The singer's breath: implications for treatment of persons with emphysema

J Music Ther. Spring 2005;42(1):20-48. doi: 10.1093/jmt/42.1.20.


This study investigated the effects of group singing instruction on the physical health and general wellness of senior citizens with emphysema. Subjects (n = 7) participated in 6 weeks of group vocal instruction, which emphasized breath management techniques. Dependent measures reflected physical health, functional outcomes, and quality of life. No significant differences were found on measures of physical health (FEV1, inspiratory threshold, distance walked, and The DUKE physical health subscale). Measures of functional outcomes each showed a significant change across time. Results of the ANOVAs for breath management (extent of counting) and breath support (intensity of speech) were significant (p < .038 & p < .000 respectively). Descriptive analyses showed a clear and dramatic shift in breathing mode from clavicular to diaphragmatic breathing that was maintained 2 weeks after the treatment period. Quality of life measures (subjective scales and The Duke Health Profile) yielded mixed results. Findings of this study suggest that vocal instruction, inclusive of breathing exercises, may help to improve the quality of life for senior citizens with emphysema. Subjects in this study responded positively to the instruction and further investigation of the treatment method is warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / prevention & control
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / therapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vocal Cords
  • Voice Training*