How can I play with Parkinson's Disease?

This advice below is from a student of mine named Ron. Thanks Ron! - JP Allen

I'm not expert but you have a great teaching knack or style. I was wondering if you had any tips for those of us with Parkinson's Disease particularly with tremors and slowness of movement? The hand techniques are problematical.

I am enjoying learning from your course and am making steady progress, but anything that might be of additional help considering my PD would be greatly appreciated.

Here are some things I've tried and found to help me - of course, everyone is different and the results may not be the same.

1. Try standing whenever you play, it may help with breathing in particular
2. If the tremor is dominant on one side, hold the harp in the hand of the other side and play one-handed.
3. If you employ item 2, add the tremor dominant hand for a natural tremolo.
4. If you employ item 2, hold the other end of the harp with the finger tips.
5. Try keeping your legs in motion, either walking around, shuffling your feet in place or flexing your legs to the beat.
6. Try keeping your upper body in motion similar to the way JP likes to play.
7. Try to concentrate on what you're doing while relaxing as much as possible.
8. Avoid thinking about how the tremors are affecting your playing.
9. Try to play when your medication is most effective during the day.
10. Cold and dampness and wind usually increase tremors, if they do, avoid those conditions.
11. Try playing with a metronome, recorded music, drum machine or anything that will drive the tempo and/or rhythm. JP's lesson CD's work well for me as does my own recordings.

These are all I can think of. My biggest difficulty is the wah-wah hand technique. I imagine when I get into the blues part of the lesson package, I'll have a whole new set of issues, but I'm not worrying about that now. Hopefully, these ideas will help someone else down the road. Maybe it will lead to some ideas by you folks as well.


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