whose career was ended by Focal Dystonia - each one of them has a story. Some have moved away from music, like a friend of mine who is now a jeweler. Some stay in music by teaching and others take quite a while to find a direction. Ask yourself - how would you handle it if the career you had prepared for over most of your lifetime fell out from under you? It’s an uncomfortable and challenging question, which everyone answers differently.
In addition to a robust administrative position that gave me financial stability and used much of my skill set, I stayed in music as an educator. I still teach trombone, chair a brass department, teach brass fundamentals and brass seminar, and conduct the brass ensemble at our school. In addition, I conduct orchestra repertoire, the ballet and modern dance productions, and cover the first week of orchestra when we have a guest conductor in. I must admit that it is all very fulfilling, and there are days I’m grateful for losing the ability to play trombone. I know, it’s a shocking statement. But to age in this business, and continue to learn every day is a gift – one that I appreciate daily when I wake up and look forward to going to work.