in december 0f 2008 i was seriously injured. since that time i have had six major surgeries, numerous assorted procedures, several modalities of therapies, just about anything you can think of and as a result i some serious neurologic deficits. i am not looking for sympathy or pity so please condolences are of little use for me at this time. i know for a fact that my left arm and leg will never be the same, but they function adequately enough. my problem is an overwhelming "fear" of playing even now when i am alone. i could not even sit at my piano for a long time and the ability to articulate my left shoulder was only restored surgically a year ago. i do believe i can return to playing in a diminished capacity, but my head prevents me from even trying. i have considered counselling, hypnosis, and other remedies but i have no confidence in there ability to help me. this is a difficult subject for me to broach and i will appreciate any and all suggestions. i truly am at a loss as to how to proceed. i thank you all in advance for any and all help. i can delineate the extent and nature of my injuries if that might be helpful, but i truly believe my greatest problems are within the confines of my head. i know that i will never return to my former ability, but having played for more than forty years i would like to at least achieve some return of respectability with what remains. please if you can offer any solution, do so. i will be forever in your debt. thanks.
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wow.  i didn't know you were going through all that.  i'm not dealing with injuries such as yours, but boy can my head do a number on me.  

i'm not sure this is the forum to discuss your fear, but perhaps if you could describe it a bit, that might be the place to start.  are you afraid you are not going to sound as good as before, even if you work at it? if so, as difficult it may be, it might be better to confront it and deal with it sooner rather than later.  it might also help to acknowledge and accept the fact that any learning or re-learning process is best achieved by taking baby steps. try to accept the challenge and enjoy the ride.

that's my 2 cents for the moment.  i sincerely hope that you can kick it and get back to enjoying playing

sorry to hear dennis.  i think the most important thing is to keep your injured muscles active.  it may seem counterintuitive, but if you don't keep your injured muscles active they will continue to deteriorate.  

as for the psychology, have you checked out kenny werner's book effortless mastery?  it can do wonders for your head problems.  also, zen and the art of archery and the inner game of music.  
hey man, i had no idea you were going through this stuff!  it sounds like you are  experiencing one of the most difficult periods of your life.

i'll preface this with saying that i'm not a professional anything, any advice i give is based purely on my own experiences and of those close to me.  and as i don't exactly know where you're at as far as personality and who you are goes, i can only guess at things.  but i'll give it a shot!  you've been a part of the ljp family for a long time and for good or ill, we answer questions here!

it may be speaking the obvious, but i truly believe in the old saying, "it's not what you got, it's how you use it."  in my own touch with mortality, the lumbar area of my spine is filled with tumors.  my left calf muscle and part of my left hamstring have atrophied so that i constantly limp around unless i'm really concentrating.  while this has nothing to do with piano playing, the rest of my life is based on things that i need my left leg for because i'm a physically active guy.  i know i can never be as proficient in various sports as i once was, i can never run like i used to, never to a lot of things the way i used to do them... but i do my best.

i also always strive to be myself.  that goes for piano playing too- i'll never be the next monty alexander or oscar peterson, i'm only scot ranney, but i'm really good at being scot ranney.

you may never play again like you played before, but none the less, you are w. dennis sorrell and that means whatever you are trying to do, do it your way.

if that means playing with the right hand and hoping your left can keep up even a little bit, that's what it means.  if we shine the flashlight of awareness behind us or ahead of us, we forget what's going on where we're at.

and that's what is important- where we're at.  not where we came from or where we are going, none of that really matters.  you probably know the importance of living in the moment due to your injuries and rehab.  don't forget about that when you sit down at the piano.  it's what you do right now that counts.

i don't know if you're the kind of guy who faces a challenge head on, or if you're the kind of guy that follows habitual responses to stimulus, or what.  but i'd say the way to break through anything is to do what you want to do, habits be damned.

live for right now man and do what you can to enjoy your experience at the piano.  forget about what you used to be able to play, forget about what you wish you could play, and just make some noise.

last but not least there's something i believe in.  when i'm playing i'm not making the music.  i'm just a channel for the music.  the music is already out there, i'm just a conduit.  i don't think it matters if one hand works, both hands work, or no hands work, you can always be a channel for the music.

good luck man, all the best!
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
i can fuly understand your concern about counselling therapies etc because it is so difficult to 'find the right one' for the area in which you need help. i do think and i do hope that you will get more advice and support here.

from my experience, when faced with a similar situation and having to 'realise' or 'come to terms with' playing issues, i decided to try to change slightly what i 'do' in music to just keep in touch.  i chose to concentrate on comping, different styles to suit my problems etc. i'm making progress, slowly but have so much enjoyed playing with others that i very much feel part and enjoy this, although we are all rank amateurs.

may i suggest that you concentrate less on the area that is giving you trouble and perhaps think about learning what and how you do with music, for example, changing playing style, as i did or, more significantly, learn another instrument that is suited to your physical difficulties.  reference dr john below, a reall good working guitarist who lost his finger and is now a renowned jazz pianist?

a prolific session player who started recording in his mid-teens, dr. john has become a living legend of new orleans piano. dr john, see link below lost partial use of one finger on his left hand in a shooting incident whilst he was playing guitar with a group. he switched to playing piano from then on and enjoyed a great musical career. see link below.

read more: />
hope to help - don't give up!!!
i don't know if this would help with the head issues, but you could listen to some of oscar peterson's late-period recordings.  his left hand capacity was severely diminished after his stroke in 1993 (though with therapy he was able to improve it somewhat) and he focused on a right-hand dominant style thereafter for the rest of his career.  

similarly, the classical pianist leon fleisher suffered from right hand paralysis throughout all but the earliest years of his career and focused exclusively on existing and newly commissioned repertoire for the left hand alone. he also redirected his energy into becoming a respected conductor.

if you listen to recent recordings, you can hear that even b.b. king appears to be suffering from physical ailments of some sort relating to his playing.  while his playing has become more sparse as a result, you can hear that he puts just as much thought into playing the right notes at the right time to make them count.

one thing emphasized in cultures outside of "the west" is that everyone has the capacity to make meaningful music regardless of their degree of technical ability.  find what you can do with the tools you still have. on a practical note, you might consider experimenting more with and mixing in organ and synth styles that are traditionally more right-hand dominant.

best of luck.
this sounds truly awful - so sorry for your difficulties.  i have two suggestions

it sounds to me like you have developed an anxiety disorder, in association with your trauma, i'm sure.  there is no substitute for a good psychiatrist - you should try a regimen of anti-anxiety meds, most likely an ssri (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor).  it takes several weeks to get to a therapeutic dose, and about 3 weeks to figure out whether it is helping or not.  you need a psychiatrist to do this and it will take a few appointments over a few months.

the other thing you can do right now - "baby steps". if you cant sit at the piano, just plink out a note when you go by.  one note, until you get used to it and it doesn't bother you any more.  then two notes, maybe three.  you may be able to extend your time and be able to site at the piano.  baby steps is a common technique.

you've always been a good friend to me, so i believe it important to give you my take.

physical limitations aside, it appears that you're too depressed to get back to the piano. is this same depression affecting other things that you want to do and/or used to take pleasure in?

if so, it's not just a piano issue. get to the shrink.

if it's just a piano issue, then you have to do what you did when you first started out:

force yourself to do it.

how does one learn to play with two hands? the same way you have to learn how to juggle:

force yourself to do it.

sure you're going to drop some balls, sure you might have forgotten a ton of stuff and feel like you're starting from scratch.

ask yourself why you started learning piano in the first place and go back to that place to revisit your original motives.

and keep in mind that you might have surpassed your "piano phase" and have evolved to a different stage of your life. remember when one door closes, another one opens.

keep your options on the table.

rather than spending time lamenting what you have lost in the past, spend your time planning what you intend accomplish in the future.
i've been struggling with depression most of my life.  it seems to come from no where.  once i pinpoint it's origin, i realize that is not the origin at all. it seems to move around from one thing to another.  to me, depression just "is".  it comes and goes.  i use the "turd in the river" analogy.  sometimes it's better to let it pass you by, than to deal with it.  i've learned over the years to recognize it and feel it, but i avoid making any serious decisions while i'm experiencing it.  that is not easy to do.  i still falter and find myself making comments i later regret.

on the bright side, depression has been the impetus for creativity in many artists, due to the intense emotions and thoughts that are triggered by it.  some artists consider it a gift, which is kind of a healthy attitude.  personally that's when i enjoy playing the piano the most; at home. by myself.

unfortunately, it can also lead to self-destructive behavior, in which case,  counseling and medications can really help. however, those can dull your senses a bit and reduce levels of curiosity and creativity.  a tricky balancing act for sure.

we all hope you can bulldoze though this, dennis!  please keep us posted
hi dennis:

sometimes we must make major changes in our lives. if you were a good pianist for many years, now you can be an excellent teacher in private classes at your own home.
with a midi keyboard, you can enjoy music at home more easily than in a normal piano.
with mind control you can improve your health. when you lie down to sleep at night, think that your whole circulatory system is recovering, it is becoming normal, and in the same way all your muscular system, your nervous system, your brain ... all your organs are recovering and are being normal. all cells are becoming standard, damaged cells are easing, and the cells are regenerating. sure you will soon notice a big improvement in your health .
i wish you much positive energy to overcome this difficult situation that you are living.
good luck,
i am weighing in late here, but couldn't help responding to this bad news.  i agree with the posts so far and would also add to glanddoc's reccomendaton that if you go on ssri's be sure you follow up with regular counseling.  specifically you want cognitive based therapy.  that will help you work through your specific issues.  so there are many solutions, and i will keep you in my thoughts in the coming weeks.  please update us on your progress my friend.
sorry that it has taken so long to give an update, things seem to move exceedingly slow for me. i have seen several doctors and in addition to the ssri's they have recommended a psychologist with whom i am going to start having sessions that include cognitive based therapy. i know that i am deeply depressed and suffer from ptsd. my issues run deep and consistent throughout my life so yes it is not just my musicianship that is affected. i appreciate all the kind words and suggestions, i now only need to get better and start enjoying life yet again. i consider you all as very important persons in my life and i do sincerely thank you for all of your assistance. thank you each and every one.
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