My mom has MSA (multiple system atrophy, a bit like Parkinson's on steroids) and has recently been forced to give up playing the bagpipes because she isn't able to properly seal the holes on the chanter anymore. She would like to continue playing music so she has decided to go back to playing piano. She played for many years before taking up the bagpipes. I would like her to enjoy it for as long as possible so I'm hoping to find some arrangements of classical/"adult" music that don't require too much finger independence. I'm thinking a note or two per hand max but I'm open to suggestions. Slower rhythms might also be a plus. Any recommendations?

  • Welcome! I'm afraid recommendations for specific pieces aren't covered here (for a variety of reasons, mainly that this isn't an "advice" site but tries to stick to factual, objective answers), but you could probably get good guidance from any piano teacher even if she isn't looking for lessons. If she's open to and comfortable with it, I'd encourage her to explore improvising/composing her own music, since that's the best way to fit your creativity to your personal physical abilities. Nov 18, 2021 at 13:40
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    If she'd like to stick with Celtic music, I wonder whether push-button concertina would be an option, where the finger movement is sufficient, without requiring the precision of placement that stopping a wind hole does... Nov 18, 2021 at 13:43
  • How about finding someone who can (or has) produce a chanter with keys? (Like a saxophone). Nov 18, 2021 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


She could have some fun with layers of sound. That is, she can play duets/trios/etc. with herself, by recording herself and playing with her recording. I had a housemate who played flute duets with herself in this way. Your mother might need four or more layers to get all the notes. She can do trial and error to find out what works for her.

Another analogy: I used to accompany my children for their Suzuki pieces by picking out some of the notes from the piano accompaniment.

You may be able to pick up a lot of sheet music and piano books for a small amount of money at a used book sale. The big ones in college towns include sheet music and music books.

An alternate idea might be to get some play-along books+CD. Then she could, for example, play the bass line (normally the left hand), but use two hands. In this case she would not need to record herself.

She might want to branch out into jazz piano. It could be interesting and fun. I especially like the Bradley Sowash series of jazz pedagogy for piano.

Have her experiment and then report back!


I‘d choose some fake books of music in styles she likes. F.B’s contain just the melody with the chords. Learning the accompaniment with chords adapted to her abilities might be an interesting challenge for her.

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