Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint.
-Georgia O'Keefe

From "Why These Emphysema Patients Sing," by Linda Tagliaferro. Published by Spirituality & Health Magazine:

Singers from rock stars to opera virtuosi have long relied on breathing exercises to increase lung capacity. Now, a study by music therapist Rebecca Engen in the Journal of Music Therapy (Spring 2005) suggests that these exercises may also help emphysema sufferers. Engen held twelve 45-minute vocal classes for small groups of senior citizens, emphysema patients who were not singers.

Warm-ups included blowing props such as pinwheels for a lighthearted approach to controlling airflow. Then Engen led group sing-alongs to reinforce concepts of deep breathing. A two-week follow-up showed continued use of diaphragmatic breathing and a psychological benefit. "Instead of letting the disease control their breathing, they felt they learned to control it a bit," said Engen. To find music therapists, visit

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus