Project Title

“Who I Was Is Not Who I Am”: A Qualitative Study of Effects of Voice Loss on Professional Voice Users

Authors' Affiliations

Leticia Pizzino, Department of Communication and Performance, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Communication & Performance

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Amber Kinser

Type

Oral Competitive

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Master’s

Project's Category

Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract Text

Storytelling is recognized as an important skill in many fields including, but not limited to communication, education, and business. A professional storyteller is dependent on their voice, which is their biomedically imbedded work tool. This study, guided by research questions, examines the effects of voice loss on professional voice users. Employing a qualitative method, using one-one-one interviews and a focus group, this study investigates the experiences of a singer/actor, a singer/storyteller, a storyteller/public speaker, a teacher/storyteller, and an administrator to examine impacts of their varying degrees of voice loss on their quality of life. Findings indicate that vocal dysfunction, or dysphonia, had the following impacts for storytellers and professional voice users. First, it impaired their ability to work. Participants experienced from limited to complete inability to perform their job. This suggests that professional vocal performers are at risk for economic distress if they lose full use of their voice. Second, dysphonia created emotional distress. The implications of voice loss for those who heavily rely on their voices for work, include reduced quality of life. Finally, dysphonia impacted identity. Specifically, the participants described the challenge of losing their defined role as speaker or singer and having to let go of their former identity. This suggests that when voice professionals experience voice loss, they may be faced with relinquishing their identity and seeking a new one. The author makes suggestions for future research on voice loss for specific groups of professional voice users, such as storytellers, singers, teachers, actors, and others. These individuals may use this knowledge to better negotiate challenges of vocal dysfunction if it occurs. Understanding the relationship of a vocal professional and their voice will enable healthcare providers and other professionals to better provide care and support.

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“Who I Was Is Not Who I Am”: A Qualitative Study of Effects of Voice Loss on Professional Voice Users

Storytelling is recognized as an important skill in many fields including, but not limited to communication, education, and business. A professional storyteller is dependent on their voice, which is their biomedically imbedded work tool. This study, guided by research questions, examines the effects of voice loss on professional voice users. Employing a qualitative method, using one-one-one interviews and a focus group, this study investigates the experiences of a singer/actor, a singer/storyteller, a storyteller/public speaker, a teacher/storyteller, and an administrator to examine impacts of their varying degrees of voice loss on their quality of life. Findings indicate that vocal dysfunction, or dysphonia, had the following impacts for storytellers and professional voice users. First, it impaired their ability to work. Participants experienced from limited to complete inability to perform their job. This suggests that professional vocal performers are at risk for economic distress if they lose full use of their voice. Second, dysphonia created emotional distress. The implications of voice loss for those who heavily rely on their voices for work, include reduced quality of life. Finally, dysphonia impacted identity. Specifically, the participants described the challenge of losing their defined role as speaker or singer and having to let go of their former identity. This suggests that when voice professionals experience voice loss, they may be faced with relinquishing their identity and seeking a new one. The author makes suggestions for future research on voice loss for specific groups of professional voice users, such as storytellers, singers, teachers, actors, and others. These individuals may use this knowledge to better negotiate challenges of vocal dysfunction if it occurs. Understanding the relationship of a vocal professional and their voice will enable healthcare providers and other professionals to better provide care and support.