This April, we at the George Center for Music Therapy are thrilled to be partnering with The Alchemy Sky Foundation for our inaugural season of Singing with Parkinson’s! Singing with Parkinson’s is a unique choral experience designed to address various symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in an engaging, holistic approach. The program is designed by Neurologic Music Therapists to specifically meet the individual needs of participants with PD, and promises to be a source of community, fun and treatment for all participants. (For more information on the kinds of music we’ll be doing, check in with our next write up in a couple of weeks!)
PD is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily manifests through impaired motor abilities for those with the diagnosis. Individuals with PD frequently experience a variety of movement-related symptoms, include tremor, gait dysregulation, bradykinesia (slower-than-normal movement), impaired speech production, difficulty swallowing, and muscle rigidity. In addition, individuals with PD are at risk for mood disorders, including depression and anxiety (Tan, 2012), which can further affect quality of life for the individuals and their families. As of 2018, there are approximately one million Americans with a diagnosis of PD.
Fortunately, there is a vast body of research supporting the use of music therapy to address these various symptoms. Studies have shown that music accesses various areas of the brain, and that rhythm synchronizes neural and motor activity in humans in general, regardless of diagnosis. This means that your body has an innate response to music, and is activated to respond in predictable ways based on musical input and interaction. Music therapy, and Neurologic Music Therapy in particular, use these intrinsic responses to facilitate both neural rehabilitation and motor regulation. In relation to PD, research shows that music therapy is an effective means addressing multiple symptoms, including improving gait regulation (Lindaman and Abiru, 2013), reducing bradykinesia (Pacchetti et al., 2000), facilitating speech production (Yinger & LaPointe, 2012), and decreasing mood disturbances and depression (Raglio et al., 2015), to name a few.
So what does this mean for Singing with Parkinson’s? It means that we will be using evidence-based methods to maintain and improve functioning with our members so that they can maintain their best quality of living outside of the rehearsal. Furthermore, we hope to provide members with an engaging, quality musical experience within rehearsals using a variety of repertoire and activities. And we hope to provide a place where various individuals of the Atlanta area can come together and experience a community of support, encouragement, and fun. When we make music together, we acknowledge our commonality, our ability to come together from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences to produce something beautiful.
We are so excited about this amazing program. And we are so excited to have you join us.
See you there!
Lindaman, K., & Abiru, M. (2013). The Use of Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation for Gait Disturbances in Paitents with Neurologic Disorders. Music Therapy Perspectives, 31(1). 35-39.
Pacchetti, C., Mancini, F., Aglieri, Ro., Fundarò, C., Martignoni, E., & Nappi, G. (2000). Active Music Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: An Integrative Method for Motor and Emotional Rehabilitation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(3). 386-393.
Raglio, A., Attardo, L., Gontero, G., Rollino, S., Groppo, E., & Granieri, E. (2015). Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients. World Journal of Psychiatry, 5(1).
Tan, L.C.S. (2012). Mood Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 18. S74-S76.
Yinger, O.S., & Lapointe, L.L. (2012). The Effects of Participation in a Group Music Therapy Voice Protocol (G-MTVP) on the Speech of Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Music Therapy Perspectives, 30(1). 25-31.