Piano and keyboard playing

I didn't take up the piano until 5 years ago and I am at grade 5 standard. Has anyone been able to continue playing after they have been diagnosed with Parkinson's? I would be very sad indeed to have to stop playing when I enjoy it so much.


Hi John, I think you could continue playing for a long time, as long as you are not too critical and accept it's not always perfect. I find a keyboard ideal as I am not that good anyway and do not mind spoiling my touch, It is much easier to play as it can cope best with my now lighter touch, less strength in my fingers. A keyboard is easier to transport too.

Some people can hardly get to the piano, but once seated they are fine. It lifts my mood and I get enormous pleasure from it , especially playing duets.  Ever played the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba on two keyboards (see/hear youtube).( Very few people have two pianos) I am convinced it is good for your hands/fingers as an exercise in maintaining  dexterity.. So keep playing!

(I had this copied and pasted ready to send before I saw Kate's reply.

Keep it going, John; and stay positive.  Your worries might turn out to be unfounded.


Thanks Kate, I really appreciate your reply because the piano is so important to me.  In time I may get a keyboard instead of the piano (which I rent).  I have noticed that my scales are not as good as they were due to my left hand dragging a bit but still gain immense pleasure from it.  On my bucket list was another trip to the Royal Opera House.  A girl friend took me for my 60th birthday and last year I went on a tour there so vowed I should have another visit so I booked for the Flying Dutchman in February.  I had the strange feeling when I booked it that something would happen to spoil my visit and lo and behold shortly afterwards the twitching fingers started.  I will keep on playing because I have the most wonderful piano teacher and we have a lot of fun in our lessons.  Once again, thanks for your reply


Thanks Lily

I went for lunch to my cousin's today and she was horrified to see the twtiching fingers which I suppose made me feel worse.  I am trying to stay positive but its really difficult living on my own and thinking how this will affect my life.


I hope my comments didn’t sound too glib.  Staying positive can be very difficult at times but it’s the way to go, and your enjoyment of music (and exercise) will help you.  Regarding the shakes, there’s every chance that the medication will sort those out. 

Another thought has just occurred to me:  my singing teacher, who accompanies me on the piano, has quite severe essential tremor but she manages to play beautifully.

Thanks Lily, my piano teacher wanted me to have singing lessons too because I always do well in the singing part of the piano exam but I never started because the piano lessons themselves are quite costly.  I have always enjoyed singing from the time when I was soloist in the church choir at the age of 9!!!! I think that's why I love to go to the opera so much.  Hearing a human voice without the help of a microphone is very exciting.


I've always loved listening to Welsh male voice choirs (I think it started with Zulu). The main problem that I currently have in terms of being alone with this is that I have way too much time to think about the future, and it's scary, but I can't second guess when I'll hit real difficulties, and I can't conjure up a partner and children  either. And even if I could, I would still worry about the future (I'd just have some new/different reasons to worry); I figure this thing is pretty crappy whatever situation you're in. So I'm currently a serial coffee house customer (being among people helps when the panic finds a way through) and I'm doing all the things I love as often as I can in the present. Hmmmm not sure what I was trying to say there, but I've written it so....smiley

Enjoy the music.  K

I am sure your love of music will help in coping with PD. It helps you relax and I am sure that the pleasure you derive from listening to it or your playing on the piano is good for your brain chemistry.  Stress relief is very important in managing to live with this condition. You might have many good years ahead of you. Are you on medication yet? The drugs for PD can keep you well and active for a long time. A lot of people with PD develop problems over time with swallowing and speech (soft voice). Singing should be an excellent way of improving and strengthening your voice. There are a lot of choirs of different types about: modern, classical, african,etc., many just for fun and cost little (U3A?). 


Yes Jackson I know how you feel. Living alone with this is very scary especially during the night when I begin to panic about the future. It's the worst time really with no one to talk to and share the worry.

No Kate I am not on medication yet although I do take a lot of tablets already for an existing condition so it will be a matter of juggling the tablets in some way when I do get medication.

Hi, John --

I'm a bit late in noticing your post, but I'd like to respond to your initial query.  It was because I studied classical piano for ten years and loved playing thereafter that I first suspected I had a neurological disease.  Five years before my diagnosis I noticed that my coordination was imperfect.  I started practicing finger exercises and found that I could not do the more complex ones.  I practiced more -- no improvement.  At that point I thought the problem might be neurological rather than muscular.  But I had no Parkinsonian symptoms, so I was just left wondering.

When my handwriting started shrinking, my gait changed, I lost arm movement, etc., I was finally diagnosed.  At first I delayed medication; but as the symptoms began to interfere with my daily living, I started on Mirapex (pramipexole).  All of my symptoms disappeared!  I could play the piano normally once again.  Over the years, I have had to increase dosages and add new medications, but my playing is still good for a non-professional pianist.  I can play Chopin waltzes, short Bach pieces, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, and more.  Mind you, I'm not of concert stage capability, just good enough to enjoy playing for friends occasionally and mostly for myself.  So take heart and be assured that you probably have lots of musical time ahead of you!

Best wishes,     J

Hi J

Thanks so much for your reply.  I find it very encouraging.  I am not of your high standard but I do love to play and study the piano.  I go to the opera frequently and I always find it amazing that I can look up a certain aria in my piano book and actually play it!!!! I have always been fascinated by music and that is why at a late age I decided to take up the piano. Thanks once again for your encouraging reply to my original post


Just got in from my piano lesson and feeling a bit down as my left hand decided not to cooperate today, then i found this on the forum. I do so agree keep playing i have never been brilliant but started lessons again at 60, diagnosed 2013 January and my teacher who is 80 is wonderful. great to read all the messages on here.

Hi, Georgie --    I'm so glad you found this thread!  When I was first diagnosed, I thought I'd have to give up the piano before long.  But here I am after 18 years, still playing and enjoying it.  It sounds contrary to reason, but I think I enjoy playing now more than ever, even though my playing is faulty at times.  I have long since given up perfectionism and am happy with whatever I can produce on the keyboard.

Another point and good reason to keep playing is that playing a musical instrument is reputed to be one of the few activities during which all parts of the brain are engaged.  So we are exercising our minds as well as  our fingers.  And my brain can use all the help it can get!

Best of luck to you!      J

This is a very inspiring thread. I've just been diagnosed and prescribed my first meds and I'm anxious to see the results on both my piano and guitar playing. Some of the comments here are very encouraging, I've worried for quite a while now about my left hand, which seems to fight me when it's asked to do anything over complex. 

Luckily I'm in a rock band, so I get away with just octaves in the left hand for much of the time. I'd miss music terribly if I lost the ability to play well. I've played since I was a child and somehow ive become very involved with the local music scene, playing at music evenings, teaching a little and gigging with the band. Hoping this disease isn't too cruel, particularly since my other huge passion is photography, which I've also noticed is becoming more difficult.

my consultant has said that my left hand should get better as a result of the meds.....let's hope that is the case for all of us. 

Hello, Fingers --

You sound like an accomplished musician.  If so, you may feel more discouraged about every new difficulty than I do as a strictly amateur pianist, playing  only for family or close friends.  However, I believe your consultant is absolutely right.  Before I took any medication, my right hand was sometimes slow in responding, sometimes inaccurate in playing, and felt sort of weak or tired.  After I was on Mirapex (pramipexole) a very short time, my coordination and overall performance returned to normal!  As years passed, I had to increase my dosage and then to add other medications, but I am still playing well enough to enjoy it.  Just for the purpose of letting you know what I mean by "well enough," some of the pieces I have been playing recently are Chopin's nocturnes and "Berceuse," a capriccioso by Mendelsohn, sonatinas and sonatas by Mozart, sonatinas by Haydn, and simple pieces by Bach (his complex works were always beyond my capability).

I hope to hear soon that you have noticed the effects of your medication.  Best wishes!

Cheers John, early days yet, but I'm quite excited at the prospect of some stride piano and some more challenging work.  I'm hoping to put it all to good use and maybe fundraise a little :) 


Well new development, I've been on meds for about six weeks now and my left hand has improved so much! I'm now playing at the Brooklyn bowl, O2 London.... This month.....it can be done, playing keys with a Bon jovi tribute. : keep the faith you musos! 


That's wonderful, Fingers!  Not only is your music restored, but also you have proof that you're on the right medications, something some patients take years to find. 

Your musical career is most impressive.  Keep playing!