As Parkinson's Disease (PD) progresses, many find that their voices become quiet, raspy and enunciation difficult. Communication suffers. They also often find that their breathing becomes more shallow. This is because PD can affect every muscle of the body - not just those for walking but those for talking like diaphragm, tongue, jaw. Singing regularly exercises the muscles required for voice production and projection.
Hence, in Toowoomba, we formed The Park 'n' Songs Choir.
The group started to get together at the end of 2016 and then, after sorting out the logistics of where, when and how opened its doors in 2017.
In addition to therapeutic benefits, the camaraderie and social aspect of the choir is a bonus to us all!
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Clare and Jess have had to leave us after five years - we will soon have other details here re leaders. Thanks to Melissa Forbes for her help in the interim. But do have a read about Clare and Jess below as well as our Randall!
Our group has a vibrant, fun-loving leader, Clare Birchley. A Graduate of USQ Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Voice, Clare is also a Level III practitioner of Somatic Voicework (TM) The LoVetri Method. Clare has a special interest in using singing as a force to improve physical and mental well being. She has drawn on the knowledge of practitioners and researchers from all over the world, and, with her own abilities, brings joy, integrity and a sense of belonging to the group. We have a fantastic accompanist, Jess Betts, USQ graduate in Creative Arts, majoring in Piano. She also sings and her smiles are special. Rounding off our leaders is Randall Machejfski. Former nurse and educator, Randall sings, and plays a mean guitar . A nicer person you could not meet. Stay tuned for plans for next year!
Often people say this and our simple response is 'neither can we'! Quite a few of the group can hold a tune (and thank heavens for them) but the rest of us join in for the important benefits and fun of the breathing/singing exercises and enjoyable songs.
Please do not feel that, if you never considered yourself a singer in the past or present, you cannot join this choir. We are not a choral choir; we are a therapeutic group who sing.
Perhaps the following saying holds true for a number of reasons!
He who sings frightens away his ills ...
Miguel de Cervantes
Our choir has forged an excellent relationship with the School of Creative Arts, USQ. Melissa Forbes, Senior Lecturer (Contemporary Singing-Music), has supported our group from its inception and we are very grateful. In our three years together, the Park 'n' Songs Choir has been involved in a number of fun activities - thanks to our choir leader, Clare, who keeps her finger on the pulse of Parkinson's singing around the world. We sang a medley of wartime songs at Peacehaven Park on Remembrance Day, 2018. We were part of a worldwide research study in 2017/18, Sing to Beat Parkinson's . Then in 2019 we joined other Parky Choirs from around the world to present Sing! Click on the links below to watch us in action.
Here is a link to the recent article published by Melissa Forbes in Psychology of Music. This is a highly ranked international journal and Melissa's study was about the effects for CAREGIVERS who regularly accompanied their partners to our choir.
You do not need to be a member of the Toowoomba Parkinson's Support Group to come to choir.
However it is best to contact us first to ensure that you turn up on a Friday that is scheduled.
Just phone Joe and Carol Chalmers on 46597646 and they will be able to fill you in on all the information!
The choir is a very welcoming and friendly group. We have a lot of fun.
We are recommencing sessions on FRIDAY, 29th January, 2021, COVID permitting by the time we get to that date ! We are very excited to be doing this as it will be almost a year of closure by that stage. We are very fortunate to have Clare, Jess and Randall still to lead us and support us.
The only thing better than singing is more singing.