Guitar playing with Parkinson's Disease

Thank you Jason for your warm welcome. I will look into the other resources as well. Thank you for your commitment as well.

Have a good day

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UPDATE: 3 years on and I’ve returned to the forums to shine a light on this topic again, mainly for those with the disease that might benefit from my experiences. I’m in a good place now, relative to a slow decline in my left hand (still only noticeable here). The bradykinesia is the main problem not the shaking, the shaking comes with any sort of emotional response, stress, anxiety, happiness, facing an audience for the first 5 minutes. But this will tend to stop once I am concentrating on my playing and remembering what I’m doing for solo’s etc. I have gone through COVID and got through the other side as we all have, most of my PD consultant and nurse appointments until the past year have been facetime or phone conversations. I am currently on what I think is a huge amount of tablets each day (I think 19 if I counted right) but if I take them at the right regular times they can often negate the problem I have with playing, in fact sometimes (and it is random to some degree) my left hand almost feels ‘normal’ again and I can noodle along at pace without worrying if I can play that lick or complete the scale. One very interesting thing I have found came from what I believed would be something the consultant was going to ‘tell me off’ about, which was that I had started overdosing to give myself a boost of my Ropinirole or madopar, before practice. This did seem to have a noticeable effect on whether my left hand was going to be frozen or not. I admitted my misdemeanour to my consultant and they actually said that it was ok. Disclaimer, I would strongly advise you speak with your consultant before doing what I did, but in the medium term at least I now choose to ‘boost’ myself when I think I’ll need it. For example I am playing tonight, as always I am stressed because I am trying to time my meds to coincide with when I am going to be playing (9-11.30pm). My second set is the more technical one with more complicated solos and faster riffs (The Trooper anyone?). All I can do is hope that I get my timing right and my hands is unfrozen during those hours, so I am delaying my Ropinirole but a few hours today and having an extra 2mg about an hour before we play. If my hand is not released from the grip of PD when we play I’ll have to wing it and hope that I’m not so bad the audience notice. I think in my experience the adrenaline helps a little but there is very little I can do if it doesn’t want to respond.
So anyone reading this that can play guitar, studies appear to show that playing the guitar helps with PD, even if you haven’t ever played before taking up the piano or any instrument for that matter can exercise both your brain and physical self. I would highly recommend it. Also keep up your fitness level as best as you can, I work full time and my job is stressful so my fitness is not as it should be, but I am determined to claim back my fitness, its just so much harder now I’m over 50 (Excuses excuses!). I have however been playing a lot of disc golf since 2019, something else I would highly recommend, you can find your closest course on Udisc website, its not a major cardio workout but you get your steps in, get outdoors and its an easy to take up sport (massive in North America and Scandinavia).
Anyway I’ve rattled on too long but I genuinely hope anyone out there that plays can benefit from reading this.

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Is it still working for you and have you managed to overcome the nausea?

Musicians who have difficulties with one hand but are OK with the other could try a Theremin.
When playing a Theremin you don’t touch it. One hand just has to go up and down to control volume while the other needs controlled movement to play the tune. It is usually the left hand for volume but if you stand on the other side of the instrument it is the right hand.
Theremins can be easily adjusted so that on a good day you need very fine movement and on a bad day much cruder movement.
You need to be aware that playing a recogniseable tune on a Theremin can take a lot of practice. On the other hand it is very easy to make really wierd noises which I find is a good way to relieve frustration on bad days.

Sorry I’ve been so long replying. Haven’t logged in here for ages. The nausea went eventually but I started to develop a twitchy leg when playing. Bit embarrassing when you are in the front row. My neurologist said I might be over medicated so I cut down to a full 100/25 Madopar in the morning, a half tablet at about 1.30pm and the other half at about 7pm. (Plus Azilect in the morning.) I’ve been doing that for a couple of years and I’m just starting to feel I need to increase a bit. My main playing problem at the moment is arthritis in my thumb joint means that I’m finding playing French horn for any length of time very uncomfortable - so I’m just playing at home. Tenor horn is OK in the band but I’ve dropped down to 2nd horn because the fast passages are a bit beyond me. I just feel happy to be able to be still involved. I’m nearly 6 years post diagnosis and 80 years old, so not doing too badly - most days! I’m convinced that three exercise classes a week plus dancing to you tube videos, my cross trainer and PD Warrior have kept me from deteriorating more quickly.

Hello, fellow Atlantan! I just joined the forum after stumbling upon it while researching hand/arm dystonia. I find discussions here very open, supportive and informative. I don’t play music, but am looking into learning acoustic guitar after both PT and OT have suggested that this could help strengthen weakened muscles. Having read descriptions by professional musicians of their loss of ability to play, I am being cautious. Someone told me that playing in moderation can still be beneficial. Can anyone shed light on this question from personal experience?

I always wanted to play guitar but I have started now aged 68 and six years into Parkinson’s. the limiting factor for me was getting my left hand to work on chords. Then I discovered chord buddy a little gadget costing around five quid and it has made guitar playing possible ok it maybe like driving an automatic car but it works for me