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Song Choice and Vocal Exercises in Group Singing for People with Parkinson’s Disease: The Perspective of a Speech-Language Therapist/Musician

Robin Matthews
PhD, MSc, BA (Hons), Registered Member NZSTA. Discipline of Speech Science, School of Psychology, The University of Auckland

Suzanne C. Purdy
PhD, MSc(Hons), DipAud, MNZAS, FAAA, ASHA & NZSTA Associate. School of Psychology and Centre for Brain Research, The University of Auckland

Lynette J. Tippett
PhD, MSc, Dip Clin Psych. School of Psychology and Centre for Brain Research, The University of Auckland


Keywords:
Choir, singing, voice, Parkinson’s disease, speech-language therapy

Abstract

A review of the literature reveals studies that have examined the benefits of active participation in group singing for health and wellbeing in people both with and without Parkinson’s disease. Few studies have investigated how using song might impact positively on the phonatory and respiratory muscle control systems affecting voice loudness, quality and prosody in people with PD and even fewer describe the nature of the singing, nature of the songs or how the songs were delivered. The thoughts contained in this paper are those of the first author, a musician of many years, who is also a senior speech-language therapist. The author has led a community based singing group, the Brainwave Singers (BWS), in New Zealand for a number of years using Voice and Choral Singing Therapy (VCST) as a voice intervention for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). This article describes the rationale for singing and the workings of that singing group and explores how song choices might develop parameters of voice amplitude, voice quality and wellbeing.

 

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