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Classical vs. pop singers seeking health care for voice

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Joanna
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Latest issue of the Journal of Voice has interesting new research by my friends Marina Gilman, Edie Hapner, Dr. Al Merati and others, about performers' attitudes to health care, especially in Commercial and Contemporary Music. (CCM is the term used by researchers for non-classical styles).

Interviews with a variety of singers at a conference showed that CCM artists are much less likely to seek medical help for voice problems, compared to other medical problems they face . For classical singers it is the opposite!

The 2 groups of singers showed equal recognition that the voice is an essential tool of their trade & identity, so this isn't about carelessness. Fear of the medical exam, or lack of trust in the care available, are also not the main reasons why CCM singers don't go for help. Money (& lack of insurance coverage) might be.

www.jvoice.org/article/S0892-1997(07)00110-5/abstract

What do you think?

Do you take as good care of your voice as you do the rest of your body?

If not-- why not?

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I think that CCM artists are more laid back about their vocal health. I know that before I became more of a classical vocalist, I didn't take much care of my voice. I had sore throats often, and wouldn't get it checked out. It wasn't until I had an absest in my throat that I had to see a doctor. It resulted in having to remove my tonsils. I was afraid I'd loose my vocal range in some way shape or form. I wasn't educated enough in vocal health that If I just left it unnoticed, it could have seriously damaged my voice. Now I am taking every possible measure to keep my voice in good health. To be honest I think it's a combination of money, lack of healthy knowledge, and just plain laziness.

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Interesting! thanks for the comment.

Next question would be, why aren't CCM artists more knowledgeable? Do fewer get any kind of training, or do non-classical teachers not emphasize health issues enough? Especially now with so much info widely available on the web ...

is it possible that, in some CCM/alternative circles, taking too much care of one's voice is seen as "messing with what's natural" or "losing authenticity?" Rebellion against any hint of preciousness & upper-class pretension?

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  • 1 month later...

There is some truth to what you say about "messing with what's natural". I have had numerous conversations, including one with Robert on this subject. I would say this is more evident in CCM, as more of them seek coaches. Of course I sell products so I'm a little biased but I have heard from a few vocal coaches that "If your singing properly you don't need that stuff." Of course they preach that to their students. The details this statement doesn't take into account are lifestyle, environment, medications and discipline, all quite dramatic.

I think it also has something to do with the individualistic nature of the singers. Many other genre sing around other people, so once one choir or quartet member finds a product he/she likes, others get encouraged to try it. Just like the "secrets of the stars", soloists prefer their peers and fans not know the secrets of the trade.

It can also geographical, for instance, Entertainers Secret was invented and marketed heavily between Memphis and Nashville, laden with coaches and ENT types. Therefore, I sell more of it to country music and church groups than to the hard rockers from LA which know Clearvoice helps clarity in their scream.

Why aren't they more knowledgeable? Money. It takes money to market, even ailments. The vocalist market is small and there are few avenues available to market it, aka bring awareness. You wouldn't know about half the illnesses "available to you" if a drug company didn't pay a network to do a report about it and fill it with advertisements for meds. It would be cool if I could afford to pay CNN to get Dr Gupta to do a report on how important hydration is to the throat and throw in a couple commercials for Entertainers Secret.

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Unfortunately, the one clinical study on Entertainers Secret showed that it actually irritates the vocal cords...mildly... and there's no chemical/clinical evidence that the ingredients have any beneficial effect whatsoever. It temporarily makes upper throat feel good, that's all. Of course, singers who believe it helps them will relax and sing better because it gives them confidence..the placebo effect is real and powerful ... I prefer singers to feel confident because of their technique and knowledge not because of an external substance... but I know how many singers do swear by the product and so I don't spend a lot of energy discouraging it!

there's room for all philosophies.

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I do not know if the very good book, "Keep your voice Healthy" by Dr Brodnitz is still available. It acted as a guide to how to behave to protect your voice. Dr. Tomatis has words about that in "The Ear and the Voice" which Francis Keeping and I translated.

Most classical singers I know take their health very seriously, and limit activities and foods that will interfere with singing.

As part of our professional lives we do not have to sing with microphones on a regular basis, and we don't inhabit loud parties, smoke filled rooms, not drink excessively -well, nobody has to do that. We avoid crowds and noise to protect our ears and voices.

We work very hard on vocal technique to protect our instruments. and take colds and sore throats very seriously. We avoid "doping" with cortisone to sing over a bad throat. We regularly trade health tips, and most of the people I know are very savvy. We feel our best defense is a good technique. I am talking about my immediate colleagues.

Of course we have recently heard of one person being operated on for nodes TWICE. That is caused by bad singing. It is very rare to hear that in the classical world.

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Joanna, I'm not sure what your comment had to do with the subject. It seems you do spend some energy discouraging it and frankly, providing incorrect information in the form of an opinion. Therefore, thank you for proving my point and answering your own question about why artists are the way they are and where they get their information.

I offered my insight as someone that has worked with thousands of singers and thought I gave professional input to the subject. Fortunately, as perpetual students, singers look for information, not provided to them by their personal coaches or by coaches with a limited view, and just want someone to discuss their situation. I discuss their issue and will not sell something they don't need or won't work in their situation. In fact, my whole business model is based on individual needs, there is no cure-all, one product may be better at one thing than another.

I would like to see the one study you mention. Neither me or the manufacturer have any information to a study. I'm sure we'll see one here soon. Hydration is the primary component of most throat issues. When used the water ingredient alone would have an qualified anticipated effect therefore it is not a placebo effect. This would occur with some singers that use the incorrect product or use one incorrectly.

Compared to a team of clinicians, if I had charted my own study, I would have to add the tens of thousands of bottles of ES a year that I personally send out. In my career, not one mention of irritation. My study may not be organized, but in the last few years clinical studies have proven eggs have cholesterol, no wait, they don't, well they do but it's the good stuff, no wait they cause cancer, no they cure cancer, but only if you drink red wine and don't eat meat cooked in a plastic bag.

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