Theses Doctoral

Teacher Views on Teacher Voice: Elementary Music Teacher Perceptions of Voice Use in the Workplace

Stephenson, Kimberly Jean

Teachers represent a large portion of professional voice users in the United States and the development of poor vocal health has related to their work. Elementary music educators are expected to use their voices in both speech and song and are vocally active for much of their workday. This study investigates elementary music teachers’ conceptualization of their voices, what personal and professional value teachers place upon their voices, and how vocal health may affect, support, or detract from their careers.
In this multiple case study conducted with three participants, a questionnaire addressed background demographics for the teacher and information regarding the music program. An interview collected more in depth data on thoughts and perceptions of voice use. Teachers completed the Voice Handicap Index and Singing Voice Handicap Index and each teacher was observed for one full workday.
Vocal professionalism and caring for the voice’s professional use vary in definition and importance from teacher to teacher. Participants seem more conscious of their physical health than other aspects of professional vocal demand. Participants described themselves as vocal professionals while also engaging in behaviors which did not consistently support sustainable vocal health or hygiene. While each teacher viewed their voice as a professional tool, none had received training in the care of their voices, in what to do if their voice was injured, or in how to use their voices safely while teaching. Each teacher reported mild to no voice handicap on both the Voice Handicap Index and the Singing Voice Handicap Index. This may reflect some degree of label avoidance.
Teachers at the elementary level of music come from diverse backgrounds and teach in widely varying circumstances. Teachers may hold some information on vocal health but may not have been trained in how to use the voice while teaching and may develop habitual practices which are not conducive to a career of healthy vocal production. Increased attention is indicated for the populations who professionally use their voices in both speech and song.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Goffi-Fynn, Jeanne Corinne
Abeles, Harold F.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2018