Why I'm Getting an SLP Degree
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
You might be wondering how I went from a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre to a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology...
I first realized how careful you have to be as a vocal athlete when I was a teenager. I was in rehearsals for multiple shows at the same time, one of which requiring constant yelling. Due to excessive laryngeal muscle tension, I lost my high notes and my voice was becoming unreliable, so I started voice therapy with a speech-language pathologist. My SLP taught me laryngeal massage, semi-occluded vocal tract exercises, optimal dynamic body alignment, among other things. My voice got back to the way it was, and I still incorporated these tools I learned every day.
Still, along the way I was sometimes told I had constriction in my throat or tongue tension while I sang. I was trying to make a sound that was loud and chesty as I liked that I could sound impressive and powerful. So for me, I was usually using exercises that targeted voice hyperfunction.
Then when I graduated from my performing arts conservatory, I was finally able to train in Somatic Voicework™: The LoVetri Method. The extreme controversies in the voice world finally were starting to make sense, as I learned an approach using simple ACTIONABLE language while still being based in science. Imagine that - we don't have to think of directly manipulating any of the structures inside the throat in order to sound how we want to?!
However, much of the in-depth science supporting vocal pedagogy was still over my head, and I was filled with many questions. Why when I asked how much water I should drink in a day I got 10 different answers from SLPs and laryngologists? Why does this prominent voice teacher claim that they can manipulate their lymph nodes to instantly improve their voice? I could have spent a lot more time and money asking for expert opinion and getting completely different answers, only some of which being supported by current research. So I set out to find answers with the aim to improve both my own singing and my teaching.
Now that I have finished all of my voice disorder courses at NYU and am participating in two voice research labs - do I have all the answers I were seeking? No, and I don't think I ever will. Science supporting singing still has a long way to go.
But I did learn how to critically evaluate research articles on my own in order determine for myself if a method is science-based or not. If a question comes up, I can review the literature and give my opinion with cited sources. And that I will be forever grateful for as a lifelong skill.
Now that I've had this important path with science, it's time to go back to focusing on creating art. Thank you to my master's program directors for allowing my final elective course to be with the performing arts department so my journey can come full circle as I graduate this summer!