Date of Thesis



The university voice student, like the collegiate athlete, requires specific institutional procedures and protocols regarding the maintenance of vocal health and treatment of voice injury. While there are a handful of organizations that provide basic vocal health guidelines for institutions (NASM & PAMA, 2014), many schools have not developed a concrete vocal health protocol that provides the appropriate proactive strategies and reactive responses required of an undergraduate music program. With the intention to guide future recommendations and suggestions for proactive and reactive protocol development at Bucknell University, the purpose of this study was to determine the current availability of proactive strategies and reactive responses in NASM accredited voice programs in the northeast. In June 2015, a survey was issued to 304 voice faculty members at 57 NASM-accredited music schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. A response was received from 45 participants at 27 universities for a university response rate of 47.37%. Participants were asked to report: (1) institutional demographics, (2) experiences with student voice injury and responses to injury, and (3) any established proactive strategies and reactive responses in place at their institution. The results indicate that data was received from institutions in every surveyed state. Twenty-five faculty (55.56%) reported they have experienced at least one student whose vocal injury made it difficult to complete major requirements. Only seven out of 45 faculty (15.56%) reported that their institution followed any established vocal health protocol, yet they did not report any formal documentation of a protocol. Data suggests that there may be a need for standardized vocal health protocols at NASM accredited institutions, yet formal strategies, on the whole, are lacking. A lack of reported proactive strategies suggests there is a greater emphasis on reactive responses than proactive strategies. Reactive responses most often included medical attention or the delay or waiving of major requirements. Other less commonly reported reactive responses included adjusted repertoire and lesson time, use of school resources, and emotional support. Of the few reported proactive strategies, the most common included sharing vocal health knowledge in the studio. The second most common was a pre-injury orientation with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist (ENT). Further research is necessary to determine whether a standardized protocol procedure for these types of proactive strategies in more institutions would result in a greater consciousness of prevention and, as a result, a diminished need for utilization of reactive responses. The results of this study will inform a replication of a national survey designed to further understanding of the current prevalence of vocal injury and vocal health strategies at the undergraduate level that will take place in October 2015. A presentation at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association conference in April will include both the final pilot study data and the preliminary data from the national survey.


vocal health, proactive strategies, reactive responses, wellness initiative

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Emily Martin

Second Advisor

Kim Councill