Author Identifier

Mia Simonette

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Jazz Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Dr Daniel Susnjar


Muscular dystrophy is a congenital disorder that results in progressive deterioration of muscle strength and function. The genetic disorder is caused by the absence of dystrophin protein which helps to keep muscle cells together, the absence of this protein causes muscles to become weak and fragile. Despite impairment of motor function and muscle strength, a major issue is the progressive impact on the respiratory muscles. Weak pulmonary function can lead to secondary issues such as atelectasis, decreased lung compliance, repeated infections, ineffective cough and ventilation-perfusion during sleep1. Respiratory failure is said to be the most common cause of death in patients with muscular dystrophy but there is evidence to prove breathing exercises can improve respiratory function in patients2.

Dramatic change in pulmonary function has been proven through the use of correct breathing techniques to develop stronger respiratory muscles and positively impact quality of life in patients with pulmonary conditions3. There have been studies regarding respiratory training in patients with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases but none that involve the use of pitch. Studies have also proven that singing and vocal exercises can strengthen respiratory muscles and overall pulmonary function. Singing also results in the release of endorphins, learning a new skill and the increase in social opportunities, all of which positively impact quality of life4. The use of singing to develop respiratory muscles and pulmonary function has never been investigated in patients with muscular dystrophy. This study will address the knowledge gap by analysing literature and survey questions written for this dissertation. After having personally seen progressive development in pulmonary function and quality of life whilst teaching two singing students over the course of six years and being involved in singing groups working with and supporting people with disability,