Get involved locally with Paula Wolfson’s “Singing with Parkinson’s” Choir.
Help us expand the choir’s reach and impact. You can make a tax deductible donation through our online giving page.
Do you have Parkinson’s Disease? Do you enjoy or did you used to enjoy singing? Do you sometimes have trouble expressing yourself through your voice or facial expressions? Do you sometimes have a hard time recognizing how others might be feeling?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be interested in a new FREE choir program developed by researchers in the SMART Lab at Ryerson University in collaboration with the Royal Conservatory of Music.
What is the Parkinson’s choir and how is it different from other choirs?
Based on our recent research, the choir is specialized to focus specifically on improving vocal quality, facial expressiveness and emotion perception. It’s been found that people with Parkinson’s disease tend to have some difficulty producing facial expressions, even though the person is feeling all of their usual emotions on the inside. Sometimes this makes it difficult to communicate emotions to other people, and family members and friends can also sometimes be affected because they may have difficulty reading how the person is feeling at certain times.
The Parkinson’s choir involves singing both happy/upbeat songs and sad/slower songs while mirroring the choir director’s expressions for each of those emotions. Our previous research has shown that this mirroring activity helps people with Parkinson’s improve their facial expressiveness, vocal strength and emotional understanding.
Where and when does the choir take place?
The choir will take place on Sundays at 4:30pm, starting September 27th. As before, it will be held at the Royal Conservatory of Music (273 Bloor Street West) in room G010. You will find the room by entering through the main glass door entrance from Bloor Street, heading down the ramp, turning left down the first hallway and continuing along almost to the very end, where you will see the room on your left. The choir will run for a total of 13 weeks per season, with each session lasting an hour. This hour of singing is followed by a social hour with refreshments provided.
If you’re interested in joining the choir in the fall, please use the form at the bottom of this page to register. You’re more than welcome to bring a friend or family member, but please let us know so that we can reserve a spot for them too.
Who runs the choir?
The Choir is coordinated by the SMART lab at Ryerson University. Paula Wolfson, an Artist/Educator affiliated with the Royal Conservatory of Music, serves as choirmaster.
What songs are sung?
We know it’s important to sing something you enjoy, that’s why we would love to hear your feedback about the kind of music that you like (please see registration form below). We try to select both upbeat and slower songs that work well with expressing emotion and are also the most enjoyable for our members to sing. All lyric sheets will be provided.
Do I have to be a good singer?
Absolutely not! The choir is simply open to anybody with Parkinson’s disease who would like to sing in a choir and is interested in the benefits it may bring. A lot of our members expressed these concerns about being able to sing the first time around, but the choir ended up sounding fantastic! The main focus is on expressing the emotions of the song while singing, as this is what our research suggests will help strengthen all the muscles and brain connections that are needed for producing facial and vocal expressions, and to help understand other people’s emotions. The choir is intended to be a laid-back, enjoyable experience, but it’s quite likely you will come out of it a better singer too!
Can I participate in research?
As a member of the choir, you will have the opportunity to contribute to further research that examines the benefits of singing in people with Parkinson’s disease. Participating in research is entirely optional and does not affect your choir membership. Please contact416-979-5000 Ext. 4989 to enquire about these opportunities.
How do I sign up?
If you are interested in joining the choir, you can register by using the form below. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact416-979-5000 Ext. 4989