New York, NY (April 29, 2010) -- A medley of rock ’n rollers, sopranos and musical theater singers in the New York area received a comprehensive voice check-up and a stroboscopic exam of their vocal cords as part of an annual Voice Screening for Professional Singers, sponsored by The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and MusiCares the charitable arm of the national Recording Academy. The screening program was begun as a meaningful way to observe World Voice Day in New York City, one of the entertainment capitals of the world.
“We found fairly extensive voice problems among professional singers, which is proof positive there is a large unmet need for vocal care within the show business community,” said Michael Pitman, MD, director of New York Eye and Ear’s Voice & Swallowing Institute. “Vocal folds are a singers’ instrument and livelihood, so getting a comprehensive voice exam is a smart way to ensure a singing career over the long term,” he said.
Almost three-quarters of the singers also complained of allergies (pollen producing trees bloomed early and profusely in the city this year), and it was striking how few knew which products would be most beneficial or harmful in treatment of allergies. “Over the counter or prescribed oral allergy medication can be extremely drying,” Dr. Pitman noted. “Professional voice users should protect their instrument with medications that are targeted at the area of their allergy symptoms without the systemic side effects that can affect their voice.”
Asked to hit high and low notes, each singer’s vocal fold was simultaneously photographed and recorded during a thorough, half-hour assessment by one of four speech language pathologists. Then, each singer had a private consultation with Dr. Pitman and Amy Lebowitz, a singing voice specialist, who provided them with a personalized folder of voice care recommendations that included vivid, colorful images of their vocal folds which can be used as a base line reference for future exams. Also included in each singer’s take-home packet was a voice conservation tip sheet, applicable to singers of all stripes.
More than half of the 37 singers who were screened discovered they had vocal problems resulting from nodules and polyps on their vocal folds, atrophy, muscle tension dysphonia, allergy or acid reflux.
The screening is one of many events held nationally in celebration of World Voice Day of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. KayPentax, a medical instrument company, also helped sponsor the New York screening
The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, founded in 1820 and the first specialty hospital in the United States, is a teaching affiliate of the New York Medical College and member of Continuum Health Partners. NYEEI handles approximately 224,500 outpatient visits and performs over 25,000 surgical procedures per year. It has one of the nation’s most extensive eye, ear, nose and throat clinics.
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