The Beat Goes On

Tendonitis fails to limit percussionist


Eshwar Murali

As a member of the pit orchestra, junior Jonathan Rattenborg performs in the spring musical, Spongebob Squarepants, to create sound effects. Rattenborg used a multitude of different instruments to perform this role such as the conga and cowbell.

Eshwar Murali, News Sports Editor

From breaking an arm, playing football or falling off of a tall ladder, acts of athleticism and manual labor cause various physical injuries. However, in the case of junior Jonathan Rattenborg, the cause of his injury is more unorthodox.

Rattenborg is a percussionist in the Lafayette Symphonic Band, the Lancer Regiment, Home Court Advantage and the pit orchestra. He was diagnosed with tendonitis from excessive forearm use during his freshman year.

“It started at the beginning of quarantine. I was drumming for hours a day because I had nothing to do,” Rattenborg said. “It used all the muscles in my forearms and it was straining them and I didn’t realize it.”

This muscle fatigue only got worse, and after a while, the pain got so concerning that Rattenborg realized something was seriously wrong.

“[It felt] like pins and needles, sharp pain in my arms, constantly,” Rattenborg said. “I stopped playing for a month and I went to a doctor and they said it was tendonitis.”

Rattenborg stopped using his forearms due to the pain caused by tendonitis, but that only caused a different source of the pain.

“I had physical therapy for the first time and it was really painful at first because when you stop using a muscle, it decays,” he said.

It took Rattenborg three months to build back the strength in his forearms to drum again, and he is still recovering the drum skills he had before his injury.

“Honestly, it’s super depressing. My freshman year, I was gung ho, full send, all band. It was awesome. Got super into it and it was like my hobby. I had a bunch of other hobbies and I kind of stopped doing them because band became my main hobby. I was getting a lot better, and then I couldn’t,” said Rattenborg. “It killed me to sit in class and watch everyone else playing. I felt like I was letting everyone down.”

While Rattenborg recovered from tendonitis, the Rockwood Winter Percussion Ensemble started. This district-wide ensemble was composed of the best percussion players in the Rockwood School District competing in the Winter Guard International (WGI) competition. Even though Rattenborg was signed up for the ensemble, he was unable to play due to his injury.

“That was very sad. That was like a really big deal, and we don’t have the Rockwood Winter Percussion Ensemble anymore. That was just a one-year thing. We did well, we made it to like WGI finals. I just wanted to be able to be a part of that group and play because that was a really good experience and I had to miss out on it,” Rattenborg said.

Despite this injury taking away opportunities such as the Rockwood Winter Percussion Ensemble, Rattenborg has been able to take away a positive from the experience.

“This has sparked me into pursuing physical therapy as a degree and doing that in my future. So it’s very interesting to me now, to help other people with their injuries and problems,” Rattenborg said.

Even though he has had many setbacks caused by his injury and no longer wants to pursue a musical career, Rattenborg plans to continue his passion.

“It’s still a very big part of my life,” Rattenborg said. “I don’t ever want to stop playing my instrument.”