Random Thoughts: Playing the Vocal Instrument

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By Cyndee Williams Bowen, SLP

Production of human voice may be viewed as comparable to playing a musical instrument. Skilled musicians do not neglect the basics. They know that dedicated practice is required to achieve and maintain a high level of performance. They never outgrow the need to practice scales and continuously hone perception of pitch, intensity, and rhythm/timing. Skill declines when practice is neglected. In other words use it or lose it!

A person with Parkinson’s disease proposed this analogy recently when s/he had completed the half-way point in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) LOUD® protocol. It was a wonderful example of emerging awareness of the importance of the daily exercises. Neglecting them allows PD to take its toll on vocal intensity, articulation, and perception.

A musician must only practice daily while s/he wants to maintain a high level of performance. A person with Parkinson’s will always need to be heard and understood to achieve wants, needs, and interact socially. When asked how long a person with PD must complete daily LSVT LOUD® exercises, I always answer: only for as long as you have Parkinson’s!

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Cyndee Bowen owns Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in Clearwater, Florida. She proactively and creatively empowers her clients to achieve and maintain their best quality voice, speech, and swallowing. She is certified by LSVTGlobal, Inc. to provide LSVT LOUD® and eLOUD® to people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurogenic communication disorders.

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