Back in January I mentioned that my mother had a major stroke. She continues to make progress in regaining some movement, but it is a very, very slow business.
One health issue concerns breathing and speaking. Her voice has lost a lot of its previous quality – particularly intonation and pitch. As part of her rehabilitation, she had some sessions with a speech therapist who recommended the type of vocal exercises that I would normally do in class before singing; for example,
Breathing exercises: long deep breaths, breathing slowly in, breathing slowly out, or exercising the diaphragm by making quick, gentle “ha, ha, ha” sounds, checking to feel that you are using your diaphragm
Sirening, where you range up and down in pitch using “ng”, “ooh”, “ah” or “zz” sounds
Singing, anything – just keep it simple and fun
This is all well and good, but a little difficult to do on your own in your living room without feeling self conscious!
However, my mother has started going to an activities centre once a week, and last time they had a bit of a “sing-song” in the afternoon. At first, she didn’t feel at all inclined to join in, but in the end decided to sing along anyway. It turned out to be more fun that she had expected, more enjoyable, and also is clearly helpful for rehabilitating her speaking voice.
If you are looking for an opportunity for community involvement, perhaps a regular slot in a nearby day centre might be worth looking into?