Born of Need. Fueled by Passion.

Founded in 2006 by Dr. Ruthanna Metzgar, SongShine began when The Traub Parkinson’s Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA asked her to create a music class for Parkinson’s patients. Dr. Metzgar, with forty years as a university voice teacher and ten years of collaboration with Otolaryngologists and Speech Therapists, felt called to serve. She requested classes be open for all with neurological disorders and aging voices. After a successful pilot study, she directed the program for five years at Eisenhower. In 2011 SongShine became a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt public charity. In 2011 she was joined by Juilliard-trained professional actor, Peter Harris. Both are passionate about their individual disciplines, which have been combined to create a powerful arts based program bringing voices to life.

The Heartbeat of the Human Experience

Sent to us by neurologists, speech therapists, and support group members who sing our praises, each participant means the world to us. The ability to regain your voice and vocabulary, and experience the pure joy of interacting with like-minded people, is a lifeline. When people feel connected to something greater, it affords a newfound sense of wellbeing. Building confidence and community, forging a better quality of life, is part of the SongShine – and the human – experience.

Read what others have to say -- or take a moment to view a video of stroke survivor Dr. Pam Meoli or this video of actress Shirley Claire to see for yourself the impact SongShine has made on the lives of so many.

"We are forever grateful for this program."
Cherie Young, caregiver to Steve Young
Cathedral City, California
Click here to view a video testimonial by Cherie and Steve, including an inspiring audio clip of Steve 'before and after' his participation in the SongShine program. ]

Brief interviews with some of the SongShine Singers and Players:
Click Here to experience the Magic of SongShine.

"I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in October 2005, although like most Parkinson’s patients I had symptoms for some years prior. One of the first symptoms was a weakening voice. People were always asking me to repeat what I had said. Four years ago I joined Ruthanna Metzgar’s SongShine group at Eisenhower Medical Center as my Neurologist suggested it might help my voice. Although I love music, I can’t sing or even read music but they let me join. I used to say that they let me stay because I made all the other singers’ sound so good. Somehow singing seems to make my voice stronger and my progress is in direct proportion to my attendance and practice. I won’t ever make it to American Idol, but people notice my speech has improved. Thank you, SongShine."
Peter Baigent

"It is music, music makes you happy!"
Gertrude Goodman

"Music and more specifically singing has always been my passion, from singing in church at an early age to singing with a swing band in high school. I even paid my way through college and graduate school doing soloist work. After that, although I always tried to be engaged in singing one way or another, the next 35 years were totally devoted to mental health work as a clinical psychologist.

"It was always in the back of my head that when I retire I will have nothing to interfere with my singing. But the closer I got to retirement age, the more I began to notice the frightening early symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the expressionless face, the tremors, the rigidity, and the lack of enunciation in speech. I was embarrassed and ashamed so I occupied myself with hobbies that did not require public appearances. I had decided I would never sing again.

"This went on for five years at which point I heard about this program called SongShine that helps people who have had strokes or Parkinson's disease get their voices back through various vocal exercises. Although I was doubtful, I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. The minute I walked into the room at my first meeting I knew I had found something special. There was an atmosphere generated by the program director and teacher, Ruthanna Metzger, and all the other participants, that made me feel I had come home.

"That was a year ago. SongShine and its director Ruthanna Metzgar are truly miracle workers. Now I am living my dream. I can be heard at open mike nights and karaoke venues all over town. I plan now to start singing at senior centers and assisted living developments. But perhaps most exciting of all, I'm in the process of preparing a CD for publication. This is something I have wanted to do all my life, and now at the age of 70 (oops, did I say 70?) It might actually happen.

"Who can say how much longer I will be able to sing, but thanks to SongShine and the wonderful people there I plan to keep singing as long as it's physically possible and people want to hear me."
Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., Singer

“Congratulations! As always, the SongShine concert was a huge hit--an especially wonderful hit! Also loved the presentation in the lobby with the history of SongShine and articles supporting the therapeutic value of music.”
Jeannette Debonne, Artist, Musician, Former Director of Arts in Healthcare, Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage, CA

"The experience of working with you [SongShine] this year has been a wonderful education for me.  I believe singing and all the other related exercises we worked on helped me learn to use my voice more effectively than I ever did before.  I plan to use the discs all summer in order not to lose the use of breath to back my voice.  That has made a tremendous difference for me.  In addition, your gentle guidance in singing, performing, and all the many other techniques we learned were inspiring and so much fun.  Your leadership has made an enormous difference in the lives of the people you have touched.  I don't know how to adequately express my thanks to you.

I look forward to our first session next November 5th!  It is on my calendar!!!"

Frances Stremmel, Coachella Valley SongShine, Palm Desert, CA



"I am doing well now that I fill my core prior to singing.  I am really enjoying the Monday (SongShine) classes.  I can now speak on the phone and be understood.  O--h K--k!"

Kenneth Luhrs, Coachella Valley SongShine, Palm Desert, CA

“I am eighty-one years young and have spent most of my life working in the theater as an actor, singer, and dancer. For the past six years I have done very little and with the onset of Parkinson’s disease my voice has suffered greatly. By attending SongShine, through the aid of Ruthanna, my voice has gained clarity and volume. Not only is the class beneficial for my voice, she is food for my soul.”

Geoffrey Webb

“I have been a member from the beginning of SongShine in 2006. I have had several strokes and lung cancer. The strokes had minimal effect on my speech but the lung cancer caused breathing difficulties. SongShine has helped this latter problem considerably. I started the program with my cousin, Joyce, who had Parkinson’s. Her voice had been reduced to a whisper. SongShine classes provided vocalise and sing-a-long CDs for people to use on a continuing basis, (even over the summer when our class does not meet). Joyce’s voice became stronger and her singing voice retained much of its quality. She was even able to sing a solo in a benefit concert as a result of the improvement that Dr. Metzgar’s classes provided. She did this after she had already gone into a hospice program. And, she continued to sing up to three days before she walked the wind last summer. This would not have been possible without SongShine.”

Dr. Grace Powell


“After attending SongShine, this aging voice has come back to life. Ruthanna and the SongShine method has brought out a hidden voice I never knew I had.”

Donald Beck

“We are having a blast in SongShine.”
Chaplain Paul Barnes, Certified SongShine Instructor, Turlock, CA

“Congratulations on a wonderful concert!!! I am so impressed with the singing and enthusiasm of the group and the soloists were fabulous!! You’ve done a wonderful job with vocalizing and you have to know that I could understand every word of the lyrics.”

Donna Boatman, Community Outreach, Coordinator, Eisenhower Luci Curci Cancer Center, Rancho Mirage, CA

“I am happy to say that my voice has improved.  So, I'm anxious to attend the next series of sessions.  I understand now why people return year after year.”

Pauline Fish, Palm Desert, CA

"Former fashion model, great grandmother of eleven, grandmother of eight, mother of two beautiful girls and wife of a very proud husband. Marion survived a stroke just three years ago and has improved considerably. She is on the way to overcoming her inability to speak by practice, hard work and daily professional therapy. One of her greatest pleasures is to be able to sing every Monday with fellow vocalists, her friends in the SongShine class."

Marion Praver (written for Marion by her faithful husband, Stan.)

 “I believe that whatever talent we posses we must give it back. After the loss of my darling mother at age 103 in May of 2012 and my husband in January 2013 SongShine saved me. My old voice is being restored and what a joy it is to express my heart and love for God in song. I’m a SongShiner and proud of it. Thank you Ruthanna and Peter!”

Doreen Edwards

"Parkinson’s -  what a scary word, with all the symptoms that accompany it, it can be so overwhelming that you sometimes forget that there is so much more to you than just being someone with an illness. Being a singer, the thought and pure fear of losing the thing I love to do most was almost more than I could bear. A friend told me about the SongShine Foundation and all the wonderful things that she had heard about the group, so this year I decided to check it out. Wow, is all I can say! Ruthanna and her pure joy and commitment to this project is a beautiful thing to behold, she is a magic gift to all of us, pure and simple; and Peter, who can delve into the meaning of a song and get the feelings out of you that you never knew were hidden down in your soul.

I thank God for giving me this incredible opportunity to participate in such a fabulous group, with such talented, warm and caring people. To our volunteers, to life, to fellowship, to song, L’Chaim!”

Pam Thompson

"I am a retired attorney who was licensed to practice law in the state of Idaho and all federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. I have also been a government liaison for the American Red Cross for eight national disasters, which included working at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2006. The disease severely affected my voice. I began singing with SongShine in 2007 and experienced a dramatic improvement in my voice quality and volume. I am now not afraid to sing with barbershop, church and community choir groups." Ben Cavaness

"For 42 years I was a professional Educator. For twenty five years I was Principal for the Palm Springs Unified School District. After retirement I was the interim Principal for St. Theresa’s Catholic School in Palm Springs. I sang in many church choirs since I was in 8th grade. Singing put joy in my life!!! Then four years ago I noticed a tremor in my right hand. My voice was getting weaker. I have Parkinson’s – no one else in family or relatives had Parkinson’s. It was just random bad luck. Then three years ago I discovered SongShine. I’m not as sad as I used to be. Now I meet every Monday with about 50-55 persons who have similar voice challenges, and with our upbeat directors. Now I’m happier and my voice is coming back – I sing every day – I have many new friends and I car pool with two terrific guys from Sun City. SongShine has changed my life. Michael J. Fox says, “I’m going to outfox Parkinson’s!!!”   So am I!!”

Myron Thielman

SongShine Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit tax exempt public charity