Parkinson’s Voice Project’s Annual Virtual Choir Concert Set for Nov. 6

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Parkinson Voice Project (PVP) is hosting its second annual Parkinson’s Virtual Choir Concert on Nov. 6, with more than 300 Parkinson’s disease patients from around the world and their family members and friends taking part.

The online event, which can be viewed on the PVP website, will feature soloists and two original songs — “We Find Our Voice” by Jeanie Adamson and “Intent” by Glen Vanlandingham — along with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” A virtual tour of the Parkinson’s Voice Project’s speech therapy clinic is also on tap.

Go here to reserve a spot for the free Saturday event, which starts at 7 p.m. CT, 8 p.m. ET.

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For the last two years, the virtual choir concert has replaced the nonprofit’s annual “SING OUT!,” a concert presented since 2006 and filled with the voices of patients that have been restored through speech therapy.

Last year’s online performances brought together singers from across the United States, joined by those in countries such as Canada, Nigeria, Australia, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom. More than 6,000 people from around the globe watched the concert, and more are expected this year, the group stated in a press release.

The Parkinson Voice Project works to help Parkinson’s patients improve their speech and swallowing. Some 90% of those living with the progressive neurodegenerative disorder are at risk of a weakening voice, and serious speech and swallowing difficulties.

As a result, the organization developed an online speech therapy program that combines individual speech therapy with daily speech practice and ongoing group sessions.

Individual sessions are part of SPEAK OUT!, which uses speech, voice, and cognitive exercises to address the motor issues related to Parkinson’s. Group sessions belong to the LOUD Crowd, a voice maintenance program consisting of speech therapy groups and a singing segment to foster voice strength retention.

The two-part program calls for each patient and a speech language pathologist to tackle a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises outlined in a specialized workbook. By emphasizing “speaking with intent,” SPEAK OUT! helps to move speech from an automatic function to a deliberate act. Since muscles needed for speech are also used for swallowing, the therapeutic gains are twofold.

The PVP’s clinic, located in Richardson, Texas, is staffed by specialists in treating speech and voice disorders related to Parkinson’s and associated syndromes.

Go here to view last year’s virtual choir performance and a mini-documentary about the Parkinson Voice Project. The organization also offers free online Parkinson’s speech exercises Monday through Friday starting at 10 a.m. CT; each is recorded for home practice at a convenient time.