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Woodshedding - Learning to Play!
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I've played guitar for 50 years but I've just been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Most of the problems I've got are lack of practice but has anyone any tips as to what might help with regard to changed technique?

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Michael J.Fox has had parkinson's for many years now, and in addition to being an actor he is also a guitarist.

He still plays guitar, not sure if he needed to change his technique as a result, but this recent video of him playing with Coldplay shows he can still play:



Last edited by BlueAttitude; 11/15/18 05:36 AM.
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Not me, but my life long bud, Lenny. Lenny played the circuit from rock band to church band over 50 years. At ~ age 60 he was diagnosed with Parkinsons. For the following ~ 8 years he was able to still getup and jam. He talked about the muscle memory kicking in when he played so that while the meds minimized the tremors in daily life, the guitar was not a problem at all. That should be the good news for you.

Unfortunately Parkinsons is a progressive degenerative disease. At 70 Lenny no longer plays. So it is a [*****] of a diagnosis. Get a good doctor who prescribes lots of meds and you will extend your quality of life.

Keep on rocken as long as you can. It is what we all try to do.


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Originally Posted By: BlueAttitude
Michael J.Fox has had parkinson's for many years now, and in addition to being an actor he is also a guitarist.

He still plays guitar, not sure if he needed to change his technique as a result, but this recent video of him playing with Coldplay shows he can still play:




What! I came to see what people had to say on the subject, but I never knew Michael J. Fox played guitar, especially given the severity of his condition. Bravo Mr. Fox.


Cheers,
Deryk
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thanks guys - i think a lot of my problem is lack of practice and the thought of relearning what used to be second nature is daunting - but i'll give it a go

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C'mon Deryk,

If you've never seen it before, catch the movie, "Back To The Future"! Excellent scene of Michael J. Fox playing the Chuck Berry song Johnnie B. Goode.


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I’ve had “early stage” Parkinson’s for five years with only mild progression. Hopefully this rate of progression will continue.
My tremors are severe enough to make carrying a glass of water or using my mouse difficult.
It hasn’t affected my guitar playing at all. I have a YouTube channel and you can see my picking hand shaking quite a bit. My other hand is much worse but it’s usually in motion.
I was playing a B B King thing demonstrating his vibrato. One of the comments was that I must have such a beautiful vibrato because of my hand tremors. Not the case. I’m

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Although I don't have PD, I have Focal Dystonia, a disease that's equally debilitating and affects, primarily, the fingers on my left hand. I have no feeling in my little finger at all, and my ring finger and middle finger have about 35% - 40% ability to process tactile sensation. My middle finger and ring finger sometimes (four or five times weekly) become as rigid as stone and it's quite painful. That particular symptom typically lasts 20 - 60 minutes per episode. By trade, I'm a lead guitarist, so it does affect my musical activities substantially. I only sing when I want to annoy people. It usually works!

Every time I write a new song, or learn somebody else's published song, I have to play it over and over at least 50 or 60 times to develop muscle memory in those fingers in order to play the guitar tracks of the song. But, I played for about 50 years in several different bands and made pretty decent money, so I'm not gonna complain too much. I'll be 75 pretty soon but still practice at least an hour, usually closer to two hours, almost every day.

But, to all who have an impediment of some kind to their ability to perform on their instrument, I wish you well and hope your ability to perform stays with you for a long time into the future.

Take care and Merry Christmas ...

Alan


If interested, here's a link to the Mayo Clinic's information on Focal Dystonia:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dystonia/symptoms-causes/syc-20350480


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yes i do and i first discovered the Parkinsons tremor when i was about to go on stage and the tremor was so bad i couldn't play. funnily enough day to day i don't have much of a tremor but stiffness is my main problem. i was diagnosed about three years ago. my left hand is fine but my right hand is not reliable for strumming. the first minute or so of finger picking is fine but reapdly my right hand starts to miss beats and strings. my main acoustic guitar is a Martin D35 which i've been playing since 1972. a couple of years ago, to help with the Parkinsons I bought a Martin OO17s, small body 12fret neck and short scale.

my main problem is disappointment - I used to play quite well but as soon as i hit a problem i stop playing. so its a vicious circle - how much is Parkinsons and how much is me not practicing?

i keep promising myself to play for an hour a day but as you know Parkinsons messes with your head too and depression and apathy often win and the guitar stays in the case.

i'll follow this thread with interest adn force myself to play!

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https://www.guitarworld.com/news/glenn-tipton-joins-judas-priest-onstage


Glenn Tipton still joins Judas Priest onstage now and again.


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My grandad before he passed away from surgical complications had Parkinsons and loved to play guitar! It was his primary passion in life outside of tinkering on whatever gizmos had captured his fascination at the time. He pretty much switched from picking to strumming when he couldn't pick anymore, and when he couldn't hold his guitar on his own he'd sit back in a recliner so that the guitar resting against him a bit more, and eventually some extra straps and trays to help out balance and adjust posture and such to hold things up and in place. My general advice is find what works best for you and modify if you need to. It can be really frustrating to feel like you can't play as well as you used to, but it's okay if you miss bits here and there. I may not have Parkinsons myself and know exactly those struggles, but I do have visual problems that need constant adjusting in order to keep doing some of the things I love, and there's going to come a time when I can't do them anymore because my vision has deteriorated too far - so I can fully sympathize with the feelings expressed here.


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Ember
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thanks for the encouragment ember and sorry to hear about your failing sight. some positive progress. the new smaller guitar is easier to hold but the neck is wider and shallower than the d35 that i've been playing since the early 70s. i don't think i'll ever get used to the modern martin necks but i'm trying.

not practicing as much as i need to but things are geting better. don't think i'lll ever be as good as i was again but things are improving.

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Good to hear.

Last edited by Byron Dickens; 03/13/22 07:58 AM.

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Since I last posted on this subject I’ve been taking Levodopa and I am responding really well to the medication. The meds lose effectiveness 5-7 years but for now it’s really good. I have an occasional problem playing where I pick the wrong string or play the wrong note. My neurologist says it’s something called occupational disfunction . As it gets worse an occupational therapist can do a lot to help.
Below is a video I made talking about my Parkinson’s. I play guitar (with a BIAB backing track). My plan is to make a video of me playing the same thing every six months. In time I’ll be able to make a compilation that will demonstrate my progression.

https://youtu.be/PaeutU292K4

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Howdy Blues1952....

Thanks for telling your story and the path you are taking.

I don't have Parkinson's and it's not in my family.
But, about a decade ago, I noticed my left side was feeling weaker than my right.
I was lifting weights at the time (just for functional strength) and which helped me self diagnose the problem.
Made the doctor appt, he did some shock sort of tests and told me I have spinal stenosis which is also degenerative....my dad had it later in life too.

Right side wasn't affected early on.
Now....I can't stand for more than 5 minutes or so....like doing dinner dishes....as both legs go to sleep and I'll drop like a rock to the floor without any real warning.
I have to walk with a cane now.

My left arm goes to sleep occasionally and I can't play the acoustic because my right arm goes to sleep due to the wider body.
I can still play my Tele and go through my 30 song set list of favorite cover tunes just to keep up my rhythm chops.
I'm still writing/recording....although I've not written anything new in a few months.

So....I wish everyone well that are dealing with Parkinson's and hope you find the right drug cocktail to help with day to day life and the ability to play.

I have no clue how I reached 75 so quickly.
This getting old isn't for the faint of heart. smile

Thanks again....have a great day.

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Good on y'all for not quitting - for not giving up.

I see too many people who say "I can't." Usually based on some arbitrary number on the calendar or on the idea that they can't be "professional level." Whatever that is.


Byron Dickens

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Hey Bob,
Would you mind reaching out sometime? I know this post is a little old, but have been doing a study on guitar playing with Parkinson's Disease, and would love to get your feedback (and anyone else with this diagnosis).
Thanks!
Jim

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by all means send mt a Private Message but updating the forum as follows.

as backgroud for those of you who might be reading but don't know much about parkinsons its effects are not just physical. it can give you depression and result in apathy - you don't fgeel like doing things you used to enjoy. hence practicing and playing are not as much fun as they used to be and combined with the disappointment of not being abvle to play what i used to it's a vicious circle.

however, playing for my own benefit is not as appealing as it might be - and not as much of an incentive as i used to have when i was playing in public. recently i invested in a small acoustic amp. don't think i'll ever get back my fingerpicking skills but i can still strum a rhythm. left hand works fine. the new amp has an input for a mic and also auxiliary input that can take mp3s. so with BIAB and RB i've been creating backing tracks minus the guitar part so when i play thme through the amp I can add a guitar part. and as they have a bass and drums it helps keep mw in time and on beat.

i'm preparing a set to play at social gatherings - whether i do or not is not clear at the moment. but i'm back to making music and practicing for a gig that may never happen.

muscle memory is still working and that's why i've gone back to ther D35 as opposed to the smaller OO17s. chords still fall easily under my fingers. When i bought the 17s i could play it fine but after 50 years i'm so used to the neck on the D35 it's one variaible i can remove from the mix.

so things are looking up and good lvuk to everyone who shared their own misfortunes and how they overcome them.

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