‘Swimming with sharks’, pianist overcomes Parkinson’s

‘Swimming with sharks’, pianist overcomes Parkinson’s


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2021

We are delighted to hear that the South African soloist Nina Schumann is playing again, after bouts of breast cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.

She says:

‘Given that I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago, and also following a bout with breast cancer, I am just happy to be able to play. Dealing with the diagnoses was not easy: in many respects it is so much more personal than the breast cancer, because Parkinson’s causes stiffness in movement and that has real impact on my performing career. But I think, with the help of medication of course, I have now found a space where I can choose repertoire wisely and still enjoy performing. This year seems to turn out to be a return to solo life! Over the last few years I mainly performed two piano concerts with Luis Magalhaes in the TwoPianists duo, but the stars have lined up to make me take the challenge of solo performances. I feel like I’m swimming with the sharks but it is also extremely exciting to rediscover myself and my own playing.’


  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    Just to clarify, because the article may be a bit ambiguous:

    No one, absolutely no one, recovers from Parkinson’s disease. It doesn’t get better, just as an amputated leg doesn’t get better – it’s gone. But we (patients who have Parkinson’s) can learn to cope better with Parkinson’s, and, with a good neurologist, you can find a new combination of medications which works for you more effectively than the previous combination was working. This makes your symptoms less onerous, and can give the illusion of actual organic improvement. But if you stop taking your medications, you rapidly learn that the underlying disease has not improved.

    (I know this because I am a scientifically/medically literate person (worked in small-pharma drug discovery) and now I have Parkinson’s my own self, first diagnosed approximately five years ago.)

  • Suzanne says:

    So great to hear about a valiant artist’s successful return to some kind of musical life. She’s fortunate that she’s responsive to the Parkinson’s medication, as not everyone is. Go NINA!!

  • God bless her, Parkknsons is not overcome, but if she can stall its tragedy for a length of time and find joy in performing…Brava!

  • KenSF says:

    This headline is medically ill-informed. Medication and other treatments can slow or temporarily arrest the advance of Parkinson’s, but there is no cure for the disease, and no one has ever “overcome” it.

  • Alex Klein says:

    True. One may not get rid of a neurological disease. But with patience and steadfastness one can find ways around it. I am so happy for Nina and wish her all the best.