David Leisner is a classical guitarist and composer who won top prizes in the 1975 Toronto and 1981 Geneva International Guitar Competitions. He was struck with focal dystonia in the 1980s, a disorder that affected his right hand when playing guitar. His intense study of large-muscle groups led to him healing himself, and he now teaches these discoveries to students as an expert on focal distonia.
1. Don’t be afraid of large motions. Small motions often create tension. Freedom of motion is more important than economy of motion.
2. Generally, the way to allow the large muscles to work in either arm is to feel the natural weight of the arm falling, even in upward motions that are away from gravity.
3. In the left hand, don’t squeeze the neck between the thumb and fingers. Rather, let the fingers drop to the strings from the top, or knuckle (metacarpophalangeal) joint. That includes the bar finger, which should be snapped lightly and effortlessly to the string, originating the movement from the top joint, not the arm.
4. Study the healthy alignment of all parts of your body. Highly recommended are Alexander technique, Feldenkrais method, Pilates, tai chi, and yoga.
5. Pay attention to tension in your legs and pelvic area and to your breathing, which are often sources of tension in your upper body.