Richard Lewellen, MT-BC, Leading Groundbreaking Parkinson’s Disease Research at Shenandoah University

Stephens City, Va., May 27, 2015 — New Leaf Music Therapy, a full-service practice serving the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Piedmont region of Virginia, Northern Virginia, and West Virginia, has announced that Richard Lewellen, MT-BC, and his groundbreaking work on the effects of music therapy on Parkinson’s Disease clients will be featured at the 44th Voice Symposium in Philadelphia on May 31, 2015.

Richard Lewellen, MT-BC

Richard Lewellen, MT-BC

Lewellen’s presentation, “Group-Singing Music Therapy Protocol as an Adjunct Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease,” is the result of his master’s degree research at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University, under the advisement of Drs. David Meyer and Anthony Meadows of Shenandoah Conservatory, and Dr. Eva van Leer of the University of Georgia. The Symposium is jointly provided by The Voice Foundation and the American College of Surgeons in collaboration with Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University, The American Institute for Voice and Ear Research, and the Academy of Vocal Arts.

More than one million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.  Speech-motor problems in Parkinson’s patients occur when dopaminergic neurons die or become impaired.  Primary symptoms include resting tremor, slowness, rigidity, postural instability, reduced speech intelligibility, depression, fear and anxiety, all to the detriment of quality of life.

“Speech intelligibility problems reduce effective communication and can contribute to social withdrawal, a growing sense of isolation, and strain in maintaining relationships, which is why this research is important for the quality of life for those who are affected by Parkinson’s Disease,” Lewellen notes. “Working closely with the Parkinson’s Support Group of Winchester, Va., we developed a choir and focused on a music therapy protocol as a means to improve vocal production, breath support, and overall voice quality. Participants and their caregivers enjoyed the process, and it is a feather in the cap of the Shenandoah University and Winchester communities to conduct this type of research to the benefit of local residents.”

Lewellen’s findings will likely be presented formally in the Journal of Voice at the conclusion of his thesis. Lewellen is credentialed by the Certification Board for Music Therapist, is a member of the American Music Therapy Association, and is completing his master’s degree at Shenandoah University. He also is the founder and director of New Leaf Music Therapy, a practice serving both youth and adult populations throughout the region.

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About New Leaf Music Therapy

New Leaf Music Therapy is a licensed and insured practice that serves a variety of client populations, including those who need childhood developmental disability and IEP support services, mental health and stress management, rehabilitative therapy including pain management, and health and wellness services. Its founder and director, Richard Lewellen, MT-BC, is recognized for his groundbreaking music therapy work with Parkinson’s Disease patients. For more information about music therapy as a field or about New Leaf Music Therapy, please visit

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