Can People With Parkinson’s Disease Sing?

Soundscape Music Therapy

Linda Ronstadt perfoming in 1978 Linda Ronstadt perfoming in 1978

Not too long ago, superstar singer Linda Ronstadt told the world that she has Parkinson’s disease. Because of this, she said, “I can’t sing at all…I can’t sing a note.”

Along with a world full of music lovers, I am very sorry to hear of Ronstadt’s health struggles. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to lose one’s voice, and I recognize that it takes an extra dose of courage as a celebrity to share this kind of diagnosis, since she will inevitably become another “face” of this not-so-pretty disease. I doubt that anyone wants to be remembered for one of the worst things that happened to them.

Ronstadt has given us the opportunity, though, to have a new conversation about Parkinson’s Disease and, specifically, how it affects the voice.

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More Speech Therapy

Last week, I was lucky enough to work with another speech therapist, this time in Lewisham. The speech therapist worked at the patient’s house. I observed a lovely lady in Bromley who has had Parkinson’s for almost twenty years. Again there was much emphasis on the loudness of the voice while maintaining vocal quality. Another day that has got my brain whirring with ideas of how to bring these ideas into a choral/singing context.


On Monday, I had the privilege of observing the Parkinsongsters in Hastings run by Jane Metcalfe. The group has been running for 4 years and is mainly for Parkinson sufferers and their carers although it has recently widened to include singers with other problems. But I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who was who, carer, Parkinson sufferer etc as it was a wonderful session focusing on singing in preparation for a concert in August. This group demonstrates what is so wonderful about this work. Singing together is such a leveller but also so uplifting and life affirming. I had had quite a long drive to get there and was a little weary but after the session I felt revived!

Have a look at this wonderful review of the Parkinsongsters

Good luck to Jane and the group for their forthcoming concerts.

Health and Harmony

Today was an inspirational day. My mind is still buzzing . I am in awe of all the wonderful work going on in this country with relation to music, health and well-being.

I was lucky enough to be asked to be on the panel for the Health and Harmony Conference as part of the City of London Festival. Now, as I am a singer and not a speaker, I was slightly terrified. However, I did manage to add to a fascinating and lively discussion on research, practise and issues at the forefront of this work. I learnt far more than I contributed.

It was also an honour to watch Lea Cornthwaite, Director of the Mind and Soul Choir, Phoene Cave, an expert in Singing and respiratory disease, Charlotte Cunningham, a leader in dementia and the arts demonstrate their areas of expertise. It was also fascinating to hear the latest findings on research in this area from Stephen Clift.

A day that I won’t forget quickly.