Hark, the Herald Grannies and Grandpas sing...

Hark, the Herald Grannies and Grandpas sing...

20 Dec 2010

As Australia’s population ages, new La Trobe University research suggests there may be health benefits from turning an old Christmas tradition on its head.

Choral singers Instead of children singing carols for parents and grand parents, older people could consider taking over the singing role.

A just released seven-week study of voice exercise training of 22 ageing community choral singers has found significant improvements in people’s voices.

As well as the scientific findings showing the voices became stronger and less rough, participants also perceived a definite improvement.

The Honour’s study’s supervising researcher, speech pathologist Debbie Phyland, says the human voice changes with normal ageing after the age of 65. It develops a more tremulous, wobbly sound.

’There is an overall reduction in vocal efficiency, which can affect the vocal health and overall psychosocial well-being of people. Our study was done to find if it would be possible to mitigate aspects of vocal ageing, and hence its negative impacts.’

The study sample group of 14 women and 8 men singers was chosen from the Choir of the Hawthorn University of the Third Age (U3A).  They took part in four weeks of training sessions and three weeks of independent home practice.

Ms Phyland says the results prove that the old adage ‘use it or lose it’, applies as much to the voice, as it does to most other age-related activity.

While choral singing has been shown to have many benefits, for example through the release of endorphins, she says humming alone is a very good exercise for the vocal cords, strengthening and stretching them, and promoting ‘good vibrations’.

‘Four sessions of about ten minutes a day are ideal for maintaining a flexible and younger-sounding voice,’ Ms Phyland says.


• For more information contact Debbie Phyland, email: dphyland@hotkey.net.au – or see the U3A Choir on http://choir.u3ahawthorn.org.au/gallery.htm

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