Virtual choir celebrates singing to alleviate Parkinson’s disease symptoms

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People who sing to alleviate their Parkinson's disease symptoms join together in a virtual choir. Students working in the neurology lab with Elizabeth Stegemöller at Iowa State University helped record and edit the concert.

A virtual choir number sung by 170 people with Parkinson’s disease will debut live at 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday, September 8, online. The performers who sing to improve their motor symptoms — as well as stress and quality of life — were each recorded separately. The recordings were combined by a team of Iowa State University students who work in the neuromotor laboratory with Elizabeth Stegemöller, an associate professor of kinesiology.

The choir’s rendition of “What the World Needs Now is Love” will debut live on Music and Mind LIVE with Renée Fleming, an online series which features the acclaimed singer in conversation with scientists and practitioners who work at the intersection of music, neuroscience, and healthcare.  The event can be viewed from the Iowa State University College of Human Sciences Facebook page, during the debut or any time after.

Participating singing groups include The Ames Gang: (Iowa) directed by Elizabeth Stegemöller; Waverly Warblers: (Iowa) directed by Kara Rewarts; Orange County Tremble Clefs: (California) directed by Karen Skipper; Tremble Clefs Arizona (Arizona) directed by Sunjoo Lee; Rush Copley Memorial (Illinois) directed by Linda Jerdzyk; SING OUT! (Northwestern Medicine (Illinois) directed by Jessica Pouranfar; Petersons PD Choir (Tennessee) directed by Carrie Friddell; North State Therapy Choir (California) directed by Erin Haley and Pam Sachs; Singing with Parkinson’s Chorus, Concord Conservatory (Massachusetts) directed by Greta Feenly; Tremble Clefs Massachusetts directed by Ann Muskopf and Marilyn Okonow; The Parkinsonics (Maryland) directed by Leo Wanenchak and Ellen Talles; PD singing group (Florida) directed by Danielle Porter; Park n’ Songs  (Toowoomba, Australia) directed by Clare Birchley; Park n’ Songs (Bayside, Australia) directed by Fiona Sham; Park n’ Songs (Ashwood, Australia) directed by Geoff Serpell and Monika Harris.

The groups will come together again virtually on September 30, for a concert on YouTube, as part of their annual festival. At the festival, the individual groups will each perform a number. The directors will also join together as a virtual choir for one of the piece.

Sponsors of the virtual choir activity include Green Hills Retirement Community, American Parkinson’s Disease Association – Iowa Chapter, and Iowa State University.

The National Endowment for the Arts provides research and communications assistance to Music and Mind Live. 

A virtual choir comprised of people who sing to alleviate their Parkinson’s disease symptoms and Elizabeth Stegemöller will appear on Music and Mind LIVE online, September 8 at 4 p.m. CT. The piece will remain available available for viewing after the debut.