“It’s GOTTA be FUN!”
Be Heard! Voice for Parkinson’s with KT Warren is a class designed to face the challenges Parkinson’s Disease throws at the once-simple act of communication. “A lot of people with Parkinson’s become very isolated,” Warren explains. “They’re not making facial expressions regularly anymore, and their voice might be soft, raspy, or unclear. They start getting left out of conversations. It gets harder and harder to speak up, and they might stop advocating for themselves, or even feeling disconnected from their sense of humor, creativity and personality.”
It’s a heartbreaking prospect: being in communication is the very thing that enables us to be in community. So how does someone with Parkinson’s practice being heard?
“We play games,” Warren says. “It’s gotta be fun! Too much of life is hard. I try to weave in elements of perspective meditation, body awareness, and learning how to care for your instrument – that is, your body, mind, heart and vocal chords, all of which make up your voice in the world. But ultimately, we’re working to get the call-and-response reflex firing, so we play a lot of cue games and make each other laugh. People get really creative – I never know what they’re going to come up with!”
Students often leave feeling refreshed, happier, and more awake than when they arrived. KT Warren, a yoga teacher as well as voice coach, makes sure to warm up the facial, throat and mouth muscles – and the core, which is responsible for projecting sound. She gives mini-anatomy lessons in the midst of an exercise, asking students to feel their core (transverse) muscles working as they blow out a birthday candle, or bark like a dog.
“Getting playful with your voice is not just a gimmick,” Warren says. “Trying out different sounds will allow your vocal chords to exercise at different levels, and in different resonant chambers in your body. You can literally reduce vocal fatigue, just by getting playful!”
Meet the Teacher!
KT Warren’s background in theater brought her over 20 years of vocal training and knowledge of vocal health. When her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she discovered just how important this work was to a population in need. Already a certified RYT-200 yoga teacher and community choir director, KT worked with both Carol Fisher and John Argue, masters in the Parkinson’s therapy community, before developing Be Heard! which launched in March 2017.