Monthly Archives: July 2013

Is Singing Therapeutic?

Some say that singing is therapeutic.

That it’s healthy.

Here are some interesting facts about that subject and links the the research about it.

Read the why from:

 “The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders”   by Catherine Y. Wan, Theodor Rüber, Anja Hohmann, and Gottfried Schlaug  (Just portions of these articles are quoted)

“Music making (playing an instrument or singing) is a multimodal activity that involves the integration of auditory and sensorimotor processes. The ability to sing in humans is evident from infancy, and does not depend on formal vocal training but can be enhanced by training. Given the behavioral similarities between singing and speaking, as well as the shared and distinct neural correlates of both, researchers have begun to examine whether singing can be used to treat some of the speech-motor abnormalities associated with various neurological conditions. This paper reviews recent evidence on the therapeutic effects of singing, and how it can potentially ameliorate some of the speech deficits associated with conditions such as stuttering, Parkinson’s disease, acquired brain lesions, and autism. By reviewing the status quo, it is hoped that future research can help to disentangle the relative contribution of factors to why singing works. This may ultimately lead to the development of specialized or “gold-standard” treatments for these disorders, and to an improvement in the quality of life for patients.
Singing in particular can serve as a valuable therapeutic tool because it is a universal form of musical expression that is as natural as speaking. Moreover, singing engages an auditory-motor feedback loop in the brain more intensely than other music making activities such as instrumental playing (e.g., Bangert et al., 2006; Kleber et al., 2009). From a developmental perspective, babies produce vocalizations that can be regarded as precursors for music and speech intonation (Welch, 2006). By kindergarten age, children can sing a fairly large repertoire of songs, and their performance level is similar to that of adults (Dowling, 1999). Some children exhibit “intermediate vocalizations,” a type of vocal behavior that lies at the boundary between speech and song (Mang, 2001). This blurring of boundaries is reinforced by a shared network in the brain that underlies both singing and speaking (e.g., Kleber et al., 2009; Ozdemir, Norton, & Schlaug, 2006). The goal of this paper is to summarize recent evidence on the therapeutic effects of singing, and how it can modify the speech-motor symptoms of several neurological disorders. Because of the overlap between the expressive components of the music and language systems, the focus of this review will be on the use of singing in the treatment of speech-motor abnormalities associated with neurological conditions.
General Physiological Effects of Singing
Singing, or the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, has the potential to treat speech abnormalities because it directly stimulates the musculature associated with respiration, phonation, articulation, and resonance. The act of singing involves relatively strong and fast inspirations, followed by extended, regulated expirations. Singing requires breathing to be regulated in order to sustain the notes. It also results in a higher vocal intensity (Tonkinson, 1994) and vocal control (Natke, Donath, & Kalveram, 2003) than does speaking. Moreover, it has been suggested that singing increases respiratory muscle strength (Wiens, Reimer, & Guyn, 1999).

Research has shown that intensive singing practice can lead to long-lasting changes in both the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Grape, Sandgren, Hansson, Ericson, and Theorell, (2003) compared professional and amateur singers on heart rate variability before and after their singing lessons. Their rationale for examining this variable rests on the assumption that the more the heart is able to vary its rate, the better trained it is. Across the two time points (before and after singing lessons), heart rate variability increased significantly in the professional group but not in the amateur group. This finding indicates that professional singers have better cardio-physiological fitness, compared to amateur singers, thus providing evidence for the potential long-term health benefits of singing.
Recently, the therapeutic effect of singing on pulmonary functions of chronically ill patients has been investigated. Bonilha et al. (2009) examined whether singing could have an effect on pulmonary function parameters in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These patients were randomly assigned to weekly classes consisting of either singing or handicraft (control) activities. Within the singing group, increases in dyspnea were reported after two minutes of vocal exercises. An elevated level of arterial oxygen saturation also was found during singing. While the singing group showed increased inspiratory capacity and decreased expiratory reserve volumes, the opposite patterns were observed in the control group on these two measures. More importantly, the singing group showed improvement in maximal expiratory pressure, while the control group showed deterioration on this measure. Because the act of singing requires long, repeated contractions of various respiratory muscles, this type of training may help to preserve the maximal expiratory pressure of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Stuttering can be helped by singing.

“Stuttering is a largely developmental condition that affects the fluency of speech. It is characterized by repetition of words or parts of words, as well as prolongations of speech sounds, resulting in disruptions in the normal flow of speech. This condition occurs most often in young children, while they are developing their speech and language skills. Stuttering may persist into adulthood: About 1% of adults continue to be affected by this condition (Prasse & Kikano, 2008). It has been suggested that stuttering may be linked with deficits in complex isochronous timing(A sequence of events is isochronous if the events occur regularly, or at equal time intervals.) (Max & Yudman, 2003).

Most existing treatments have focused on teaching individuals who stutter ways to produce more fluent speech, by instilling “fluency-enhancing” conditions. Singing, in particular, has been identified as having important therapeutic potential, and research has provided evidence in favor of this approach for enhancing fluency among individuals who stutter.”
Read the research at:

“The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders”
by Catherine Y. Wan, Theodor Rüber, Anja Hohmann, and Gottfried Schlaug

From history as portrayed in the film “The King’s Speech” about Bertie the English Monarch.

The King’s Speech teaches about stuttering
by Peter Wehrwein, Editor, Harvard Health

“In the movie, the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, has his royal client, played by Colin Firth, sing, swear (the swearing is the reason for the film’s R rating), and perform various strange vocal exercises. Despite their quarrels and class differences, the strong bond between the two men (at one level, the movie is a Masterpiece Theater–style bromance) is also presented as being crucial to the king’s heroic, and eventually successful, efforts to control his stutter.”

Get the film “The King’s Speech” on DVD 
Other conditions helped by singing:
Aphasia is a common and devastating complication of stroke or other brain injuries that results in the loss of ability to produce and/or comprehend language.
Parkinson’s Disease
Another condition whose symptoms can potentially be helped by singing is autism.
Research about these also at:
How about singers in the public eye?
Mel Tillis
His stutter developed during his childhood, a result of a bout with malaria.
It didn’t effect his singing any and he used it to great entertainment effect when talking.

Watch a funny story where he plays on the stuttering:     Or get “The best of Mel Tillis” on audio CD 

Lazaro Arbos
Ever since he was 6 years-old, Lazaro Arbos sought comfort in singing. – See more at:

So singing can stop stuttering and is good for your heart and respiratory system and can cure the brain and calm the savage beast.

In other words, Singing is healthy.

12/12/2014:                                                                                                                                            Here is a new comment on one of my “How to speak better” videos form a man who stutters. He has a good suggestion for those with the problem.

Thanks for the video. I’m a stutterer and I’m working on diaphragmatic speaking with a focus on vowels. Vowel intention helps stutterers from blocking on consonants.

You have a new subscriber. Keep it coming, Jay.
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What is Pitch Perfect?

No not the wildly popular Cup Song artist.

No not the musical comedy.

I mean perfect pitch in music.

It can be with a wind instrument such as the voice.

Who has it naturally?

This is what one author has to say on the subject:

“What is perfect pitch? This is a phenomenon that a few people are born with and millions more wish they had. It is the marvelous ability to simply hear a note (or chord) played and be able to recognize and name that note (or chord). I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this trait is a really big asset to have if you’re in the musical performing business or even if you’d just like to go out with friends and sing karaoke without seeing other people plug their ears in pain when it’s your turn to sing!”

Another author goes on to explain it this way:

What is perfect pitch? To be able to recognize or recreate a musical note at will, you must possess perfect pitch, also called absolute pitch. The ability benefits musicians because they are able to sing in a particular key at will, transcribe melodies easily, and tune instruments to concert pitch without a tuner. Although the ability is quite rare (about 1 in 10,000), many musicians who have it are adept at both identifying and recreating notes.

Theory of Perfect Pitch

What is more important is the question of “how?” We all know what perfect pitch is, but how do this minority of people recognize these supposed elusive “qualities” of the notes? How does the ability work and what are the “qualities” that people say separate the notes? Some of the world’s most accomplished musicians do not have perfect pitch, however, most of us exhibit amazing skills of aural recognition every day. For example, we can easily recognize our mother’s voice amongst hundreds of other voices and sounds. So, why can’t we hear the tone qualities between different notes?

To answer these questions, we need to understand a few basic acoustic principles. To start with, tonal sounds from any source contain fundamental frequencies of the notes being played as well as harmonics of those frequencies. Harmonics are also called overtones and all tonal sounds contain them. Even if a single sine wave tone is generated and output to a loudspeaker, there will be harmonics in the sound. This is because of the physical nature of waves to create other waves. These harmonics are multiples of the fundamental frequency of the note playing. When you play an A440 on your instrument, the sound you hear is made up from 440 Hz, 880 Hz, 1320 Hz, 1760 Hz, 2200 Hz, and so on. The energy of the fundamental (440 Hz) is often the highest and the energy of each increasing harmonic decreases, as a general rule, but not with all instruments. The second harmonic as also called the “first overtone”. This article will use the terminology of harmonics to avoid the confusion.

The harmonic spectrum for each instrument is different. For example, a clarinet has a strong fundamental with stronger odd harmonics than the even ones. The guitar, on the other hand, has a higher second, sixth, and seventh harmonic.

Obviously, the harmonic spectra are different. The instruments do not sound alike at all. The harmonic spectrum of a tonal sound is what gives it its own timbre, as well as noise components. We can easily tell the difference between a flute and a saxophone because they have very different harmonic spectra.

In summary, the unique “quality” or timbre of a tonal sound is always determined by its harmonic levels.

When it comes to perfect pitch, we can say that there are “qualities” that distinguish the notes and musicians recognize these differences in timbre to tell the notes apart. We know that composers with perfect pitch may choose a certain key for its characteristics, depending on the mood of the piece. So how does this fit in with the harmonic spectra of the notes when we know this to be determined by the instrument? Well, the shocking, but obvious truth is that there is no physical difference in “timbre” between the different notes. It only takes a moments’ thought to realize that any actual difference would have been measured a long time ago and the mystery of perfect pitch would be no more. The perceived difference between the notes is due to the frequency response and resonant frequencies of the human ear.

The ear is like a microphone, with moving parts, which resonate at certain frequencies and is better at hearing some frequencies than others. The ear will respond differently to the various harmonic components of any tonal sound. We hear some frequency components as louder than others when they actually have the same loudness.

The response of the ear is seen on an Equal Loudness curve and is the same for everyone with good hearing. The ear is most sensitive at 4000 Hz and a sound at 30 Hz has to be almost one million times as powerful as one at 4 kHz to be perceived the same.

The ear has resonances because of certain resonating parts. For example, the auditory canal has a resonance at about 3 kHz. Other sources for non-linearity in the ear are the complex cochlea behavior, the vibration of the eardrum, and the bones in the middle ear.

Of course, the equal loudness response of the ear is only part of the story of human hearing. The ear is always exposed to many different frequencies and there are many complex phenomena at work. For example, when one frequency masks another and how this depends greatly on the values of these frequencies.

So What is Perfect Pitch?

In summary, the perceived difference in harmonic spectra between the notes of the scale is at the root of perfect pitch. First, there exists the actual harmonic levels of the sound. Then there is a perceived spectrum resulting from the response of the ear. The brain is extremely complex and those who have perfect pitch are simply able to tune in to the spectrum of the sound resulting from the resonances of the ear and can distinguish this from the physical spectrum created by the instrument. The harmonics of the notes are not given nearly as much attention in musical training as the fundamental tones and intervals, which leads to perfect pitch being very rare. Learning the skill of perfect pitch is about learning to listen to the harmonics of tonal sounds, which is certainly achievable.”

Oh for Pete’s sake.

It’s not sounding sour. If it’s perfect it doesn’t grate on the senses.   But he does say that it can be learned.

Good, there’s hope for me.

Another author puts it much more simply:

“….here are a few facts about it you might find interesting:

There are two types – Relative pitch is when you can tell where different notes are in relationship to each other. Perfect or Absolute pitch is when you can hear a note and then name it. Most people have relative pitch as opposed to absolute. Either quality is wonderful to have for the hopeful performer.
Non-musical people can have it – There was a new test developed recently that checked people to see if they had the ability to recognize pitch or keys and they discovered that many of the people found to possess this ability had no musical training at all. It seems that tests in the past had been made only for people with musical training. This new test, based on the process that babies use to recognize words or phrases, made it possible to test anyone.
Absolute pitch can be learned – That’s right! It use to be thought (and is still thought by many) that it’s an inherent trait. That is not true. It’s a skill like anything else and can be developed as such.

So, what is perfect pitch? It’s a necessary talent you need to have if you want to perform music well.”

This guy says I can learn it too.

Wonderful! Where do I start?

Well, that’s a topic for another time.

Oh, so you are impatient? Okay then, here are some resources you can acquire to learn at your own pace.

Here’s a course you can get from Amazon:

This course has mixed reviews. One reader said it was hard and referred to this quote:  “You might gain some traces of perfect pitch, but generally people who learn it are never as good as people who were born with it and retained it.”

Whereas another said: “5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderful…complainers didn’t follow CD’s instructions.
The good things about this product have already been said multiple times. The bad comments, though, need some correction.”

And he went on to explain and answer objections.

(If it were me, I’d get a used course for $90 as opposed to a new one for $120. I’m always trying to get the best deal as I’m sure you are.)

Catch you next time.



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Singing can change our Lives

In the middle of town, along the sycamore lined streets of Santa Clara, Utah, across from the town’s Heritage Square and an LDS church house, is an old house that is home to a singing voice studio- The Stage Door. The owner is a young man named Brodie Perry. Brodie is a singer and a popular singing coach.
Can he sing?
Well, in my opinion if you take a Andrea Bocelli, Josh Grobin, Michael Buble, and any number of other contemporary vocalists and roll them all into one, you’ll have Brodie Perry. He’s that good.
He said that singing has taken him from a not so good person to a good one.
He has a young family, is a church choir and Culural Arts director,runs a successful voice coaching business.
I recently visited his studio, arrriving to find him at a computer, having just finished a lesson with a student in Greece. We spoke for 5 minutes or so before his next student, a young man, arrived.
I’d gone to see Brodie to ask if he’d guest blog for me.
“I usually get paid to do that sort of thing,” he said.
And he didn’t need any advertising of his services. So I left.
But a week or so later, he spoke at a fireside chat. (No one has a fire anymore but speeches given in the evening are still called fireside chats or just firsides.) I of course took notes.
The following are some of the highlights. I think you can learn much about your musical journey by learning about the journey of others. So here goes.
Brodie started life in San Fransico area of California. He didn’t sing but at age 13, to be close to a girl he liked, he joined the school choir. At 15 his parents moved from Concord, Ca to St. George, Utah. He was bitter over the move, having been torn from friends in school.
Upon arriving in the new high school (Pineview) he enrolled in choir under the tutlage of director Norman Lister. Norm has touched many lives. (I just saw him on the 4th at the celebrations in St. George where he was judging a singing competition.)
Norm said Brodie had an animated delivery. Brodie got in a quartet with “an easy song.” After they sang, the teacher asked Brodie, “Can you be here at 7 am?” He was asked to join the Madrigal Singers.
But at this time in Brodie’s life he lived for sports and girls, being on the football and baseball teams. However Norm Lister “opened my eyes to all kinds of music” “especially classical”.
He did choral and solo work.
After one solo, it was commented, “I didn’t know you were an opera singer.”
Mozart’s Don Giovanni and “all of a sudden I was swept into a classical world… a new world of opera.’
At this point in his remarks, he paused to sing “The Lord’s Prayer”. He gave a powerful delivery ending on a high tenor note though he is a barritone.
Back to his tale. His mother loved the singing of Johnny Mathis and 50s/60s music was big at his house.
“My teacher started working with me daily to get me to the next level.”
Norm Lister gives his students and community singing groups the opportunity to travel to New York City and to sing at Carnegie Hall. Brodie relates, “We got the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall”.
But before that happened, Opera singer Michael Ballum performed at the St. George Tabernacle. A duet (Jesu Bambino) had been arranged but the tenor didn’t show up for some reason and Brodie was asked to fill in. At the end of the number “and I kid you not, devine intervention stepped in, it was the only explanation,” I hit “a high G”. “It soared” “I don’t know where it came from.” He obsorbed it all in during the concert. And after the concert as Michael Ballum left the front doors, he stopped turned around and came back to Brodie and said, “I’ve got to talk to you again soon”.
The next week saw the school group at Carnegie Hall. After their show, he and his friend went to the Le Mis show and then to the Whoopi Goldberg show to see if they could shake her hand.
A 11 pm they got back to their hotel, the New Yorker. A message was there with his teacher to call Michael Ballum back in Utah no matter how late. When Mr. Ballum came on the line, Brodie was taken aback to hear that a baritone had dropped out of Ballum’s Summer Opera season and “would you like to fill in?”
Brodie is 17 at this time. The job would entail 2 operas and a play for the summer at $300 a week, housing, etc. He had to learn French. “blind luck” and he was “successful”.
“That summer is where it basically all began.”
Because of that summer, he got a full scholarship to Utah State University where he continued his singing and met his wife to be. Quit smoking and drinking liqour.
Here he interrupted for another song “The Test” (“after the trial we will be blessed.”)
Then he sang another song with a girl student, Avonlee Dalley, was presented. “The Prayer”
It was just as lovely as any rendition you have ever heard of this song, being delivered in English and Italien. His last note ended a perfect song soft and high.
“Music brings people together…feel the same emotions…music proves we are the same.” -John Denver.
“Music is the great Equalizer!”
Then Brodie reviewed the film Shawshank Redemption and how music was used and taught in it and how it changed the inmates of the prison. of Red’s harmonica “something inside they can’t get to you. It’s yours!” “those moments you’ll never ever forget.”
He quoted Stephen King on music. “I love music-all kinds…it gives me ideas-things I’d never think of.” Of the music score it “simply insisted on being in the movie”. And he wrote it while listening to the “Marriage of Figaro”.
“We, as musicians, are in the position to touch the souls of those who listen.” Spencer W. Kimball himself a piano player who one had a band.
Then Brodie sang the song “Consider the Lillies”
“I have way to much stuff to talk about,” he said afterwards.
He told of his singing experiences in Las Vegas and St. George Musical Theater and elsewhere.
“Music may influence more that speakers can.”-Boyd Packer
He sang one last song, a song written by Utah pioneer John Taylor, “Oh give me back my prophet dear”.
Brodie finished with a quote from Oliver Wendel Holmes,  “Alas for those who never sing but die with their songs unsung.”

Thanks to Brodie on great perspectives on singing and the power of it on our lives as on his.
Catch you next time.

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I like musicals

I like musicals whether movies or plays.

I like to hear people sing.

One can learn a lot by watching others sing and its very enjoyable too.

Amazon has all kinds of musical movies.

Here’s a whole list of Deanna Durbin films.

His Butler's Sister [VHS]
His Butler’s Sister [VHS]
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Franchot Tone (Actor), Frank Borzage(Director) | Format: VHS Tape
Price: $29.98
Ships from and sold by SameDayBooks&Videos.
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Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack (Three Smart Girls / Something In the Wind / First Love / It Started with Eve / Can't Help Singing / Lady on a Train)
Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack
Alice Brady (Actor), Barbara Read (Actor), Charles David (Director),Frank Ryan (Director) | Format: DVD
List Price: $26.98
Price: $9.54
You Save: $17.44 (65%)
Sold by Paint it Orange and Fulfilled by Amazon.
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The Amazing Mrs. Holliday
The Amazing Mrs. Holliday
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Edmond O’Brien (Actor), Bruce Manning(Director) | Format: DVD
Price: $19.98
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I'll Be Yours [VHS]
I’ll Be Yours [VHS]
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Tom Drake (Actor), William A. Seiter(Director) | Format: VHS Tape
Price: $39.50
Ships from and sold by captain-ziggy.
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Because of Him
Because of Him
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Charles Laughton (Actor), Richard Wallace(Director) | Format: DVD
Price: $19.98
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For the Love of Mary [VHS]
For the Love of Mary [VHS]
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Edmond O’Brien (Actor), Frederick De Cordova (Director) | Format: VHS Tape
List Price: $19.98
Price: $7.99
You Save: $11.99 (60%)
Ships from and sold by goodwillnyonline.
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For the Love of Mary
For the Love of Mary
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Ray Collins (Actor), Frederick De Cordova(Director) | Format: DVD
Price: $19.98
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Nice Girl [VHS]
Nice Girl [VHS]
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Franchot Tone (Actor), William A. Seiter(Director) | Format: VHS Tape
Price: $32.00
Ships from and sold by wintwins.
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Because of Him [VHS]
Because of Him [VHS]
Deanna Durbin (Actor), Charles Laughton (Actor), Richard Wallace(Director) | Format: VHS Tape
Price: $29.50
Ships from and sold by captain-ziggy.
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Have fun go get and listen again and again.

I do on almost daily at Jay’s Place for Blogs and Info Articles. There are movie clips there from her movies as well as video clips of other people. You ought to check them out too.

Till next time happy listening.


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