Folk musician

Hello, I was diagnosed about 14 months ago. My symptoms are still mild and don’t yet interfere with daily activities so I am not yet on any medication.(I have no problem with taking medication but prefer to delay until necessary and my consultant is in agreement with this approach).However, I am a keen amateur folk musician (fiddle and tin whistle) and
am starting to have problems with my left hand. I am particularly interested in hearing from other musicians.Two questions really - do people instinctively know when it is time to start medication and what medications have musicians found helpful I know that how people react to medication varies a great deal. Grateful for any thoughts on this. Many thanks

Hi Folkmusician, and welcome to our Forum community! It’s lovely to hear that you are doing and learning everything necessary to continue playing. We just wanted to make sure you were aware of our free and confidential helpline at 0808 800 0303, along with the resources on the website, for research and support. We are happy to have another music-lover in the community (check out our Favourite Songs thread, it’s gold!) and we think you will find lots of like-minded wise and supportive folks here.
Again, welcome, and enjoy!
Moderation Team

Hello Folk musician .I struggled to learn the guitar from the age of sixty as I fancied being a folk singer in my retirement ,but as the years past my progress was dismal— I put my stiff fingers down to age but then I found my handwriting shrinking so finally gave into my wife’s wish to get to my GP ,hence to a neurologist and started on sinemet. All of a sudden I could strum to the end a song and haven’t looked back ( just need to find the courage to join with a group now! ).
The neurologist told me there is no benefit in the long run from delaying medication so why waste precious time ( as I did) if you have symptoms affecting your playing?

What an uplifting anecdote from Trevor. During lockdown, I’ve resumed piano and re-experiened (some 55 years later!) my 15-year-old self.

Must be beneficial in every way to try to keep fingers supple and a real mental challenge which makes my brain ache.

If this takes a few meds, then bring it on!

P.S. I love all music, but folk music is a real passion. (Particularly Sandy Denny and Kate Rusby.)

Best wishes and happy playing and listening.

Thanks for your reply which is very encouraging. I’ve a review with the nurse in a couple of weeks so will have a chat about starting medication, Good to know you are singing and playing!

Thanks for replying - agree that music is great for keeping fingers supple and brain active as well as being hugely enjoyable - keep playing (I hope to do so !).

Hi Folkmusician
I sympathize having been a musician myself. I studied and played the clarinet for over 50 years until the sound simply stopping in mid phrase gave me the first indication of problems in 2009. An invisible tremor was letting in air through the note holes and I had to give up playing in 2012. I wasn’t properly diagnosed with PD until 2016. My doc thought I had essential tremor.
You are on your own as to when things mean that you can no longer do justice to the instrument. Only you can decide that. I have found relief from grief by writing up concert crits for a local paper (free tickets and programmes!) and by providing programme notes for a good local orchestra. These activities keep me in touch with both the people I love and music.
PD is different for each person and you have to find your own way through any alternatives you might like to consider re meds and life style. Don’t waste years of experience and pleasure by shutting up shop… Personally I have tried HNS meds twice and have just reverted to no formal meds but using mucuna pruriens alone as the best way to control my tremor.
Keep your options open but always remember - it’s your life and your tremor. Do what you can to keep going with your music as long as you are not getting frustrated by it. Salvage your relationships with other musicians by helping them in the background. They may find ways of helping you! Think of it as being a change in direction - not abandonment. There is life in you yet and new options to explore!
Best wishes, JCPB

Many thanks for taking the time to reply. I am having trouble with keeping the holes fully covered on whistles and recorders which doesn’t make for a good sound! However, I am persisting and am also experimenting with a melodeon which I can operate with my “good” hand, I also enjoy singing so am doing a bit more of that. Interested to hear that you’re using mucuna pruriens - hope you are finding it effective. Thanks again for your reply - much appreciated.