Music can play a powerful neurological role

Consider the following exchange quoted in a Neurology Now magazine interview. The article was titled “Unchained by Melody” and referred to findings by the late world-famous neurologist, Oliver Sacks.

Neurology Now: What do we know about the effects of music upon people with Parkinson’s?

Oliver Sacks: “In general, when one has a disease of the basal ganglia – such as Parkinson’s – and low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the flow of movement, speech, thought, and feeling has either stopped or takes on a stuttering, sputtering quality. Music can reorganize this and give the people a pattern and timing and rhythm. So, in this way, I think of music as a sort of prosthesis for the injured part of the brain.”

Equally interesting is the following information from an April 2016 write-up in Medical News Today about the effect of music on Parkinson’s (for the full article, visit

“Impairments in breathing and voice are also substantial hurdles that cause a significant drop in quality of life.

Voice impairments impact 60-80% of Parkinson’s patients. Their voice can become monotone and display less variety in volume; there may also be a reduced vocal intensity and pitch, and a harsh, breathy voice.

           Standard Parkinson’s treatments do not target these aspects with the same level of success as the motor symptoms.”

Our Parkinson’s Fitness programming is initiating a new pilot choral group for North Shore Parkinson’s residents for the five Monday afternoons in August. To address facial, swallowing and vocal issues, as well as to foster joy and friendship, our team has partnered with music and neurologic music therapist, Emily Interrante, who lives and practices in the Cape Ann area. Here are the particulars:

Where:  Beverly Council on Aging, second floor (parking and entrance in rear of building), 90 Colon Street, Beverly

Dates:   Mondays – August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29

Time:    2:15 to 3:30 PM – please arrive by 2:15 to “settle in” before the warm-up and singing begins at 2:30

Cost:     Initial five weeks are free of charge!

No prior singing or music-reading experience is necessary. Family members and other support providers are invited to join in this joyful experience.

To register, please email: or phone Parkinson’s Fitness at 781-631-7221 or 781-572-5918


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