Singing loud keeps Parkinson’s in tune
‘‘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.
Sing Loud conducted by Jeanne Purdy is a therapy vocal group for people with Parkinson’s.