created at: 2013-10-11“The energy in the room was palpable and grew from the start to the finish of the rehearsal. Members became more animated with each song and some who were lethargic before the rehearsal left the room with a new bounce in their step,” noted Cora MacDonald, a volunteer with the new JF&CS Tremble Clefs Summer Sings program.

Launched in 2009, JF&CS Tremble Clefs is a therapeutic singing group for people with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners. The program was created in collaboration with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Speech, Language, and Swallowing Disorders and MGH Partners Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center. The goal of the group is to address voice and communication problems through breathing, stretching and posture activities, vocal exercise, rhythm and movement, as well as to create a strong social support system. .

The group, which meets weekly during the fall, winter, and spring, is led by volunteer conductor Marilyn Okonow and accompanied by pianist Joe Reid. The group has been so successful that participants expressed the desire to continue meeting over the summer – despite the challenges of summer schedules — in order to maintain both their social bonds as well as their vocal quality.

As a result, the first Summer Sings program of the JF&CS Tremble Clefs was born. Sessions were held once a month, in June, July, and August. Summer sessions differed from the winter ones in that they were led by pianist Joe Reid and followed by lunch provided by the JF&CS Parkinson’s Family Support program. The sessions were also less structured than the winter ones, with participants requesting and voting for songs. The informal structure enabled participants to share their favorite music and “ham it up” a bit, with everything from Ethel Merman imitations to an energetic “Annie Get Your Gun” medley. Clearly, these participants were “doin’ what comes naturally” and they proved that “there’s no business like show business.”

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