Title

The role of choral singing in speaking voice preservation of aging adults

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-1-2020

Journal

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Volume

63

Issue

7

DOI

10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00347

Abstract

© 2020 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Purpose: This descriptive cohort pilot study, using a convenience sample, examined whether evidence from vocal function measures, auditory–perceptual ratings, and/or endoscopic signs of aging supported singing in senior chorales as a possible intervention to preserve the speaking voice in aging adults. Method: Thirteen singers and five nonsinging controls, all over 65 years of age, participated. They were assessed at two visits, 15–20 months apart. Vocal function measures and auditory–perceptual ratings of estimated age and the presence of voice disorders were compared across singing status and visit. Changes in the presence and degree of laryngeal signs of aging between visits were compared across singing status. Results: Using an alpha of .2, deemed acceptable for pilot studies, vocal function measures supported choral singing as an intervention to preserve the speaking voice as less noise energy between 2 and 3 kHz (p = .01) and lower phonation threshold pressures (PTPs) were present (p = .09) for singers compared to nonsinging controls. Greater flows at comfortable pitch (p = .04) and high pitch (p = .06) as well as lower cepstral peak prominence smoothed (CPPS) for the vowel /a/ (p < .01) were found at Visit 2 for both groups, but singers demonstrated lower flows at Visit 2 than nonsinging controls at comfortable pitch (p = .06). Auditory– perceptual ratings did not support preservation of speaking voice, although a larger percentage of listeners rated nonsinging controls as voice disordered at Visit 2. Endoscopic ratings supported preservation, as singers were more likely than nonsinging controls to be rated as having laryngeal signs of aging absent at both visits (p = .02). Conclusion: The findings from this pilot study provide evidence that regular singing in senior chorales may assist in preserving older adults’ speaking voices.

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