A guitar player's absolute worst nightmare

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by ZackP3750, May 1, 2011.

  1. ZackP3750

    ZackP3750 SS.org Regular

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    I work at the airport as a skycap, which all I basically do is curbside check-in and push people in wheelchairs. This job is super easy, as I usually bring a guitar and just jam on the curb for passengers, and I've met a ton of elderly people with amazing stories about their lives. While working last night, I helped a gentleman who was (guessing) between 55-65. He slowly walked off the plane and sat in the wheelchair I had waiting for him. He turned and handed me a yellow ticket for his gate checked bag, and he said "I have a guitar". Instantly I got excited, because I usually only see people with guitars grab them and walk off, not really getting a chance to talk to them. I asked him what he played, and he named a bunch of classic rock bands and some singer/songwriters from the 70s, and told me he wrote over 150 songs and used to gig. He told me he played at a festival in Florida some years ago and gave two 3-hour sets and was paid $300 for it. So I told him my little guitar story, and his guitar finally came up to the gate. He told me he owns a Guild made of Cocobolo (sp?) wood (looking it up, Guild's website says 20 were produced worldwide), and I was thinking how fortunate I was to be talking to this guy....


    And then he told me the most horrific thing ANY guitar player could imagine. He suffered from a stroke and has forgotten how to play guitar. He said he picks it up and remembers how he used to play, but he just can't physically play it like he used to. He struggles trying to put his fingers on correct strings and has no knowledge of what frets make what notes. He described how his brain can no longer think clear thoughts, and how he will get incredibly confused at random times. I was absolutely crushed by this man's story, and being a fellow guitar player I could never fathom not knowing how to play anymore. I gave him the best advice I could have; instead of trying to re-learn how to play guitar, try to just learn. Start small and make progress from there, and it will slowly come back. I only hope my words will have some effect on him.


    I figured I would share this story because he said something that really made me think about guitar playing in general. He said "All the things you take for granted and don't even realize...", and I reflected heavily on that. I've always thought that once I learned to play it would just stick with me forever, and I've never really thought about ever having to go without playing. But once he said that, guitar has become like a privilege that I should always be thankful for. And you really never know when that privilege could be taken away from you :noplease:
     
    steve1, mountainjam, yellowv and 9 others like this.
  2. ArrowHead

    ArrowHead SS.org Regular

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    A similar story, I read an article recently about a female guitarist (I think classical) pro who practiced so much that it caused her nerve damage, and has left irreparable damage that effected her ability to play and her entire career. I guess the explanation is that out nerves/muscles can only do the same thing over and over for a limited time. Eventually they burn out. And her years and years of running scales, arps, and finger exercises while watching t.v. with her husband caused them to burn out in just such a fashion.

    I wish I could remember who she was, or what magazine I read it in.
     
  3. Mordacain

    Mordacain 1-watt brigadier

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    It was in a fairly recent Guitar Player...last 4 months or so. She was a classical guitarist and has had to work around the burned out nerves so she has to play in a completely different physical way (different hand positions use different nerves apparently). Wish I could remember her name...
     
  4. Esp Griffyn

    Esp Griffyn Play more music

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    Jeff Owen, the rather talented young drummer in Carcass had a stroke and completely lost his ability to play. Very sad, stopped any hope of a Carcass reunion and wrecked his life forever. Last I read he was recovering but still not even close ready to sit at a drum kit, but this was several years ago. It's never going to happen now :(
     
  5. Static

    Static Metal Meister

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    ^you mean Ken Owen.These stories really leave me thinking for a long time.
     
  6. Meatbucket

    Meatbucket The Minotaur

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    Carcass had a reunion tour in the States a couple years back. It was with Daniel Erlandsson rather than the great Owen, but he still came out and played a little drum solo for the fans. Of course from his stroke he couldn't do anything crazy but he still came out and beat some drums. It honesty almost brought me to tears, for many different reasons. It was a fantastic show.
     
  7. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    Ever been in a store looking at the greatest guitar you've ever had in your hands, wondering why someone was getting rid of something set up so well, and learning that the person was selling it because they decided to play a keyboard because they had lost their entire left arm, and then you realized that the guy who had been crying on that woman's shoulder while you were playing was the dude who would never make that wood sing in that way again?

    I have.

    ----

    The idea that nervous tissue would "wear out" sounds very odd. Repetitive stress is a completely different thing, but I've never heard, for example, of a deaf person who could no longer use sign language, or of a postal carrier who could no longer walk due to nerve damage.

    I wonder when Steven Hawking's brain will suddenly freeze up... but it seems very unlikely....
     
  8. SirMyghin

    SirMyghin The Dirt Guy Contributor

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    Thanks for sharing OP, that is a very frightening thought.


    That is pretty wild, albeit if you are practicing on couches and stuff a lot I would call posture into account. Bad posture puts more strain on tendons, joints and compression on parts that shouldn't. I would like to beleive a classical player would sit up striaght all the time, but who does.
     
  9. Axel

    Axel SS.org Regular

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    Was it Liona Boyd?
    I once had to stop playing guitar for a year after damaging some tendon in my wrist myself. It sucks cuz I feel like I'm never going to have the speed and dexterity that I had when I was younger.
    I'd say don't just appreciate your instrument but also be careful. Overpracticing and having bad left hand technique can do this to anyone.
     
  10. ArrowHead

    ArrowHead SS.org Regular

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    No, like she literally WORE OUT the nerves in her fingers. We're talking about a LOT of repetition.
     
  11. ArrowHead

    ArrowHead SS.org Regular

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    Yes, thank you! Here is an article I found about it, once you mentioned the name.

    Liona Boyd funnels pain from neurological disease, divorce into new album -  


    The problem is that the repetition burned out the nerve receptors in her brain. Nothing to do with bad posture or anything, our bodies just aren't built to do the same exact things over and over for 40+ years.
     
  12. Esp Griffyn

    Esp Griffyn Play more music

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    Whoops, got the name wrong. As much as Owen having a stroke, I thought Bill Steer's infatuation with dull 70s rock was a massive shame too.
     
  13. Static

    Static Metal Meister

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    "Her insecurity over her voice was deep-rooted. At six years old, she says she was kicked out of a choir because she couldn't sing. More recently, Ozzy Osbourne - a neighbour of Boyd's when she lived in Los Angeles - recommended she visit his vocal coach, who then told her she was too old and would never be able to sing."

    Now that's just too sad.
     
  14. GalacticDeath

    GalacticDeath SS.org Regular

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    If I suddenly couldn't play guitar anymore, I guess the only thing I could do is just start over. You can't give up on something you have so much passion for. Do the movements for the sake of the movements, enjoy the simple things.
     
  15. mountainjam

    mountainjam SS.org Regular

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    That story was quite touching...thanks for sharing
     

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