Being a disabled musician presents unique problems. I am a trumpet player who also happens to be disabled. It has not always been that way and the sudden challenges presented by a long term disability were quickly apparent. I have a condition called Dystonia which causes sudden muscle spasms and muscle weakness. It is with a certain irony that it only affects my neck and head, the very things so important to a brass player.
My instrument of choice is the Bach Stradivarius Trumpet. It is a beautiful instrument with a smooth and full tone. I love it.
My problem here is that it is not a light instrument and should my muscles decide to spasm whilst playing, I often fear it might end up in heap of twisted metal on the floor. With some thought, I decided to buy the Neoprene Sax Sling from Bach and it is now safely attached to my neck.
The pBrass Range
I play in a professional ensemble, Bader’s Big Band, an ensemble comprising of only disabled musicians. For me, the need for an excellent instrument outweighed the difficulties. For beginners or intermediate players it may be worth looking at the pBrass range. The material makes them light to hold and a lot less difficult to manoeuvre. Whilst I have both hands to play the trumpet, not all members of the band do, and it’s worth remembering that trumpets and cornets can be both held and played with either hand. It’s not easy but it is possible! Alternatively, try the pBone. For amputees, the trombone has the advantage of a slide movement rather than valves. The pBone comes in a variety of colours, and beginner bundles are also available.
Have a go with Percussion
Percussion instruments are a great way for disabled musicians to explore music. The range of instruments is phenomenal. If using a traditional drum kit, then there are a whole host of variations of placing the different drums to suit those with mobility issues. The Rocket 5 Piece Drum Kit is a great starter kit for beginners.
There is also the advantage of adding accessories to make holding equipment easier. For instance the Cowbell Holder could be adapted to hold other items. The Rocket Drum Stick Holder has a clamp and can be clamped onto stands or equipment to give extra room for holding equipment.
Disability should not be a barrier to making music. Bader’s Big Band shows this brilliantly. There may be adjustments to be made but determination and creativity can overcome these challenges!!