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A Vocal Athlete Needs a Vocal Health Team Series

Part III

This week we continue our series discussing the importance of having a vocal health team for yourself or any other vocal athletes in your life. In this module, we’ll talk about what to expect at your voice evaluation. Remember, if you think you have a voice problem, don’t wait–get help!

The exact format of the voice evaluation will vary a bit from one medical voice care center to another, but there are a number of elements that are universal. 

Once you’ve arrived at the clinic, you’ll be seen by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, as detailed in last week’s newsletter. To review, this team should include a fellowship trained laryngologist, a voice specialized speech-language pathologist and, ideally, a clinical singing voice specialist (speech pathologist with expertise in performance and teaching singing)

The team will take a detailed history about your voice, how you use your voice, and what kinds of voice problems you’re having. It’s critical to discuss details of how you use your voice both for speaking and for singing, how much voice training you’ve had (if any), and the specific changes you’re noticing in your voice, even if they are very subtle. This conversation might happen jointly–with both the physician and speech pathologist at the same time–or might be sequential, seeing one after the other. 

The evaluation will probably include 3 important components:

  1. Videostroboscopy
  2. Acoustic testing
  3. Aerodynamic testing

Videostroboscopy (the long version is videolaryngostroboscopy, the short version is strobe) is a procedure that allows the clinicians to see a magnified image of your vocal folds and, importantly, to simulate slow motion to allow close analysis of vocal fold vibration. The vocal folds vibrate too fast to see with the naked eye (around 100 times per second for males and 200 times per second for females). The machine uses a strobe light that flashes slightly out of synch with the vibration of the vocal folds to create an illusion of slow motion vibration (in the same way that you look like you’re walking in slow motion in a room when a strobe light is flashing).

This is critically important because it allows the clinicians not only to see the structures of the larynx and how well the vocal folds open and close, but also to see how well the vocal folds vibrate, whether there are any gaps when the vocal folds close during vibration, and whether there are any irregularities along the vocal fold edges (like nodules, polyps, cysts, or other structural changes). This enables the team to make an accurate and detailed diagnosis of the voice problem.

Next week, we’ll go into the details of what happens during the stroboscopy examination (spoiler alert–in the end, you get to see your vocal folds in action). .

Let's keep illuminating paths ahead together,
Your SonoVoice Team

Next Week: A Vocal Athlete Needs a Vocal Health Team Part IV

You are a vocal athlete!

Athletes put superhuman demands on the human body. They practice to stay in shape, get better and prepare for the event. No athlete expects to perform at their best without working on their technique, practicing skills, and preparing for the game. 

The same goes for you as a vocal athlete. Practice will help you be prepared for your event: performance. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut! If you want to be at your best as a singer, you’ll need to establish a regular vocal exercise and practice regimen.

In our weekly Vocal Fitness Friday email, SonoVoice's team of experts in science-based voice training  will be sharing information about how the voice works, tips on keeping your voice healthy, and ideas for vocal exercises for peak vocal fitness.