Voice Science Summary: Sept 2016

“The Evolution of the Female Broadway Belt Voice: Implications for Teachers and Singers” 

Christianne Roll, Journal of Voice 30, No. 5 (Sep 2016): 639.e1-639.e9.

Four nationally recognized master voice teachers (all in or around NYC) and 17 of their female belt students (either performing or studying in a musical theatre program) were observed in order to determine commonalities in approaches to teaching and practicing high belt in female voices.

All four teachers started lessons with head voice, strengthened head voice, lightened up the chest voice, and took the lighter chest voice up.

Three teachers used closed vowels like [ae] or [e] on high belt exercises. 

Two teachers used speech to help access high belt. The other two did not.

All teachers defined high belt as narrow, based on closed vowels, mixing in some head voice, and using very little vibrato.

All of the students described high belt as mixing. They used physical energy, bright/forward vowels, and closed vowels when in high belt, specifying that the resonance/vowel/space was very different from legit singing.

“Vocal Control: Is It Susceptible to the Negative Effects of Self-Regulatory Depletion?” 

Lisa A. Vinney, Miriam van Mersbergen, Nadine P. Connor, and Lyn S. Turkstr, Journal of Voice 30, No. 5 (Sep 2016): 638.e21-638.e31.

Self-regulation is defined as “effort, exerted by the self, to modify or control cognitions, emotions, or outward behavior.” It is when we do something in a controlled way as opposed to an automatic way. People attempt to control themselves in many arenas…money, food, exercise, addictions, relationships, social situations, new singing techniques, better practice habits, etc. Our ability to self-regulate seems to be limited like energy or strength. It has a daily limit. It gets depleted as we use it throughout the day, so our ability to self-regulate weakens as we self-regulate.

The authors of this particular study wanted to see how SRD affected vocal control. One hundred four women performed either (1) a high-SR writing task followed by a high-SR voice task; (2) a low-SR writing task followed by a high-SR voice task; or (3) a high-SR writing task followed by a relaxation intervention and a high-SR voice task. The people who performed a high-SR writing task first, even when it was followed by a relaxation intervention, didn’t perform was well on the following high-SR voice task as the people who started with a low-SR writing task. SRD didn’t seem to affect the subjects’ performance on reading tasks as much as it affected their ability to self-regulate in more spontaneous speaking tasks. 

“Effectiveness of Chewing Technique on the Phonation of Female Speech-Language Pathology Students: A Pilot Study” 

Iris Meerschman, Evelien D’haeseleer, Elien De Cock, Heidi Neyens, Sofie Claeys, and Kristiane Van Lierde, Journal of Voice 30, No. 5 (Sep 2016): 574-578.

A study finds that the vocal facilitating technique, chewing, improves quality and range of the speaking voice. The hypothesis was that chewing movement is inborn and intuitive behavior, and when paired with speech it can help relax the vocal tract. It has been cited in SLP case studies and anecdotal evidence as helpful and effective. Previous studies of techniques that improved vocal quality included chewing technique among others, but this was the first that isolated chewing technique. The technique includes education about ideal jaw movement, including work with a mirror.

“Do Talkativeness and Vocal Loudness Correlate With Laryngeal Pathology? A Study of the Vocal Overdoer/Underdoer Continuum”

Robert W. Bastian and James P. Thomas, Journal of Voice 30, No. 5 (Sep 2016): 557-562.

This study found that when 974 patients who complained of voice issues were asked to rate their talkativeness and loudness, certain voice disorders were likely to be diagnosed based on the answers. They found that talkativeness played a greater role in predicting disease than loudness.

Patients who rated themselves higher in talkativeness (rating of 6 or 7 out of 7) were more susceptible to laryngeal mucosal disorders like nodules, polyps, capillary ectasias, and hemorrhage. In fact, more than 80% of the people in this category had one of these diagnoses. These people’s inner drive to speak often attracts them to careers that require more voice use, which creates an outer obligation to speak, as well.

Patients who rated themselves lower in talkativeness (average rating of 4 out of 7) were more susceptible to muscle deconditioning disorders like vocal fold bowing, atrophy, presbyphonia, and vocal fatigue syndrome. These people seem drawn to careers that don’t require as much talking, which decreases their obligation to speak.

Patients who rated themselves around 5 were considered average. Almost no one rated themselves as a 1 or 2.

“Is Acupuncture Efficacious for Treating Phonotraumatic Vocal Pathologies? A Randomized Control Trial”

Edwin M. L. Yiu, Karen M. K. Chan, Elaine Kwong, Nicole Y. K. Li, Estella P. M. Ma, Fred W. Tse, Zhixiu Lin, Katherine Verdolini Abbott, and Raymond Tsang, Journal of Voice 30, No. 5 (Sep 2016): 611-620.

In this study, acupuncture of voice-related acupoints was shown to improve vocal function and to heal vocal fold lesions.

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