Vocal Hygiene Habits and Vocal Handicap Among Conservatory Students of Classical Singing

Achey, Meredith A.; He, Mike Zhongyu; Akst, Lee M.

Objectives: This study sought to assess classical singing students' compliance with vocal hygiene practices identified in the literature and to explore the relationship between self-reported vocal hygiene practice and self-reported singing voice handicap in this population. The primary hypothesis was that increased attention to commonly recommended vocal hygiene practices would correlate with reduced singing voice handicap.

Study Design: This is a cross-sectional, survey-based study.

Methods: An anonymous survey assessing demographics, attention to 11 common vocal hygiene recommendations in both performance and nonperformance periods, and the Singing Voice Handicap Index 10 (SVHI-10) was distributed to classical singing teachers to be administered to their students at two major schools of music.

Results: Of the 215 surveys distributed, 108 were returned (50.2%), of which 4 were incomplete and discarded from analysis. Conservatory students of classical singing reported a moderate degree of vocal handicap (mean SVHI-10, 12; range, 0–29). Singers reported considering all 11 vocal hygiene factors more frequently when preparing for performances than when not preparing for performances. Of these, significant correlations with increased handicap were identified for consideration of stress reduction in nonperformance ( P = 0.01) and performance periods ( P = 0.02) and with decreased handicap for consideration of singing voice use in performance periods alone ( P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Conservatory students of classical singing report more assiduous attention to vocal hygiene practices when preparing for performances and report moderate degrees of vocal handicap overall. These students may have elevated risk for dysphonia and voice disorders which is not effectively addressed through common vocal hygiene recommendations alone.

Keywords: vocal hygiene, vocal handicap, voice handicap, singer, dysphonia


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June 23, 2023