Amateur singers, singing teachers less likely to identify serious vocal problems

April 1, 2008

Even as American Idol reminds us of the best (and worst) that singing has to offer, a new study cautions that amateur singers and singing instructors are less sensitive than their professional peers to the subtle changes to their voices that could have a serious negative impact on their vocal health.

The new research, published in the April 2008 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, underscores the importance World Voice Day, celebrated April 16, 2008, which calls attention to the power and significance of one’s voice.

Researchers administered the Singing Voice Handicap Index (SVHI) to 171 singers whose singing style ran the spectrum of musical tastes, including country, rock, pop, and gospel.

The SVHI is a tool used for assessing voice handicaps that result from singing problems and is used to identify predictors of patient-perceived handicaps. The type of diagnosis and length of time patients had voice symptoms also influenced the level of the singing voice handicap.

The authors discovered that singers older than 50 scored higher (worse) on the SVHI than their younger peers; amateurs scored worse than professionals, as did singing teachers. Finally, those identifying themselves as gospel singers had worse scores than non-gospel singers.

The authors believe that knowing the factors associated with more serious voice handicaps allows specific singing groups to be targeted for intervention (through vocal health and prevention programs). Furthermore, a comparison of different treatments (both surgical and non-surgical) is needed to maximize the management and outcomes of singing patients.

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

Explore further: In tune or out of tune – people with no formal musical training versus professional musicians

Related Stories

A sing-song way to a cure for speech disorder

October 4, 2010

Hindustani singing, a North Indian traditional style of singing, and classical singing, such as the music of Puccini, Mozart and Wagner, vary greatly in technique and sound. Now, speech-language pathology researchers at the ...

Probing Question: Can anyone be taught how to sing?

July 26, 2012

Think back to the last birthday party you attended. When the candles were lit, did you join everyone else in belting out the "Happy Birthday" song -- or were you too self-conscious to do more than mouth the words? Our everyday ...

Singing During Pregnancy May Be Harder Due To Hormones

October 7, 2009

The question of how hormones affect a woman's voice is relevant to professional singers because hormonal fluctuations may place them at risk of injury. Knowing when the risks are greatest would help singers avoid performing ...

New material could offer hope to those with no voice

July 14, 2011

In 1997, the actress and singer Julie Andrews lost her singing voice following surgery to remove noncancerous lesions from her vocal cords. She came to Steven Zeitels, a professor of laryngeal surgery at Harvard Medical School, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 01, 2008
Whoa! As a speech pathologist specializing in professional voice who is familiar with the SVHI, I'm afraid THIS ARTICLE HAS THE FACTS COMPLETELY BACKWARDS. A score on the SVHI says nothing about the actual level of singing voice impairment, but rather the person's perception of impairment. People scoring higher on the SVHI are MORE likely to identify that they have a singing voice impairment than people who score lower on the SVHI.
Therefore, if amateur singers, older singers, and gospel singers scored higher on the SVHI than professional singers, voice teachers, and younger people, this would be better interpreted to signify that amateur singers, older singers, and gospel singers are MORE LIKELY to have a voice problem that is self-perceived to be affecting their singing function than professional singers, singing teachers, or younger people. This makes a lot more sense, if you really think about it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.