Research aware of their own voice use and the

Research
has demonstrated that it is important for professional voice users, especially
singers and teachers, to receive some type of training about the use of the
voice. According to Timmermans’ article, Analysis
and evaluation of a voice-training program in future professional voice users,
everyday abusive habits were commonly eliminated by the education of vocal
hygiene/heath (Timmerman). The everyday vocal demands placed on university
students are high; they sing in private voice lessons, university ensembles,
theater rehearsals, also individual practice and coaching session. In addition
to these required activities, many students participate in extracurricular
singing activities such as student lead ensembles and church choirs. Heavy
voice uses while speaking during work or social activities can also contribute
to vocal fatigue or even lead to vocal injury.

            Many students are not aware of their
own voice use and the need for periods of vocal rest and recovery. A study of
students’ voice use measuring phonation, frequency and intensity of the voice
using a vocal dosimeter, (a device used
to collect data on how you use your voice every day). The study found that
the most vocally demanding times for students were often outside of their
required singing activities. Students’ estimates of their vocal use in their
various activities throughout the day were much lower than the actual results
(Gaskill). A similar study of graduate performance students’ voice uses and
efficiency was evaluated during an opera rehearsal week. The study found that
the opera rehearsals played a relatively minor role in the vocal load and doses
of the students. The study showed that the highest levels of vocal demand were recorded
outside of the rehearsal, during personal singing practice and teaching. It is
suggested that training of voice care and uses could be helpful to voice
students and future voice teachers (Schloneger).

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            It is important for singers to
recognize that their singing voice and their speaking voice utilize the same instrument
and therefore important for students to monitor their speech as well as their singing.

The lack of awareness between singing and speaking technique is one of the
common factors of future vocal/voice problems (Lundy). An article discussing
vocal hygiene programs designed by voice therapist, made recommendations to
assist therapy clients in vocal health and to prevent abuse/misuse. Suggestions
for good vocal health begins with the elimination of vocal abuse and misuse.

Try to avoid different activities, abusive habits such as excessive throat
clearing, coughing, and hard sneezing. One should also be cautious of alcohol usage,
elective medications, smoking and second-hand smoke, for these can lead to
vocal health problems. However, precautions can take place such as, properly warming
up the voice, maintaining correct pitch and placement in your speaking voice
and drinking more than 12 ounces of water daily are good places to begin (Barksdale).

            The intensity of behaviors such as
coughing, throat clearing, and sneezing can cause a forceful meeting of the
vocal cords which over time can increase the chance of developing vocal
problems. Coughing and throat clearing require tight adduction of the vocal
folds and can quickly become everyday habits. Voice therapists often suggest
techniques such as, “sniff then swallow”, the “silent cough”, or simply
drinking water to replace these harmful habits (Barksdale). Sneezing at an excessive
volume causes similar problems as the vocal folds are forced to adduct; however,
this habit can be much more difficult to alter.

            Speaking habits are especially
important because most of speak much more than we sing. Singers are generally
aware of their singing and speaking techniques but speaking at an incorrect volume
or with poor tonal placement can be damaging (Lundy). In addition, speaking
with a breathy tone prevents the glottis from closing properly during
phonation. Thus, speaking softly, often focused in the throat, is not a good
way to “save” the voice. Breathy and harsh glottal attacks can also damage the
voice. Correcting speaking habits is best done with the help of a professional voice
therapist. It is also important for singers to remember that if one voice
(speaking) is fatigued so is their other voice (singing).

            Most people are aware when they are
yelling or shouting for sporting events or concerts that it may be damaging to
their voice. However, there are many other events that cause someone to speak
louder than normal and potentially strain their voice. Some of these include
talking over crowds or loud music, or talking over moving transportation. Any
talking done at a loud volume can be potentially damaging to the voice. It is important
that singers and teachers learn to be aware of their voice use while singing
and talking so that they may eliminate or modify potentially abusive vocal
behaviors (David). Silent vocal cord movement, such as silently “talking
through text or as a voice teacher empathetically going through exercises with
the student, can also cause vocal fatigue. Findings suggest that mental
stimulation of action activates the same automatic nervous responses that are
required in the actual movement (Williamson). These movements in themselves are
not harmful but singers and teachers should be aware that these actions are not
resting the voice and need to be attentive for possible vocal and mental
fatigue, in this case.

            Vocal rest is often encouraged
before and after vocally demanding events. A study assessing the voices of
singers before, immediately after, and the day after an opera performance found
that vocal rest the day after a performance showed a quicker recovery.