About the Tremble Clefs

The Tremble Clefs is a chorus for people who have Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. It is part of the Charlotte and Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support Program at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Boston.  Spouses, aides, adult children, siblings, friends or anyone else who wants to join our singers are welcome!

My father-in-law had Parkinson’s and was living in Florida. My husband, Dale, saw how difficult it was for his mom to care for his father. He got the idea of starting a Parkinson’s support program, with the goal of helping caregivers get the support they need. We approached Sy Friedland, then CEO of JFCS, and the program was born. Nancy Mazonson was the first director of the program. She first started a support group for caregivers, then a movement/dance program, and then a chorus called the Tremble Clefs. I have been leading the chorus pretty much since its inception.

Every Monday, we meet at the United Parish Church of Auburndale, 64 Hancock Street, in Auburndale, Massachusetts. Click here for directions. The church is handicapped accessible, and we have a warm, comfortable and carpeted room with a grand piano, ably played by our beloved accompanist, Joe Reid.

Why Sing with Us?

Although Parkinson’s disease affects people differently, some people find that their voice and speech are compromised; the volume at which they speak makes it more difficult to be heard both in person and while speaking on the phone. This can be socially isolating.

At the inception of the chorus, we met with speech pathologists at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Movement Disorders Clinic to help us understand the issues of voice production and loudness that are common with Parkinson’s. I have devised vocal warmups based not only on sound general singing technique, including posture, breathing, and other voice production issues; we also take into account the particular challenges that many face in forming words and articulation. Many of these exercises are based on techniques used in the LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Training) techniques that were developed to help those with Parkinson’s.

While we address the technical issues of singing during our weekly rehearsals, the emphasis is getting into the actual music, focusing on melody, harmony, form and dynamics in the songs. Our participants have a wide range of musical abilities (most read no music, and we even have one composer), musical tastes, and age. We do something for everyone! I usually pick a Broadway show to focus on throughout the year, and we also do folk songs, holiday songs, spirituals, and even some Rock n’ Roll! I use PowerPoint slides to display the words on a large screen that everyone can see. It’s a blast!

Even if your spouse or your second grade teacher told you that you can’t carry a tune, you can still sing with us.  In a recent survey of our singers, half indicated that singing was new to them! As a group, we sound great, and we are a community now where people feel comfortable, welcomed, and supported.    Members enjoy socializing with others who face similar challenges; caregivers enjoy meeting other caregivers. Our singers come every Monday like clockwork, rain or shine! And they leave humming! I promise, you will love it!

To learn more, you can go to the contact page on my website, or email Anne Muskopf at amuskopf@jfcsboston.org.  You can also click here to view the JFCS website.