Singers' phonation threshold pressure and ratings of self-perceived effort on vocal tasks

Monica McHenry, Joseph Evans, Eric Powitzky
Journal of Voice 2013, 27 (3): 295-8

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: This study was designed to determine if singers' self-ratings of vocal effort could predict phonation threshold pressure (PTP). It was hypothesized that effort ratings on the more complex task of singing "Happy Birthday" would best predict PTP.

STUDY DESIGN: A multiple regression analysis was performed with PTP as the predicted variable and self-ratings on four phonatory tasks as the predictor variables.

METHODS: Participants were 48 undergraduate and graduate students majoring in vocal performance. They produced /pi/ syllable trains as softly as possible for the measurement of PTP. They then rated their self-perceived vocal effort while softly producing the following: (1) sustained "ah" (comfortable, midrange pitch); (2) "ah" glide (chest to head voice); (3) Staccato "ah" in head voice (not falsetto); and (4) Happy Birthday in head voice (not falsetto).

RESULTS: No ratings of vocal effort predicted PTP. The lack of correlation between PTP and ratings of Happy Birthday remained when separately evaluating graduate versus undergraduate students or males versus females. Informal evaluation of repeated ratings over time suggested the potential for effective self-monitoring.

CONCLUSIONS: Students' ratings of self-perceived vocal effort were poor predictors of PTP. This may be because of the use of "effortless" imagery during singing instruction or consistent positive feedback regarding vocal performance. It is possible that self-rating could become an effective tool to predict vocal health if task elicitation instructions were more precise, and the student and voice teacher worked collaboratively to improve self-evaluation.


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