JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

The effect of vocal function exercises on the voices of aging community choral singers

Evelyn Ya Lian Tay, Debra Jean Phyland, Jennifer Oates
Journal of Voice 2012, 26 (5): 672.e19-27
22717496

BACKGROUND: The human voice undergoes changes associated with normal physiological aging after the age of approximately 65 years. These voice changes indicate an overall decline in vocal function, which can have diverse vocal and psychosocial impacts for the aging individual. At present, there is limited evidence as to whether vocal exercise can alleviate negative vocal changes arising from physiological aging, in particular for aging individuals who sing.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a 5-week Vocal Function Exercise (VFE) program on measures of vocal function in a sample of aging community choral singers.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective quasi-experimental design.

METHODS: A group of 22 aging community choral singers (eight men and 14 women) were randomly assigned to either the VFE program or control group. Pretraining and posttraining comparisons were made of auditory-perceptual, aerodynamic, acoustic, and self-evaluation voice measures.

RESULTS: After VFE training, significant improvements in perceived roughness, maximum phonation time, jitter, shimmer, and noise-to-harmonics ratio were found for participants in the VFE group. However, evaluations of perceived breathiness and strain and phonational frequency range did not reveal significant changes. The VFE program was also generally perceived by the participants to have a positive effect on their voices.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this preliminary study suggest that VFE has the potential to mitigate the effects of physiological vocal aging and deserves further research attention as a mode of vocal training for aging individuals, particularly for those who sing.

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