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Van Lawrence Prize 2010
The implications of intensive singing training on the vocal health and development of boy choristers in an English cathedral choir – (abstract)
Dr Jenevora Williams (Institute of Education, University of London)
Boy choristers who sing in UK cathedrals and major chapels perform to a professional standard on a daily basis, with linked rehearsals, whilst also following a full school curriculum. This research investigates the impact of this intensive schedule in relation to current vocal health.
This research reports the findings of a longitudinal chorister study, based in one of London's cathedrals. Singing and vocal behaviour have been profiled on a six-monthly basis across three years. The speaking and singing voice data have been analysed using a selection of techniques in current usage in both laboratory and clinical settings. Evaluation and comparison of these methods has enabled a range of effective assessment protocols to be suggested. Similar acoustic data have also been collected from three other groups of boys for comparative purposes.
It has been possible to quantify the possible influence of both school environment and vocal activity on overall vocal health. Significant differences have been noted between the vocal health of the boys in the chorister group and the non-choristers; the boarding choristers, although having the highest vocal loading, have the lowest incidence of voice disorder. This would in itself suggest that the voice is being athletically conditioned to support such activity, or that the chorister group employs some self-regulation with regard to preventing misuse of the voice. The comparison with various other groups of boys implicates the cultural and social influences of peer groups in voice use.