Early in my career, while working in pediatrics, I obtained certification in an advanced therapeutic approach called: Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT). NDT was based on the work of the Bobaths, a husband and wife team, who developed the approach for the treatment of individuals with pathophysiology of the central nervous system, such as children with cerebral palsy, and adults following a stroke. The approach has evolved over the years incorporating new science, but it is still focused on treatment techniques which facilitate more normal movements.
As an NDT trained speech therapist, I gained skills and an understanding about how postures and movement were critical for the development of breath support and control for voice and swallowing. If this was true for the infant, I wondered, why not so for the adult?
What happens to us all on the way to adulthood? Why do we no longer use our voices when we move and play?
Since the creation of Voice Aerobics™ in 1999, I have been exploring ways to combine movement with voice practice. Not only can this provide more opportunities for practice of both throughout the day, but it is very possible that for some of you, your voice may infuse the movement with increased power, and likewise, the movement or gesture may add energy and volume to your voice.
Recently, I have been experimenting with a new idea. I call it: "Use Your Outside Voice." Yesterday, while providing a seminar to a Parkinson's Support Group, I called on one of the participants to" play" with me.
"Let's go to the dog park," I pretended. "Go catch the ball, Rusty," I said in a loud voice while gesturing the pitch of a ball. My volunteer participant, repeated the command in a not so loud voice and with arms silent alongside his body. "C'mon, I said, try it again." "Go catch the ball, Rusty," he said, this time, in a loud voice, with his right arm pitching an imaginary ball.
What dog would go fetch, I asked, if we were not enthusiastic and excited with our bodies and voice?
So, this is just a hunch I am playing with, but I invite you to try it out on your own. If you are someone with Parkinson's, and a voice that has grown too quiet, pretend you are at the dog park. Better yet, go visit the dog park, bring a few balls and treats, and USE YOUR OUTSIDE VOICE!