Is Singing the Best Medicine?

By Danielle Pope

Is Singing the Best Medicine?
Scientists are investigating whether singing can help beat Parkinson’s disease

The benefits of music therapy continue to be documented in treating conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, in an Australian-first, one study is testing whether music, specifically singing, can help in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

Run out of the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, the Sing to Beat Parkinson’s program is encouraging patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s to sing on a weekly basis as part of a group. The group’s progress will be monitored by scientists at Griffith University, to see what benefits are obtained from participating in the program.

The program is based on a concept developed originally in Britain by the Canterbury Cantala Trust. Here, Parkinson’s patients and their families use singing to better express themselves, and help relieve some of the symptoms caused by the disease. Co-creator Grenville Hancox says that they have seen enormous benefits, “ When we sing, it’s almost completely impossible to think about anything else – so people’s awareness is concerned purely with singing,” he said. “This focus can have enormous benefits – it certainly makes me feel better.”

For the Australian program, participants will sing for one hour a week, as well as work on movement and breath connection exercises. Dr Bartlett, who is leading the study said, “We’re wanting to get empirical evidence that singing is helpful and useful for quality of life.”

According to advocacy group Shake it Up, Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia after dementia. The disease affects an estimated 10 million individuals worldwide – 80,000 in Australia. Meanwhile 13, 000 New Zealanders are living with the condition.

Interested participants should contact the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre on (07) 3735 6335.



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