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Singers vs. Non-Singers
Singer's Health Issues:
The Efficacy of a Wellness Model for Singers
© 1996 Dr. Karen Wicklund
Since most voice pathology has multi-factorial origins, all aspects of a singer's lifestyle must be examined in order to develop an adequate treatment plan. Treatment should also be wellness-oriented, focusing not only on the physical techniques of singing and general health issues, but also on the singer's stress levels, personality, and vocational choices.
Since most voice pathology has multi-factorial origins, all aspects of a singer's lifestyle must be investigated in order to begin a treatment plan. Treatment should also be multi-dimensional or wellness-oriented, focusing not only on the physical techniques of singing and general health issues, but also on the singer's stress levels, personality, and vocational choices.
A comprehensive search of existing studies was performed in each area of Wellness (Physical, Emotional, Social, Occupational, Intellectual and Spiritual), and in Physical Vocal Wellness and Technical Vocal Wellness areas. In addition, original studies on premenstrual syndrome and menstrual dysphonia were performed at Northwestern University, Washington State University and at the National NATS Las Vegas Workshop. Risk factors particular to singers were noted, and a wellness model, or singer's lifestyle appraisal was created as a tool to improve the singer's strategies for wellness.
A 240-question Singer's Wellness Model was created and tested with fifteen voice students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with additional tests performed at Western Michigan University, Southwestern University and Texas Tech University. Findings in the Physical Vocal Wellness and Technical Vocal Wellness areas were only about 30% and 35% in the optimal health range. This demonstrates that singers have formed some relatively unhealthy vocal habits, such as low speaking pitch, throat clearing, improper warm-up/practice methods, and extensive avocational voice use. The physical and technical vocal wellness areas directly influence performance quality by affecting levels of dysphonia, stamina, and technical abilities.
Also, a sample of 40 college-aged non-singers was tested in the general health areas and compared with 35 college-aged singers. Results showed that singers scored higher in nutrition, self-care, emotional, mental, social and spiritual areas of health than did non-singers, but non-singers had higher scores in exercise, occupational, and life satisfaction scores. This researcher concluded that most singers need improvements in their exercise regimens and physical and technical vocal habits.
Finally, the Wellness Model has greatest efficacy when interpreted individually by the singer's voice teacher, doctor, health educator, and/or other wellness professional. By utilizing the Wellness Model troublesome behaviors can be identified, and the singer can improve his/her performance and prevent the occurrence of future performance difficulties.
The author/researcher of this Wellness Model is currently building a national database of singer's health information from Singer's Wellness Model results. Singers and voice teachers at the NATS National Convention Poster sessions will be invited to complete the Singer's Wellness Model, and to receive a personal consultation/interpretation of results with the researcher, a singer's wellness educator. This researcher is also available as a health education consultant to university voice departments.
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