24. ‘… and the music continues to play’

The not so small print : Everyone is different, PD is bespoke.  Each person with PD will have different combinations of symptoms, affected by different things.   Please don’t alter anything without first checking with a medical professional.

This is an up-to-date blog (unless you are reading on ‘catch-up’).  May 2017.

First a mini multiple choice :

  • I played bass guitar live on stage with a band in front of 72 people at a local pub.
  • I would like to learn the bass guitar and will do it one day.

You will already know which one is correct.

As I really don’t want any of my posts to turn into ‘plinky plonky’, ‘slo mo’ emotional arcs, I am being upfront about what happened.  There is no suspense, I have told you the ending at the beginning.    I remember vaguely reading about 19,000 words ago that this blog is not a ‘Whodunnit’.

I left you with a musical mathematical equation way way back in blog 9 :

(Music + Learning) x Loud rock music = Bass guitar lessons

I have always admired bass guitarists.   From the new romantic bands of the 1980’s with their lovely bass players, to the modern day bass dudes.  I have secretly always wanted to play the bass guitar.

With my new post diagnosis attitude, rather than putting it off.  I started lessons right now.

Although it must seem like I try everything at once, money and time is obviously a factor.  So piano lessons stopped after getting my grade 1.  I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my piano talents for now.  I swapped this for bass guitar lessons.

I borrowed a bass guitar from ‘tech support’.   ‘Tech support’ has added another arrow to his quiver and is now ‘musical hire’ as well.  I have been paying him in dopamine enhancing chocolate.

My bass guitar road trip* so far : (*a journey is not very rock n roll).

I have been having lessons for a term and actually (in a very good way) there is not much PD dramatic humour or emotional arc to report about the actual lessons.

The actual lessons are usually quite ‘normal’:

  • Walk in, sit down, have lesson, stand up, go home.

The only thing ‘PD interesting’ is that I use my blue badge to park outside the music lesson.  It is at the end of the day and I cannot guarantee how good my walking will be.  Sometimes I struggle to walk in, but often after half an hour lesson I walk out feeling like my eyeballs have been polished (again, probably not a medical term).  Amazingly, during the lessons my tremor and dexterity are usually okay, generally nothing dramatic to report.

Smashing, I am now learning bass guitar.  However, playing in the living room is not very fulfilling.  The dog and cat have difficulty clapping (much like me sometimes – crickey PD does affect everything).  If only my husband played in a rock covers band – oh, he does.

PD makes me feel helpless as there is very little I can do to speed a cure.  Obviously I am not a Neuroscientist, and I would be a rubbish tremoring lab assistant.  However, I can fundraise to donate towards research and support for those waiting (im)patiently for a cure.

One of the ways I have raised money is by organising Charity Band Nights.  We held our third fundraiser at the weekend (May 2017 if reading on ‘catch up’).  A local pub gave the venue for free, and three bands very generously played for nothing.  We sold out.

Pre PD* I would have said ‘no’ to the suggestion of playing with the band at the fundraiser.  However, in much the same way as the man from the orange producing district, ‘I said, yes’.

*Actually pre PD I wouldn’t have even been having lessons. I would have put it off until that very very very busy day in the future known as ‘One Day’.

If you have been paying attention, I mentioned that STRESS is a huge factor in making symptoms break through.  So it would be sensible if I had at least one rehearsal with the band.  However, due to one reason or another, mainly ‘life’, I didn’t get round to it.

However, I did put some rocks star riders on my performance :

  • Their bass player had to be on stage with me.
  • He had to continue playing throughout the song.
  • I was under no pressure to play, I would decide in the moment depending on PD.
  • I would like all the blue hob nobs removed from the packet in my dressing room (sorry that is a nonsensical statement, I obviously don’t have a dressing room).

The day of the band night came and I very sensibly did the following preparation, in a non rock n roll way.

  • I had a quiet, if slightly anticipatory stressed, day.
  • As recommended by my medical professional I tweaked my meds slightly as I was going to have a late busy night.
  • I had an afternoon sleep.
  • I ate and drank healthily.

That evening went something like this :

  • Three bands performed.
  • 72 friends came along – enjoyed and boogied.
  • My husband’s band asked me when the time came ‘are you going to do it?’.
  • In that split second I said ‘yes’.
  • I played – 2 minutes 54 seconds – on stage.
  • It was amazing I want to do it again.
  • Flanrinsto sat in the corner all night, well behaved, drinking a bottle of pop.

Don’t get me wrong I was not very good, I got lost half way through and stopped and ‘smiled and waved’*.  *Actually I didn’t wave as PD … (oh come on you’ve got to be kidding).  Lack of rehearsal showed as the band played a different version to my term one beginner music lessons (or I thought they did, maybe it was just me).  A friend kindly filmed my debut and actually it looks as though I am playing sort of the right tune.  I am very very pleased with myself!  My hand didn’t tremor and dexterity was good, being surrounded by the music on the stage I think really helped.

Everything fell into place and it was amazing :

  • I danced all night.
  • I played bass guitar live on stage (did I mention that already, wsf).
  • I made a speech.
  • I went home at midnight.

I obviously must have flukily (probably not a real word), got the meds, rest, food, hydration and everything else right.

I think the additional things which got me through the evening were :

  • Positivity
  • Amazing friends
  • Happiness
  • Music
  • Laughter

I thought at one point whilst dancing at 11pm, ‘Crickey, have I even got PD?’, I should refund everyone now.  I then started to worry about looking like a fraud, everything was going so well (those with PD will understand that feeling).  I quickly quashed that thought and enjoyed the evening.  As that thought could well have tipped me over the edge and into stress mode, switching everything to ‘rubbish’.

Crickey it is complicated.

However, PD did interfere a bit.  I had difficulty walking home.  Hardly surprising, dopamine was definitely depleted.  ‘Phew still got PD’ – that is a joke.


I would give anything not to have PD.