Things Are Seldom What They Seem: The Wisdom of Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener

Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener is arguably the pre-eminent physician in the world of music medicine.  Several years ago, Polyphonic asked her to write an overview of her experience with common musician injuries, and give her advice to instrumentalists about finding the proper diagnosis and care.

She responded with a somewhat whimsical article, quoting Little Buttercup from HMS Pinafore, but full of excellent common-sense advice for getting sound medical care. She warns against self-diagnosis or “diagnosis by stand partner,” and offers a list of questions to ask yourself about your situation or injury, to assess whether it is serious or will go away by itself.  She states that, “more people walk into my office with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, based on their stand partner’s diagnosis, than emerge from my office with that diagnosis.”

She offers advice on how to determine what are “good” sources of information on the Internet, and discusses the pros and cons of alternative medical procedures.

I had the good fortune to be Dr. Alice’s guest for lunch at her lake-side apartment when I was in Chicago for the League conference a few years back. She was as gracious in person as she was during our many telephone conversations. Over her long and distinguished career, she has taken enormous strides in advancing physicians’ understanding of the unique nature of musician health issues and injuries.

Dr. Brandfonbrener’s article is my first Editor’s Choice selection, as it is a must-read article for all instrumentalists and particularly those suffering an injury or chronic medical problem.

Click here to read Things Are Seldom What They Seem by Alice Brandfonbrener.


About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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