Dr. Robert E. Butler
Dear Dr. Butler,
I am I Ph.D. student in music and am contacting you to request your assistance in my dissertation research, which involves the use of laryngoscopy to determine whether the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) in its current form is appropriate for 10-16 year-old singers. A secondary purpose is also to determine whether or not vocal health and voice preservation knowledge correlates with aberrant vocal symptoms and if a new VHI for this age range would better suit their needs. Data related to these two purposes will allow us to better understand the vocal competency of young singers and also whether the need for this information is uniquely critical to older children. Such data will lend support to both education and dietary modification in this as of yet under-examined group of singers.
This study aims to answer specific research questions, such as whether the VHI for singers in its current format meet the needs of a developing young singer; young singers have enough vocal health knowledge to be able to communicate effectively their vocal complications; and if the current VHI for singers is not an effective tool for young singers, should a new instrument be designed for our youth.
One VHI study of a group age 6-79 (mean age 39.6) has already been done, and it was a multi-disciplinary evaluation, that began with the standard survey form and was followed by a rigid and/or flexible laryngeal video- endoscopy, acoustic analysis and aerodynamic measures of mean air flow rate, maximum phonation time, and estimated subglottic pressure. This proposed study should follow the original one as closely as possible, using two test groups of both singers and non-singers with vocal complaints. A control group will again consist of both singers and non-singers who are 25-45 and have also had some voice problem, to demonstrate the validity of the current VHI for singers.
Thank you for considering my request and I hope you will be able to assist me in this study.