SSYMCA and SSC Team Up to Offer Singing With Parkinson’s Chorus

Posted: Jan. 11, 2019 Learn More about Laura's Center for the Arts

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and motor skills, with the disease’s symptoms worsening as the condition progresses over time. Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications and exercise have each been proven to improve symptoms.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, exercise, specifically, is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and activities of daily living for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Supported by a wide range of studies and research, exercise can improve many of the disease’s symptoms, demonstrating that establishing early movement and exercise habits is essential to overall disease management.

With this in mind, the South Shore YMCA’s Laura’s Center for the Arts and the South Shore Conservatory will come together to offer a therapeutic choral experience designed by board certified music therapists to address the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, build community, and offer joyful opportunities for growth.

“The South Shore YMCA is excited to be collaborating with the South Shore Conservatory on this project,” said Dan Berry, Executive Director, South Shore YMCA-Emilson Branch. “We are thrilled to expand programming around inclusion and medical wellness.  These are two primary areas of focus for our organization and a great need in the South Shore. Being able to collaborate with the South Shore Conservatory is a great way to be able to expand our reach together and promote both organizations missions and expand programs and services around these needs. We look forward to developing the chorus for individuals with Parkinson’s with SSC, and to exploring other opportunities to collaborate further in the future.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Laura’s Center for the Arts at the SSYMCA,” echoed Eve Montague, Director of Creative Arts Therapies Department, South Shore Conservatory. “Access and inclusion are at the heart of our missions and the interface of the 2 organizations is exciting. We know that wellness is not the absence of illness, but rather how we choose to live our lives, given who we are. Working together, we are able to reach more individuals in creative ways.”

As PD progresses, those living with the disease oftentimes experience changes in speech, including speaking in a softened or slurred manner. To combat these changes, the chorus will serve as a weekly opportunity for participants to encourage vocal and facial drills, allowing them to stretch their muscles and voices while singing songs together.

“Neurologically, music affects the brain and muscles in a way that allows individuals to use their voice and move their bodies more effectively and powerfully,” explained Montague. “The structure of music and its ability to re-circuit in our brains when areas shut down provides opportunity for individuals living with Parkinson’s to address multiple symptoms in a fun and social way. Singing in a chorus works on voice work, muscle work/exercise, and creating community, and provides patterns, practice habits, and social engagement, designed to maintain not just skills, but quality of life as well.”

The chorus, available free of charge to all those living with Parkinson’s as well as their caretakers, will take place every Wednesday from 1-2:30 pm beginning on Wednesday, January 16. The chorus will gather at the fully accessible Laura’s Center for the Arts, located at 97 Mill Street in Hanover, MA (on the South Shore YMCA’s Emilson branch campus). This program is supported by a grant from the American Parkinson Disease Association, MA Chapter and is offered free of charge to all participants.

In addition to the chorus, the South Shore YMCA also offers physical activities specifically designed for those living with Parkinson’s disease, including:

  • Pedal and Punch for Parkinson’s: A class that combats the symptoms of Parkinson’s by aiming to improve motor functions through a variety of exercises. Aerobic exercise while pedaling on the bike, combined with exercises and punches, aim to help participants with daily life activities as well as exercises that improve gait, balance, tremor, and mobility. (Thursdays at 1 pm, Emilson branch, free to members)
  • Cycle for Parkinson’s: Pedaling a bicycle may change the life of someone with PD. Research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic showed a 35% reduction in symptoms by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace. While fast pedaling may not be a cure for Parkinson’s disease, there is compelling evidence to show that it does make a real difference to many who try it.During this class, train on indoor bikes together with a certified Parkinson’s exercise instructor. (Wednesdays at 12 pm, Emilson Branch, free to members, first session free to non-members)
  • Strength Training for Parkinson’s: During this class, work on functional movements that will help with activities found in everyday life. Learn new exercises together from a certified Parkinson’s exercise instructor. (Wednesdays at 1:15 pm, ZoneWellness Center, free to members)

For more information about any of the South Shore YMCA’s pedaling or functional exercise programs for those living with Parkinson’s disease, contact Kate Mortland, Certified Parkinson’s Exercise Instructor, South Shore YMCA, at or 781-264-7913.

For additional details about the chorus, which is offered free of charge and open to all those living with Parkinson’s and their care-partners, contact Eve Montague, Director of Creative Arts Therapies Department, South Shore Conservatory, at or (781) 934-2731 ext. 20.


About the South Shore YMCA

The South Shore YMCA is a not-for-profit association of individuals dedicated to improving the quality of life for all through programs that promote healthy spirit, mind, and body. Serving the communities of Quincy, Randolph, Holbrook, Weymouth, Braintree, Milton, Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hanover and beyond, the South Shore Y provides the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive through its services and programs. Financial Assistance is a Y community benefit available to all families in need, applicable to all Y programs and services. To learn more about the South Shore YMCA, visit The South Shore YMCA. The Better You Belongs Here.

About the South Shore Conservatory
South Shore Conservatory, (SSC) has been providing access to and enriching the lives of South Shore residents through music and the arts for almost 50 years. Recognized as a national model for arts education by the National Guild for Community Arts Education, SSC is the largest, not-for-profit, community school for the arts in Massachusetts, serving over 4500 students of all ages and abilities at two beautiful campuses and in partnership with schools, and social service and community agencies throughout the South Shore. A third campus in Hanover is scheduled to open to the public for classes and programs in the summer of 2020.