Parkinson's and Music Therapie

I'm Heiko (also called Oughton) from Germany and I'd like to share my story with you. I was diagnosed with PD in 2013 after I had a long journey seeing doctors and suffering from various symptoms. First encounter was passing out on a bike ride in 2007. I am a professional Guitar Player and music producer. In 2011 I felt that my playing got worse. So I started to get into new practise routines. But the more I played the worse it got. In 2012 I quit playing because the stiffness in my fretting (left) hand wouldn't let me play anymore.

I went to the hospital and tried a few meds. I developed my own excercises to keep my brain working. It's all focused on right brain - left brain thinking. With that daily routine of 2 or 3 times 10 minutes I got back to play again. I changed the technique and was able to play at professional level again. I wrote and played an album called "Leave The Marked Path" which was released in 2014. In 2016 I released another Album "Jasper's Warning".

With my music I would like to encourage people and say that anything might be possible as log as you don't loose faith and motivation. You can find my music for free on the internet. Just google the album titles. They are on spotify, itunes and several other platforms. 

I would like to get in touch with other musicians suffering from PD and see if my excercises can help others as well.  

Hello Oughton

I'm a lover of music but not a musiciaan. I found your article very thought provoking.

I know there are quite a few musicians with Parkinson's Johnny Cash suffered with it. Lynda Ronstadt has it.

Please Google - Barbara Thompson: "Playing against time". A BBC 4 programme about the saxophinist and her fight against PD
Her husband is Virtuoso Jazz/Rock Drummer: Jon Hiseman. It is a very interesting profile

The video is is well worth watching and I'm sure you would be able to contact her and find her website and contact details

I find stirring music eases Parkinson's symptoms quite significantly. But of course it's only teemporary.

Hope this info is useful.


Hi Oughton, I’m a sax player with PD & interested in your excercises

Hi Gary,

sorry for the late reply. I think I can write my method down here.

The whole idea is based on „keep your brain working“. It’s an improv thing and it will make you think.

Here is how:

Put the metronome on 80 or even less. Choose a Scale e.g. G Dorian. Play steady 8th notes, don’t stop and don’t play a note twice. Be tight on the metronome. Change to triplets and back. Increase the tempo and slow down again. Do this as a warmup for a couple of minutes.

Now comes the thinking stuff. Play your 8th notes again but on every second bar hit the root note as a target note. Do this with triplets as well. Keep up with the click. Further instead of the root note hit a Chordtone (G A# C D) on every second one of the bar. Name (on guitar say it out loud) or think the interval you’re hitting. Like G (1), A# (3) aso.

I found this extremely challenging and it took me a while to go longer than a couple of minutes. But after a while the symptoms in me left hand ( fretting hand) got better. And along with some meds and acupuncture I got back to play again. Check out the guitar solo in „don’t be afraid of the night“ by oughton tanera for example (Search youtube). Thats me almost 9 years into pd.