Within 15 seconds of performing a computer search of “accordionists with Parkinson’s,” I had a long list of obituaries of accordion players with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). I wondered if PD had killed them, or if being an accordionist had. I heard stories of accordionists dying while performing, and I always assumed that it was the bellow shaking that made them keel over. Or perhaps it was the deadly combination of the shaking of the accordion and the shaking from PD.
I’ve also overheard audience members saying they felt like killing the happy squeezeboxers.
I wondered if I could possibly be the only living accordion player in the world with PD.
I’ve been overloaded with accordion memories lately. It seemed that every conversation that I had during the previous week focused on the same topic–the need for me to return to playing my accordion:
Tuesday at lunch with Christy;
Wednesday at dinner with Alice, my first accordion teacher as an adult;
Friday, when Mike my accordion teacher dedicated the song "Unforgettable" to me at his and Margie's concert; and
Saturday at Linda's party when she described how wonderfully I previously played the accordion, that is, before my Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery for PD.
After all, playing the accordion was the primary reason that I proceeded with brain surgery in the first place. I hadn’t played since before my surgery in May 2005.
A couple of days ago, I finally found the courage to fire up my electronic, reedless, 13 pound accordion. I was grateful not to electrocute myself. I played a few easy songs, e.g., "What a Difference a Day Makes," "Climb Every Mountain" and "Take Me Home Country Road." I was very rusty, slow and steady, but accordion playing finally became a possibility, and no longer wishful thinking.
Yesterday, the phone rang and when I answered it, I heard an unfamiliar voice. The caller was Charlie Nimovitz of San Rafael, California. Charlie was a singer and musician who played the accordion, keyboard, and piano, and performed professionally for the last 30 years. Charlie was diagnosed with PD in 2000. Check out Charlie's website at: https://www.charlienimovitz.com/.
We were both delighted to discover the second living accordion player in the world with PD.