Identity, Injury, and Rewriting a Musician’s story with Janet Orenstein: Creative Strings Podcast Ep. 29

Janet Orenstein Creative Strings Podcast Ep.29

Imagine, as a musician, if you lost the ability to use your hands.

How would you recover? How would you find fulfillment, and what would replace the void in your self image?

If you’re like most musicians, your craft is a big part of your identity, and even self worth.

A debilitating injury would clearly be devastating for most of us. But what might you learn about yourself in the aftermath, and is it possible to somehow come out better for it?

Many of us have suffered some kind of injury. We’ve worried, even maybe had nightmares about, or certainly had close calls with serious injuries.

Julliard-trained concert violinist Janet Orenstein was suddenly faced with an injury in 1996 that would forever limit her ability to use her hands to play the violin. Her story is simultaneously fascinating, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and uplifting.

On this episode of the Creative Strings Podcast she shares what she learned from the 20-year process of coming back from focal dystonia including:

  • How she found comfort in motherhood, yoga, and teaching
  • How and why the onset occurred during a concert tour abroad
  • Why she hid her injury from almost everyone for 20 years
  • How it changed her view of teaching, practicing, music, her own values and identity

I met Janet when I gave improvisation workshops at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. String players are invited to attend a wonderful summer program there this July 8-15 to study with Janet’s mentor, the incredible classical player and pedagogue Ida Bieler, and/or during the following week to study creative string playing with me. Learn more here.

As you know, it’s time to plan for summer! Learn more about the upcoming Creative Strings Workshops in DallasTorontoColumbus, and Asheville.

Thanks so much to our sponsors Yamaha and Electric Violin Shop for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like Janet’s.

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Please take a moment to visit Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings.”

While you are talking to EVS, be sure to ask them about the new Yamaha Electric Violin (you can check out my video review here). I’ve been a Yamaha performing artist for almost 20 years now and am very proud to be a part of the Yamaha family.

Learn more:

Janet Orenstein

Summer Strings at UNCSA


Clips used in this episode:

Selections from Mezzi Schizzi by Christian Howes

Check out these other great episodes of the Creative Strings Podcast:

Artistic Pursuance vs The Long Arc w/ Janie Barnett

Bryan Wilson – Cellist, Composer, Subway Performer

Intersections: Classical, Jazz, & Flamenco w/ Pablo Martín Caminero