Tag Archives: science

Singing aids the sound of silence for snorers

photo by Cris Saur

If all you crave at night is the sound of silence, encouraging somebody who snores to sing for their supper could be the key to a peaceful night’s sleep, and the clip below will be music to your ears. We know from experience that an interrupted sleep pattern impacts negatively on concentration levels and increases the likeliness of accidents and mistakes during our waking hours.

Snoring can also lead to loss of friends if we’re putting up enough zeds to disrupt the sleep of others on a regular basis, and when we’re tired, we become more susceptible to illness so the ramifications of this nocturnal behaviour can be detrimental to the general health and well being of everyone in the fall out zone.

Having first hand experience of a partner who snored, British community choir director and composer, Alise Ojay, designed and created a set of simple singing exercises, Singing for Snorers, focussed on strengthening the soft tissues of the palate and the upper throat, specifically the pharyngeal muscles which, like any other areas of the body, grow slack without exercise.

Sorry folks, it’s true: even your epiglotiss needs a work out. But don’t lose heart at this point, because it’s where the good news begins: Epiglottal flaps don’t require tread mills or gym memberships to start shaping up. All that’s required is for the soon to be proud owner of the pharyngeal muscles to open their mouth and sing, making the sounds ‘ung’ and ‘gar’ a practise Alise Ojat refers to as ‘giving the whole snoring apparatus a work out.’

Alise, a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners network, undertook her initial research to determine whether singing exercises could in fact be used as a non-invasive treatment to increase muscle tone in the tissues of the throat in 2000, as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. A clinical trial followed in May 2013 involving a study group of 93 patients who completed a self-guided treatment programme of singing exercises, performing from a 3CD boxed set for 20 minutes daily.

The findings of the trial concluded that use of singing exercises to strengthen the throat across a period of three months  contributed significantly to a reduction of snoring pollution in the atmosphere. It demonstrated that singing holds real potential to improve the health and wellbeing not only of snorers, but the quality of life for their partners and housemates, too:

“The Epworth Sleepiness Scale  improved significantly in the experimental group compared to the control group. The frequency of snoring also reduced significantly in the experimental group and loudness of snoring showed a trend to improvement…” The research write up concluded:

Improving the tone and strength of pharyngeal muscles with a 3 months programme of daily singing exercises reduces the severity, frequency and loudness of snoring, and improves symptoms of mild to moderate sleep apnoea.”

So if you’re living with somebody who snores, or if you suspect that you are susceptible to it yourself, try frequent singing exercises (and singing more frequently!) as an early approach to addressing the issue and set to work on achieving a set of buff pharyngeal muscles: they’re understatedly sexy and guaranteed to make you better off in bed.

A list of singing groups across Victoria can be found on the groups page of the Community Music Victoria website to assist you in your mission and a link to Alise’s Singing for Snorers exercises can be found on the CMVic online repertoire resources page. Let us know how you go!

Reference: Singing Exercises Improve Sleepiness and Frequency of Snoring among Snorers—A Randomised Controlled Trial

Written by Deb Carveth, online Editor for Community Music Victoria



A child’s brain develops faster with exposure to music education

A study by researchers at the University of Southern California shows that exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children.

Source: A child’s brain develops faster with exposure to music education

Seeing in tune

Musicians don’t just hear in tune, they also see in tune.

By David Salisbury

150626SeeintuneThat is the conclusion of the latest scientific experiment designed to puzzle out how the brain creates an apparently seamless view of the external world based on the information it receives from the eyes.

“Our brain is remarkably efficient at putting us in touch with objects and events in our visual environment, indeed so good that the process seems automatic and effortless. In fact, the brain is continually operating like a clever detective, using clues to figure out what in the world we are looking at. And those clues come not only from what we see but also from other sources,” said Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, who directed the study.

Scientists have known for some time that the brain exploits clues from sources outside of vision to figure out what we are seeing. For example, we tend to see what we expect to see based on past experience. Moreover, we tend to see what our other senses tell us might be present in the world, including what we hear. Read more

NB: The Community Music Victoria model of teaching doesn’t rely on a person’s ability to read music and follow dots. In singing leadership, for example, we involve a hand, raised and lowered to demonstrate changes in pitch, creating a visual soundscape which is inclusive and easy to follow. It would be interesting to know how that kind of cognitive association with music applies in the context of these findings.

Recipe for a weekend warmer

weekendwarmerWe’re trying a new approach to the blog this week! As it’s getting colder and more wintery with every passing day here in Victoria, we thought some focus on snuggling up and hunkering down this weekend, wouldn”t go amiss.

In light of this we’ve found a Canadian music website packed full of interesting stuff for you to read and relax with, and we’ve come up with an easy recipe for a great wintery soup too.

Chop up the ingredients before clicking through the links and it can bubble away whilst you’re reading. By the time you’re done, you’ll have had food for thought, the house will smell great and there’ll be something warming and delicious to eat whilst you indulge yourself in some dedicated downtime.

So here’s the recipe:

  • 600 grams butternut squash or pumpkin (prepared weight)
  • 1 handful fresh coriander to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 large carrots (roughly chopped, always music to these ears)
  • 1 large potato (roughly chopped too)
  • 500 ml of stock (veg or chicken)
  • salt (to season)
  • pepper (to season)
  • 150 ml cream (up to you how much)

Method: Chop everything up and pop it in a pot – don’t add the fresh herbs yet – then leave it to simmer and soften up whilst you’re reading, and then whizz it up: bingo! Add the cream if you’re having some, top it off with the herbs and consume with crusty bread after a long walk; after an indulgent kip on the sofa. or, if you’re off to work, have it when you come home. It’ll taste even better. The world’s your oyster, well, your butternut.

And here’s the brain food bit.

These articles were both published on the website of CBC, based in Vancouver, Canada, together with several others compiled for their focus on music as part of Science week. The first one ‘How Music Works: How does the Human Voice Work?’ is not only a fascinating read about the dynamics of something most of us take for granted, it’s got a video close up of some singers’ vocal cords working and everything!

The second short article is ‘How Music Works: why do you sound better when you’re singing in the shower?’ which exposes the science behind the reason we really all do sound more divine when we sing in the shower.

You’ll see a whole heap of other interesting posts to read, too, such as why some people get the chills when they listen to music. And there are also links to music from all sorts of genres too, so you’ll be able to while away as much time as time allows…just don’t let that ole soup stick! We’ll link these articles on the CMVic website too, as they’re great for future reference.

Keep warm, bon appetite and a happy weekend from the team at CMVic. (let us know how your soup turns out…)