Singing loud keeps Parkin­son’s in tune

The Tribune (NZ) - - OUT & ABOUT - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘Mee, moh, maw, mah’’ are the words to a time hon­oured singers’ vo­cal ex­er­cise.

It’s how Palmer­ston North’s Sing Loud, a 12-mem­ber choir of peo­ple with Parkin­son’s, be­gin their first recital in front of fam­ily and friends at the city’s Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist church last Wed­nes­day.

With choir con­venor Jeanne Purdy out front on the pi­ano, Sing Loud pre­sented a pro­gramme of well-known sing-along favourites. A group that ‘‘se­ri­ously sings for fun’’ they have been meet­ing to­gether weekly since the begin­ning of term one.

Purdy said she had been giv­ing the choir mem­bers vo­cal exercises to help stop their voices fad­ing away.

‘‘Some of them have throat prob­lems and some­times the voice just freezes.’’

Hav­ing a con­cert at the half­way point of the year seemed the log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of their singing ses­sions.

‘‘I be­lieve in hav­ing a goal, though I think they were a bit sur­prised when I sug­gested a con­cert. It’s been help­ful, and there’s been the won­der­ful so­cial side of get­ting to­gether to have a sing.’’

Parkin­son’s is an in­cur­able pro­gres­sive neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tion caused by in­suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties of dopamine in the brain. It af­fects mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion, causes vo­cal con­stric­tions, and is char­ac­terised by un­con­trol­lable tremors.

Wayne Christie has had Parkin­son’s for three years,

‘‘What we are en­joy­ing most is that it is such good fun’’ Brian Coles, Sing Loud

al­though he could have had the grad­ual on­set con­di­tion for as long as 15 years be­fore full-blown symp­toms man­i­fested.

‘‘I found my voice was grad­u­ally get­ting softer and my writ­ing was get­ting smaller and smaller.’’

It was never ob­vi­ous at the begin­ning that this was caused by Parkin­son’s.

‘‘We all shake dif­fer­ently, and we all shake in dif­fer­ent places,’’ Christie said.

A unan­i­mous show of hands voted for the classes to con­tinue into the sec­ond half of the year.

‘‘What we are en­joy­ing most is that it is such good fun,’’ choir mem­ber Brian Coles said.

The Mon­day morn­ing singing class com­ple­ments two weekly ex­er­cise classes Aza­nia Pekepo from Grav­i­tate 24 gym has been tak­ing for the past three years, and a Fri­day af­ter­noon art class.

‘‘They help us to co-or­di­nate brain, body and voice,’’ Christie said.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Sing Loud con­ducted by Jeanne Purdy is a ther­apy vo­cal group for peo­ple with Parkin­son’s.

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