BACKGROUND: Vocal hygiene is vitally important for protecting vocal quality and promoting vocal longevity. It includes adequate hydration, avoidance of environmental irritants, and refraining from phonotraumatic behaviors such as screaming, excessive talking, and throat clearing. Formal singing training in addition to enhancing singing techniques, is also assumed to promote good vocal hygiene. Consequently, we investigated whether collegiate singers with formal training are more likely to practice good vocal hygiene habits than untrained collegiate singers.METHODS: We completed a prospective cohort study, where collegiate singers at Stanford University were voluntarily enrolled in an annual vocal health clinic. Full laryngeal exams were performed and demographic information, formal vocal training status, and information on vocal hygiene habits were obtained through questionnaires. The results were then analyzed by grouping singers as "untrained" if less than 1 year of formal training, and "trained" if greater than a year.RESULTS: A total of 82 singers were included for analysis, with 49 (59.8%) having greater than one year of formal training. Trained singers were more likely to employ a primary musical singing style of classical or operatic singing compared to untrained singers who were more likely to utilize "R&B" (P < 0.001). No significant differences were found between groups for hydration practices (P=0.20), caffeine consumption (P=0.73), warm up practices (P=0.08), and phonotraumatic behaviors. Alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco, marijuana, e-cigarette usage was similar between groups. Overall, 11% of our sample reported intermittent less than daily marijuana use, with one singer reporting daily consumption. None of the singers in this sample used e-cigarettes. These rates are noticeably lower than the agematched United States population. Perceptions of cigarettes, marijuana, electronic cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine were also the same between groups, with the vast majority of singers perceiving these agents as harmful to the voice (64%-100% depending on the agent). No laryngeal pathology was identified during laryngeal examination of any singers.CONCLUSIONS: Vocal hygiene habits are similar between trained and untrained collegiate singers. This likely relates to a desire for vocal longevity irrespective of prior training. This may dispel the long-held assumption that formal training was necessary to develop good vocal habits. We do however, present a very homogenous, highly educated sample of collegiate singers from Stanford University, having significantly less at-risk behavior than their aged-matched counterparts in the general US population. A lack of laryngeal pathology despite extensive vocal demands may also be reflective of good vocal hygiene habits.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jvoice.2020.03.014
View details for PubMedID 32362576