Karen is a 50 year old woman who six months ago I had an ice skating accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. She has just taken up the challenge of teaching herself the fiddle. She is now totally addicted. Sometimes the worst of times can also bring about wonderful discoveries.
Ten months ago I took a fall while doing something called skatesailing ( iceskating while carrying a sail). No I was not wearing a helmet. my fall caused a traumatic brain injury. At that time I had pretty much lost my ability to speak, think, read or write or even see clearly without a lot of effort.
I had long months of therapy for speech, memory, balance, vision and cognitve struggles.
Always looking for new ways to re-stimulate those neural pathways I took up the Fiddle.
Considering that for much of my recovery time I have not been able to tolerate the sound of any kind of music. Too much stimulation. Strange how I had lost the ability to even carry a tune or whistle.
But for some reason teaching myself the basics of fiddle playing has been deeply therapeutic. I certainly am not good by any means. But I GET IT, I UNDERSTAND IT and I FEEL THE MUSIC.
To play the fiddle is to teach me lessons in focusing, breathing, relaxation and confidence. I learn by listening to fiddle music on my iPod then playing what I heard by ear, over and over and over. Sometimes I can barely lift my arms at night they are so sore from playing.
Oddly I was no longer able to carry a tune or whistle, much less tolerate the din of any kind of music around me after my TBI. But for some bizarre reason as I began to get better I got it in my head that I should teach myself to play the fiddle. I figured maybe it would be a good kind of therapy.
I discovered it gave me a kind of focus and comfort that nothing else could at that point. It has been the greatest gift that I have ever received.
My family & very generous friends say I am making progress in lots of ways. But most important to me is my fiddle sings everyday. I spend usually several hours a day playing. My playing has never felt like a struggle but a journey down my path healing myself. I don’t know if anyone out there has had any experience with the power of learning an instrument following a brain injury.
I began taking lessons a while ago. She has taught me by ear. But my teachers experience with teaching trad. Irish music is really limited. That music is my passion. So, if I am up to it my husband and I will be traveling to the County Clare region in Ireland for 2 weeks. Of course what I am most excited about is the music.