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Amateur Singers, Teachers Seldom Hear Sounds of Trouble

Study finds pros more likely to take measures improving vocal health

WEDNESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Trying to be the next American Idol could harm your vocal health.

Amateur singers and singing instructors are less sensitive than their professional peers to the subtle changes in their voices that could indicate serious voice issues, according to new research published in the April issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. In addition, April 16 celebrates World Voice Day, which encourages all people to assess their vocal health and take action to maintain good voice habits.

Knowing the factors associated with "voice handicaps" allows singers to take measures to protect or improve their vocal health, the authors said.

Duke University 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 tool assesses voice handicaps resulting from singing problems and can identify predictors of patient-perceived handicaps.

Singers older than 50 scored worse on the SVHI than their younger peers; amateurs scored worse than professionals, as did singing teachers, according to the findings. Finally, those identifying themselves as gospel singers had worse scores than non-gospel singers.

More information

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about taking care of your voice.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, news release, April 1, 2008

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