American Idol contestants, beware - singers who don't get paid to perform are also less likely to recognize subtle changes in their voices that can indicate serious vocal problems. The results are reported in a new study that attempts to identify specific factors that influence how singers perceive the impact of voice problems on their lives.
The findings, presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation's Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO in Washington, DC, indicate that how a patient experiences a voice problem is a subjective experience. Researchers administered the Singing Voice Handicap Index (SVHI) to 171 singers whose singing style ran the spectrum of musical tastes, including country, rock, pop, and gospel.
The SVHI is a tool for assessing voice handicaps that result from singing voice problems, and is used for identifying predictors of patient-perceived singing voice handicaps. The type of diagnosis and length of time patients had voice symptoms also influenced the level of the singing voice handicap.
The authors discovered that singers older than 50 scored higher (worse) on the SVHI than their younger peers; amateurs scored worse than professionals, while singing teachers also scored worse than professionals. Finally, those identifying themselves as gospel singers had worse scores than non-gospel singers.
The authors believe knowing the factors associated with greater voice handicap allows specific singing groups to be targeted for intervention (through vocal health and prevention programs). Furthermore, a comparison of different treatments (both surgical and non-surgical) is needed to maximize the management and outcomes of singing patients.