Guitar playing with Parkinson's Disease

Hello, my name Tom. I am 66 years old and Parkinsons has been with me for the past 5 of my life’s journey, at least from the point of view of diagnosis!. It started with a two-fingered twitch when stressed and has become a right sided tremor coupled with occasional speech problems.

As a guitar player, PD has robbed me of my right hand strumming and finger picking skills whereas my left hand holds down chords and does all the skillful things expected of it. My medication at the present time is Rasagiline and Pramipexole. These days, I can cry at the drop of a hat and find it hard to converse face to face though I am totally lucid on the inside and I communicate via the keyboard for hours at a time!

How do I see “my” PD?..all things considered, I feel that 5 years down the line, I could be a lot worse off. If my body is a machine, then my conveyor belt is broken!


Hi , I play guitar too … was profesional … Parkinsons has made it hard to continue as I was … only a year and a half into this but … my picking is slower and my right hand dexterity much less … I strum my songs …no meds for me just now… I write songs … performed last at an open mic yesterday and stopped the room … dont give up … I’m not … not yet any way :wink:


Hi Maurice, I think the same thing applies to piano playing etc-in fact anyone who plays an instrument is blighted by PD. Keep up the good work of pleasing audiences and all the best to you👍

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Hi, thanks for your kind wishes… all the best to you …

Hi I play keyboard and guitar. I have been diagnosed for over 2 years. At 1st I was just missing notes but now I have difficulty stopping my thumb shaking in the left hand.Makes it difficult to play at all. Nurse said I must carry on as it helps control Parkinsons

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Hi Prentonboy. My initial medication was Rasagiline but when I mentioned my lack of guitar dexterity, she had me put on Pramipexole which is meant to help with such things. I am on 1:57 mg at present and still trying my hardest. Morning time seems best for playing👍

Sorry, “she” in my above reply is my Parkingson’s nurse!

Hi … just got to keep on keeping on … I am not n the meds as yet … holding off for as long as I can … still playing as much as poss :wink:

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Had to give up semi pro music bass, guitar and double bass. Life with PG is crap!

Sorry to hear that Spam95

I’m on Propranolol to stop the shaking. It doesn’t seem to work I generally play the keyboard early evening so perhaps should try morning. Thanks again

Hi Tom,
Every day I pick up either my guitar or my 5string Bluegrass banjo and try playing. Some days I can manage to play a bit others not so. Like you, I miss being able to do finger picking. I have started to learn Blues Harmonica. It’s just something to keep me playing something

Great to hear that👍Maybe I might try the old harmonica. I went only last night to a local pub ukulele evening and found that playing ukulele is easier to get on with now than the guitar. Power to all us music lovers.

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Hi Tom
Like you I used to play guitar. I have had PD for twelve years. I have six guitars hanging on my wall that I can’t play anymore. I find it difficult to press the steel strings down. Now i play an ukulele instead. It is much easier than the guitar and you can play three different types of uku that all have the same tuning and chord patterns. I also have a baritone uke and that is tuned to the first four strings of a guitar, so that is like playing a guitar but easier. One note chords. Yes. Another good thing about ukuleles is their cheap.

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I sold my guitars last year as my weak left hand plus very bent fingers from arthritis or contracture make chords impossible to play. My right hand is fine though so we could play a tune between the two of us. Still singing on a regular basis so all is not lost. Musics in my blood so i have a do something. The harmonica sounds a good idea.
In harmony

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Hi Trefor. Such a shame and frustrating too! This disease likes to take stuff away and it would be so nice to get it back for just one day! Keep up the fight.

Good man … I play harp too … keeps me playing, Jamming live is fun …

I played professionally years ago. I’m 51 diagnosed five years ago. I took playing up again and it is frustrating. “I knew this!” Syndrome. I’m on meds. Great neurologist.I’m approaching it as little victories. I told my wife the other day. Get a stick. Duct tape a pick to it and try to play. Lol leads are extremely difficult. No more metal or seems so have moved into more strumming and funk. I can get about two songs out before i get tired and lose control. I get it. I’m focusing on technique that i know i can achieve

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I play tenor horn and french horn. Until I started medication - Azilect and Madopar - I could barely get a note out because of the tremor. Now I’m back to playing - but at the cost of constant nausea. All very depressing, but at least I have my music.

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If it helps JD, try using a very flexible pick made from cardboard. I find trying to hold a plastic one just doesn’t work for long. Losing the use of a gift isn’t nice but it’s better than the alternative. I wonder what it’s like for an artist to get PD :thinking:

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