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Singers Have Brainwave To Improve Speech

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Singers Have Brainwave To Improve Speech

What makes The Brainwave Singers different? The Brainwave Singers have neurological conditions and sing to improve their speech and voice.

Last year saw the launch of New Zealand's first choir offering music therapy for people with neurological conditions. The inspiration for the launch of this choir was the success of a similar choir in London.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board, Speech and Language therapist and cofounder of The Brainwave Singers Robin Matthews said "We know that singing makes us feel good. Now science is discovering how singing can help people suffering from Parkinson's to Aphasia (stroke)," he said.

Mr Matthews gave an example: Colin uses his inhaler less since he started attending a small Parkinson's group using singing therapy. A Parkinson's sufferer, Colin had problems with his speech and voice, so he started attending fortnightly. The effect on his condition has been remarkable says his wife. "He breathes much more easily and has a stronger voice".

Through attending the group, people with Parkinson's have learned that they can use singing as a means of holding off the negative effects of this progressive neurological condition. "The theory is that Parkinson's will most likely get the better of you if you let it, so throwing vocal and breathing exercises back at it, seems to go a long way to holding the symptoms at bay" says Robin Matthews.

The Brainwave Singers co-founder and BOPDHB Occupational Therapist, Janet Freeman says "now people can help improve their breathing, speech and voice, and if they wish, be part of new global research that will look into the positive benefits of singing on health and well being. Robin and I are very excited about this new initiative in Tauranga, which is fully supported by the Parkinson's Society Tauranga and Stroke Foundation Tauranga," she said.

Robin and Janet are keen to include people who have neurological conditions, including Parkinson's, stroke and brain injury into The Brainwave Singers choir.

"Singing uses different parts of the brain. To sing, you have to remember the tune and words, then fill your lungs with air, produce a voice and then coordinate your voice and breathing whilst singing the melody. For people with Parkinson's, the coordination required helps produce a better, louder voice."

"For people who have had a stroke; research shows that they can regain the ability to talk by learning to sing words they are unable to speak. If the brain's language centres are damaged, neural plasticity - 'rewiring' the brain - may train the part of the brain responsible for singing to take over the speech functions."

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