Welcome to the thirteenth post of The Artist Series, where I interview musicians who have overcome injuries to help demystify performance-related pain and inspire musicians to better take care of their health.
Our next guest is Peter Lehmann, a trombonist and composer.
What is your name (and preferred pronouns)?
Peter Lehmann (he/him)
Where do you currently work, and what is your instrument/voice type?
I just graduated with my Master's from WMU. I’m currently working as a library supervisor. I play the tenor trombone and am a composer.
What was your injury, and how did you get injured?
My right shoulder and neck would pop. I had tight neck and jaw muscles. I’m not sure how it came about, but it probably came from improper posture, the weight and nature of the instrument itself, and trying to push myself too hard.
What were the biggest challenge(s) of your injury?
It prevented me from playing to my highest capability. It was very hard to play fast, articulate passages without tension throughout the body and caused a lot of frustration. No matter how hard I would work, I couldn’t get any better because I wasn’t really addressing the physical problem. My confidence as a player was heavily affected because I felt like I had reached my limit. It wasn’t until my current teacher suggested looking for someone who was a specialist that I approached my injury properly.
What was your recovery like? What struggles did you face trying to overcome your injury?
Recovery took place mostly over the summer of 2022. Part of the recovery was relearning how to properly stand and sit, breaking down simple movements like that. I had routines in the morning and evening to stretch and strengthen muscles. Overall, just being a more active person. There was also some mental work; meditation, new hobbies, just things overall to improve how I view myself and what I do as a musician. Problems were being consistent with myself. A lot of the process was showing up for myself each day, trying to make small changes.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during your recovery?
There’s no quick solution, at least not one that’ll be long-lasting. Best results come with small, consistent changes.
What was something that surprised you during your recovery?
I was surprised by how cumulative things are in the body. For example, a problem I have in my arm may have its origin in the back.
What are you actively doing to stay healthy and pain-free?
I have a morning routine that helps get me ready for the day and an evening routine to wind down. I also enjoy walks/running in the evening after work.
Do you have any words of encouragement for someone currently going through an injury?
It might seem like you're stuck, but you can fix it. It just takes some understanding, time, and work.
Any other final thoughts about your recovery journey you’d like to share?
It’s very hard to measure progress with this type of thing and it’s not something that’ll change your playing in just a week. I guarantee though if you invest your time in bettering yourself physically and mentally, you will see the changes you want.
What are you currently working on musically? Do you have any projects you’d like to plug?
Currently, I’m working on excerpts for auditions that I have later this year. I’m also working on some new arrangements that The Yellow Creek Jazz Project and I will play at the Elkhart Jazz Fest in the summer.