The Traditional/Acoustic Music Project: a study of vocal demands and vocal health

Molly L Erickson
Journal of Voice 2012, 26 (5): 664.e7-23

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: The Traditional/Acoustic Music Project seeks to identify the musical and performance characteristics of traditional/acoustic musicians and determine the vocal demands they face with the goals of (1) providing information and outreach to this important group of singers and (2) providing information to physicians, speech-language pathologists, and singing teachers who will enable them to provide appropriate services.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive cross-sectional study.

METHODS: Data have been collected through administration of a 53-item questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered to artists performing at local venues in Knoxville, Tennessee and also to musicians attending the 2008 Folk Alliance Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.

RESULTS: Approximately 41% of the respondents have had no vocal training, whereas approximately 34% of the respondents have had some form of formal vocal training (private lessons or group instruction). About 41% of the participants had experienced a tired voice, whereas about 30% of the participants had experienced either a loss of the top range of the voice or a total loss of voice at least once in their careers. Approximately 31% of the respondents had no health insurance. Approximately 69% of the respondents reported that they get their information about healthy singing practices solely from fellow musicians or that they do not get any information at all.

CONCLUSION: Traditional/acoustic musicians are a poorly studied population at risk for the development of voice disorders. Continued research is necessary with the goal of a large sample that can be analyzed for associations, identification of subpopulations, and formulation of specific hypotheses that lend themselves to experimental research. Appropriate models of information and service delivery tailored for the singer-instrumentalist are needed.

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