Leathia and Jonathan Conrow enjoy singing and they say they really enjoy this time of year, because the choir they are a part of is currently going over Christmas classics.
“It keeps your mind going and it keeps your mouth going as well, so we’ve enjoyed it quite a bit,” Jonathan said.
The couple is a part of the Shaken, Not Stirred Parkinson’s choir, lead by Richard Lewellen, who says three-quarters of the people diagnosed with Parkinson’s end up having some type of challenge with their voice and a small number of them seek treatment.
“Not only will you hear the voices become quieter, but also there’s less and less muscle coordination, and so that fragile voice, without being fully exercised can go quickly,” Lewellen said.
But the Conrows were proactive, and joined the choir soon after Jonathan was diagnosed
“In order to keep your voice strong and project and have people understand you, which is a typical Parkinson’s ailment,” Conrow said.
When Lewellen was a graduate student in Shenandoah University’s music therapy department, he did a case study where he vocally trained Parkinson’s patients. He says the study showed that the voices were improving or that they were stronger after eight weeks. And that study guided him to create the choir and continue helping those with Parkinson’s.
“Doing something like this, where its singing, its music, its with caregivers, its with other folks that are walking the same path on the same journey,” Lewellen said.
The group now meets once per week, and Lewellen says you don’t have to be a great singer to join the choir. And says if singing isn’t for you, he encourages anyone with Parkinson’s to find a treatment type that is.
“The folks with Parkinson’s who are not connected to a support group, I’d urge them to do that,” he said.
The choir meets every Wednesday at Westminster Canterbury.