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Marching to a Different Beat

Tuesday September 25, 2012

Bev Ribaudo

Michael J Fox Blog - Guest blogger Bev Ribaudo was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's at age 47, but her symptoms began in her late 30′s. Having always been an optimist, Bev decided to fight this disease using humor, sharing her observations at Parkinson's Humor.

In the summer before I started Junior High school, I decide to play clarinet. Why? Because of Barbie. Barbie was my best friend and lived next door. She was a year older and had everything this twelve year old did not. She was pretty, with thick wavy hair and straight teeth. And while I was still wearing clothing sized for first graders, she wore teen size clothes and needed a bra . Barbie played clarinet, so I wanted to play one, too.

The school held a band camp. The first thing they taught us was how to march, not how to play anything, just how to march. We had to take two steps for each yard line on a football field. I marked lines on my driveway with chalk and practiced until I could step off exactly eighteen inches, even with my eyes closed. I never was a good clarinet player, but I was an excellent marcher. For years, I could accurately step off how many yards something was, until Parkinson's Disease affected the way I walked and stole my built in yardstick.

In my ongoing effort to learn how to undo what Parkinson's has done to me, I attended a Music Therapy program at the Parkinson's Conference in Irvine, CA, a couple weeks ago. The speaker stated that music could be used to improve your gait and help your brain re-learn how to walk normally. I was already doing Treadmill exercises recommended by another speaker at the same Conference, so I decided to add some music. I picked out some favorite tunes, including some I used to play in my school band days (Louie Louie and Tequila) and concentrated on walking to the beat. I noticed a big difference right away. My gait evened out and my arms began to swing like normal, plus it was fun thinking about those teenage years.

I actually enjoy Marching on my treadmill and the improvement in walking seems to be lasting all day. Maybe I'll get my built in ruler back. (Honey, where's the chalk?)
Hmm, I wonder what ever happened to that old clarinet?