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Voice – The original social media

Voice – The original social media

Your voice comprises about 38% of all your communication. If ageing, disability, injury or illness is affecting your ability to be heard and have social connection, then take World Voice Day on 16 April, is an annual event highlighting the significance of the voice in our daily life.

The quality of your voice affects your communication, so it matters. There is a range of things you can do to improve it, such as

joining a choir

attending a drama group

going to a speech and drama teacher

If your problem is significant then we recommend you see a Speech Language Therapist through the public health system or privately.

Some Christchurch people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and Stroke, are learning to use their voice effectively with the Cantabrainers Choir.

The Choir is under the auspices of the NZ Brain Research Institute, run by Therapy Professionals Ltd and has grants from Canterbury Community Trust and NZ Music This is a choir with a difference. Its purpose is not so much to create sweet music but to provide a safe environment in which members can rediscover their voice through singing and socialising.

Difficulties with vocal expression are common in neurological conditions. For example, in Parkinson’s disease, the voice can become very quiet, rapid, flat and monotone.

Following a stroke, people may experience a complete or partial inability to form spoken words. Even with the ability to plan words and sentences people may lack the muscle coordination, making words sound slurred and incomprehensible.

Singing can be a route to overcome some speaking difficulties. For example, it is well-known that people who stutter can often sing quite well; the underlying rhythm provided by music can overcome the difficulties in planning the sequencing of regular speech. Other speech problems may be due to memory impairment or word finding difficulty. The use of familiar songs, rhyming and repetition can be a very effective way of helping speech become more fluent.

Research shows, after trauma the brain may recover some abilities given effort and the right stimulation. Like getting fit, rewiring the brain (neural plasticity) requires intensive exercise to be done accurately and regularly. Choral singing makes practice enjoyable while the group encourages rehearsing for longer and experimentation. As a result people may, for example, speak louder, for longer and use more words.

Initial evaluation and anecdotal evidence indicated improvements in the voice and social benefits. To quote a choir member, “The music has been a real uplift and meeting new people has been wonderful and so much fun. I have a lot more confidence than I had. It’s got me out of my cage”.

Associate Professor Megan McAuliffe of The University of Canterbury’s Department of Communication Disorders has researched the effect of choir participation on speech production (the voice) after 10 weeks of attending the Cantabrainers Choir. The research showed a small improvement in the voice.

The Cantabrainers Choir is run by a Music Therapist and Speech Language Therapist because music and speech share many characteristics: pitch, rhythm, tone, pace and The Speech Language Therapist’s expertise is in understanding the relationship between ageing, disability, injury or illness, how these affect your voice, and strategies to help overcome difficulties.

The Music Therapist’s expertise is in using music and singing to promote positive change with the voice.

The Music Therapist leads and accompanies the choir, the Speech Language Therapist focuses on individual coaching.

If you know anybody who may benefit from attending, contact Therapy Professionals Problems communicating can lead to socially isolation and depression. The voice is important in communication and it is often the vehicle we use to catch and hold The voice matters, don’t wait till you lose it, to enhance it.

ends

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