Violinist Mayumi Masri Not Silenced by Tragic Accident

Esther Ciammachilli, WBHM

Mayumi Masri plays her violin, what she calls her "voice," less than a year after an accident that nearly severed her right arm

Alabama Symphony Orchestra violinist Mayumi Masri’s violin is like her voice. She speaks through her instrument. But on Memorial Day weekend 2017, Masri fell through a glass door and nearly severed her right arm at the elbow. She cut her artery and median nerve in the accident. And as you can imagine, she wondered whether she would ever play the violin again. Masri had two major surgeries and thus began what doctors said would be an arduous healing process.

On what it’s like to lose feeling in your hand

It’s very strange. It’s like you know that you’re making a movement. You know you are using some kind of muscles to move something, but yet you can’t feel what you’re touching. And so it’s like you’re working so hard and it’s almost like you have air in your hands. You could feel resistance, but you can’t actually feel the object in your hand. But with every day I got a little bit stronger, a little bit better, and within a couple of weeks I was able to do everything. Not 100 percent successfully, but I was definitely improving daily.

Mayumi Masri's scar following her accident Memorial Day weekend 2017.
Esther Ciammachilli,WBHM

Mayumi Masri’s scar following her accident Memorial Day weekend 2017.

On getting a second opinion

His name was Dr. Markison. All the musicians in the Bay Area absolutely recommended him. And I saw him about a month after the accident and he admitted it was a really bad injury. But my surgeon in Birmingham did a great job and I had a long road ahead of me. But he had faith that I would be able to play again. I saw him again at the end of the summer and he could not believe the improvements that I had made. He did tell me that I would be able to play the violin or go back to work before March, which was very shocking to me because at that point I still had not played the violin.

On playing the violin only three months after her accident

I actually rented a violin and bow because I was so scared I was going to drop my own bow or nick my violin or make a mark on it. And it was a little rough. I could barely do five minutes the first day. I mean it was shaky. I’d pick up the bow. I couldn’t feel it. My arm was quivering. It was awful. And I basically did five minutes a day for a couple of weeks and I got stronger in those five minutes. By the time work started back up in September I was probably up to 10 minutes a day. In October, I was probably up to half an hour hour.

On going back to work

So I came back to work November 30th. I just felt so happy that I could be back on stage with my colleagues and friends. And I actually ended up being concertmaster for that performance. I’m a title player and so part of my job is to sit in the very first chair, stand up to new orchestra, lead the orchestra and bows, and have solos. My first concert back it was a little bit scary. But they weren’t super hard, so I knew I could handle it.