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Recent research in singing.

The following list of recent research in singing is the second in a series of articles from the Journal of Voice, a peer-reviewed publication that is considered to be the world's premiere source for voice medicine and research. It is edited by Journal of Singing Associate Editor Robert T. Sataloff. This listing is by no means comprehensive and reflects only a small fraction of the available and applicable articles.

If you have published recent research in singing, voice pedagogy, voice science, vocal repertoire, pedagogic methodology, or other topics of interest to the membership of NATS, please send citations and abstracts to Donald Simonson at for review and possible inclusion in future columns.

Echternach, Matthias, Louisa Traser, Michael Markl, and Bernhard Richter. "Vocal Tract Configurations in Male Alto Register Functions." Journal of Voice 25, no. 6 (November 2011): 670-677.

This study investigates changes in vocal tract configurations during register transitions in the male countertenor voice. Significant vocal tract modifications were noted in transitions between modal register to stage falsetto, particularly increased lip opening, jaw retraction, tongue elevation and backing, pharynx narrowing, uvula elevation, and lowering and tilting of the larynx. These physical changes most certainly impact acoustic characteristics of the radiated spectrum of professional male alto singers.

Erickson-Levendoski, Elizabeth, and Mahalakshmi Sivasankar. "Investigating the Effects of Caffeine on Phonation." Journal of Voice 25, no. 5 (September 2011): e215-e219.

Singers are regularly instructed to avoid ingesting any and all agents that might cause vocal fold dehydration. Caffeine is cited as one of the more significant agents in causing vocal fold dehydration. This study measured phonation threshold pressure (PTP) and perceived phonatory effort (PPE) in a double blind two-session study. Sixteen healthy adults consumed either caffeine (480 mg) or sham (24mg) beverages. Following the controlled beverage consumption, data was collected before and after vocal loading challenges (different for vocally trained or untrained subjects). The findings suggest that a high dose of caffeine does not adversely affect PTP or PPE measures during the timeline examined (a total of five hours beginning with the consumption of the first beverage--within the elimination half-life of caffeine). As a preliminary study this work lays the foundation for further (larger sample sized) studies to quantify the specifics of caffeine induced dehydration and voice.

Morrow, Sharon L., and Nadine P. Connor. "Voice Amplification as a Means of Reducing Vocal Load for Elementary Music Teachers." Journal of Voice 25, no. 4 (July 2011): 441-446.

Music teachers as a group are over four times more likely than classroom teachers and over eight times more likely than the general public to develop voice related problems. Music teachers tend to have significantly higher phonation time, fundamental frequency, and vocal intensity than their general classroom counterparts. By using inexpensive vocal amplification those parameters were substantially reduced. The data suggested that amplification was an effective intervention to decrease the vocal load experienced by elementary music teachers.

Patel, Rita R., Diane M. Bless, and Susan L. Thibeault. "Boot Camp: A Novel Intensive Approach to Voice Therapy." Journal of Voice 25, no. 5 (September 2011): 562-569.

Traditional voice therapy typically involves one or two 40-45 minute sessions per week lasting a total of eight weeks with a single clinician. This study suggests an intensive short-term approach for 1-4 successive days with an average of five hours per day with five clinicians as an alternative. High-intensity, short-term voice therapy may better serve subjects with recalcitrant dysphonia, insofar as employing rigorous practice, task overload, multiple clinicians, and a better transfer of learned skills may result.

Staes, Filip F., Lieve Jansen, Ann Vilette, Yannick Coveliers, Kim Daniels, and Wivine Decoster. "Physical Therapy as a Means to Optimize Posture and Voice Parameters in Student Classical Singers: A Case Report." Journal of Voice 25, no. 3 (May 2011): e91-e101.

This case study is the first step in attempting to document physical therapy approaches in classical singers with the goal to improve postural alignment and positively affect muscle activity, especially those muscles involved in the process of support function. The study showed that in a highly motivated student, postural alignment could be changed with an individualized training program. Some voice related parameters were also optimized, particularly those involved in breathing.

Van Houtte, Evelyne, Sofie Claeys, Floris Wuyts, and Kristiane Van Lierde. "The Impact of Voice Disorders Among Teachers: Vocal Complaints, Treatment-Seeking Behavior, Knowledge of Vocal Care, and Voice-Related Absenteeism." Journal of Voice 25, no. 5 (September 2011): 570-575.

Nine hundred ninety-four teachers, and a control group of 290 individuals whose jobs did not involve extensive voice use, completed a survey about knowledge of voice care, voice complaints, treatment-seeking behavior, and voice related absenteeism. Teachers exhibited significantly more voice problems than the control group, with women reporting significantly higher levels of incidence than men. This study argues for the implementation of voice use/care/hygiene prevention programs in the teacher training curricula. More than half of the teachers had to deal with a voice disorder during their career. Twenty-five percent of those studied sought out medical help, and 20% were absent from work for one or more days because of voice problems. Implementation of prevention programs could alleviate a significant financial impact caused by teacher absenteeism because of voice-related problems.

Zimmer-Nowicka, Joanna, and Henryka Januszewska-Stanczyk. "Incidence and Predisposing Factors of Common Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Vocal Students During Their Professional Training." Journal of Voice 25, no. 4 (July 2011): 505-510.

Infections of the upper respiratory tract (URTI) are among the major causes of dysphonia in singers. Ninetyfour students of singing, at all levels in a five year, ten semester course of music study were investigated. The mean incidence of URTIs in the study was about 2.5 per student per year. Compared with studies of the general population, singers tend to have an appreciably higher rate of URTI incidence. The authors found a significant decrease in the incidence of URTIs as the amount of training increased, especially nearer the end of vocal studies. The authors attribute the decrease of incidence to the effects of increased awareness of the need to adhere to generally accepted rules of vocal hygiene.
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Author:Simonson, Donald
Publication:Journal of Singing
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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