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“Dropping Acid” Blog

On Singers and Singing

VOICE INSTITUTE OF NEW YORK GLOSSARY OF TERMS IN SINGING AND LARYNGOLOGY (Click here for printable version)

Koufman JA, Radomski TA, Joharji GM, Russell GB, Pillsbury DC. Laryngeal biomechanics of the singing voice. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 115:527-537, 1996.

Summary: The purpose of this research was to assess the work of singing related to variables such as gender, age, number of hours of singing per week, vocal training, and singing style by evaluating laryngeal biomechanics. This was done by painstaking analysis of the flexible laryngoscopic examinations of singers who sang their own style (opera, choral, jazz, musical theater, gospel etc.) as well as standard vocal tasks (the last line of the “Star Spangled Banner”).  Muscle tension biomechanical findings were assessed frame-by-frame for all vocal tasks, and the percentage of the frames that showed increased work were expressed as a percentage of the total number of frames for the task (excluding respiration). By analysis, the lowest laryngeal muscle tension scores were seen in trained, professional female singers, and the highest scores in amateur female singers. Men had intermediate muscle tension scores. Of the different styles of singing, rock, gospel and musical theater all had high muscle tension scores. This interesting article is a must read for singers and teachers of singing interested in understanding laryngeal function and biomechanics.   Click to see full article

Koufman JA. Vocal Decompensation: Why Singers and Actors Lose it. www.jamiekoufman.com (2010).

Summary: The author shares her overarching model for (and approach to) vocal collapse in vocalists. Indeed, most patients demonstrate vocal fold weakness and/or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).  Based upon treating thousands of performers over a 35 year period, it is the author’s opinion that most striking-zone pathology (e.g., nodules, polyps, cysts) is the result of glottal closure problems (vocal fold bowing and paresis) and inflammation, rather that simply the result of vocal fold misuse/overuse/abuse. Click to see full article

Silent Reflux: A Scourge for the Voice? Backstage Magazine (2007)

Summary: Overview article on laryngopharyngeal (silent) reflux for the performer. Click to see full article

Vocal Damage from Workplace Din.  Backstage Magazine (2007)

Summary: Voice overuse and abuse may be caused by a “day job” in too noisy an environment, which can lead to vocal problems for the performer. Click to see full article

Amin MR, Koufman JA. Vagal neuropathy after upper respiratory infection: A viral etiology?  Am J Otolaryngol 22:251-256, 2001.

Koufman JA, Rees CJ, Frazier WD, Kilpatrick LA, Wright SC, Halum SL, Postma GN. Unsedated office-based laryngeal laser surgery: Review of 443 cases using three wavelengths. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 137:146-51, 2007.

Koufman JA. Evaluation of Laryngeal Biomechanics by Fiberoptic Laryngoscopy (Rubin Book Chapter)

Smoak BR, Koufman JA. Effects of gum chewing on pharyngeal and esophageal pH. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 110:1117-1119, 2001.