In partnership with the UNM Neuro Choir, The Corrales Neuro Choir is a singing group for those who possess a brain injury or neurological change due to a stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders; along with their caregivers. Practice started Aug. 16 and rehearsals will continue every other Tuesday from 10am to 11:15am at the Corrales Senior Center. 

Created by Nicole Gallegos, MS, CCC-SLP, who operates Corrales Voice & Speech Therapy, the choir’s goal is to “positively impact the citizens of Corrales and surrounding areas by providing increased life participation and the opportunity to be a part of a community of others with similar challenges and life experiences,” according to their website. 

Gallegos explained that the choir could be socially beneficial to those with neurological disorders. “The primary benefit of this group is for community. It can be really isolating when someone is experiencing a brain injury, neurodegenerative disease or stroke,” she said. Gallegos went on to explain that singing itself can help neurological disorders. “Outside of the community aspect, singing has a lot of benefits for neurological conditions. It can help with breathing and it can help with language.”

According to UNM’s Center for Brain Recovery and Repair, those who survive a stroke may develop Aphasia, also called Dysphasia. A document published by the center states, “Many survivors of stroke have a speech and language disorder that can negatively impact quality of life, social participation and return to work. This speech and language disorder is called ‘aphasia’ and can impact the ability to speak, understand, read and/or write.” 

Gallegos co-created the UNM Neuro Choir in 2016 and since she opened her own practice in June 2022, Gallegos has created a separate choir for the village. In the past, the UNM Neuro Choir has performed for audiences. “This year, we are looking at doing one performance in December,” Gallegos said. 

Recently, Gallegos received a grant from Intel to aid the choir. “The grant is helping to provide equipment for us. Like music stands, our sheet music and all of the different supplies that we need for the members of our group.” 

According to the University of Queensland, “The treatment of non-fluent aphasia (being unable to speak fluently) in stroke victims through singing has yielded similar results to that of stuttering, showing consistent improvement in word production while singing.” These results are credited to cerebral dominance or “the unilateral control of certain functions in the brain.” 

Gallegos explained that the choir can be socially beneficial to those with neurological disorders. “The primary benefit of this group is for community. It can be really isolating when someone is experiencing a brain injury, neurodegenerative disease or stroke,” she said. Gallegos went on to explain that singing itself can help neurological disorders. “Outside of the community aspect, singing has a lot of benefits for neurological conditions. It can help with breathing and it can help with language as well.

Gallegos herself has worked in music in the past. “My background is as a vocal coach and performer. I have sung with many different groups and bands in New Mexico and then I have traveled as a vocal coach with larger acts as well.” One of the “larger acts” Gallegos has worked with includes the Grammy award-winning Zac Brown Band. 

For more information: UNM Neuro Choir

Josiah Ward

Josiah Ward is an intern with The Corrales Comment.

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