Participants in Sing Up Rodney’s first session include both new and more experienced singers.
Singing makes you feel good – and its value as therapy is becoming more widely known.
Music therapist Ali Talmage, co-founder of the CeleBRation Choir at Auckland University’s Centre for Brain Research, says singing can help stroke survivors, and others with neurological problems, to find a voice again.
As well as positive effects on brain circuits, singing can improve breathing and vocal strength – often a problem for people with Parkinson’s disease. For those with dementia, familiar tunes can elicit memories.
Recently, Ali started a new community music therapy group, Sing Up Rodney, in Silverdale and any adults living with conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s or dementia are welcome to join. Partner/carer participation is encouraged.
Around 20 people took part in the first session, on February 2. Among them was Aphasia Rodney chair Ruth Farrell, who also sings with the CeleBRation Choir. Ruth developed aphasia after a stroke caused by a benign brain tumour seven years ago. She loves music and says singing has improved her speech but that the biggest benefit is “sociability”.
The two-hour sessions at Rotary House in Silverdale include a tea break and Ali says this time to chat with others is as important as the singing itself, bringing people together.
The weekly Sing Up Rodney sessions (on Thursdays, 10.30am–12.30pm) will run for the current term, until April 6, and people can join at any time. It costs $10 per person (or couple).
Ali says the number of participants, and securing ongoing funding, will determine whether the sessions can continue after April 6. She is considering setting up a Charitable Trust and would be happy to hear from anyone interested in supporting the initiative.