Peterson Voices are Growing Stronger

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Studies suggest that singing interventions have the potential to increase vocal loudness, respiratory muscle strength, and voice-related quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Communication impairment is common among Parkinson’s patients. Around 90% of those living with Parkinson’s have voice and speech changes, and a patient’s voice can become difficult to hear due to throat muscle rigidity (stiffness). This in turn can cause a patient to remove themselves from social interactions and lose confidence.

The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s partnered with In Harmony Music to start the Peterson’s Choir which has recently been renamed Peterson Voices, a group led by choral director Carrie Friddell, a nationally board-certified Music Therapist. Since 2017, the group has been meeting weekly to lift up their voices, not only to sing but perform vocal exercises that helps improve overall vocal health. The group continued their practices on zoom during Covid and now offers a hybrid in-person and zoom weekly practice.

“I had gone from a high soprano with the Nashville symphony to barely being able to sing alto” states Laurie. “Attending this group weekly, brought me back to a soprano within 6 months.”

Data conducted by Vanderbilt on the choir in 2018, reiterated what many research studies have shown. During the informal data collected participants were asked to sustain the sound “ahhh” at their comfortable volume for as long as possible. As a group, the participants improved from an average of 12.5 seconds to 15.5 seconds over the course of a year.  Increase in duration for this measure suggests improvement in breath support. “I couldn’t sing a note for longer than 6 seconds, now I can go hold a note for 10 or 12 seconds.” states John.

Additionally, the “ahhh” volume showed an increase of 6-10 dB, essentially doubling their volume and making the group’s sound increase significantly.

Not only does the choir enjoy their weekly meetings, but they have had the opportunity to perform in the community. They have performed at local nursing homes, the Franklin Support Group holiday party, even at a neurology event at Vanderbilt.

For more information on the Peterson Voices, contact Carrie Friddell, MT-BC at carrie@inharmonymusicmidtn.com

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