Knowledge and training of speech-language pathologists regarding assessment and treatment considerations for singers
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Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine SLPs' preparation to work with singers by examining their knowledge and training levels regarding vocal hygiene, assessment and treatment for singers, vocal pedagogy and competency in working with singers. Method: A 66-item survey designed to address the research questions was distributed via email to possible participants found through American Speech Language Hearing Association's (ASHA) "Find a Professional" service. Each email contained a password-protected web link to the survey, which was hosted on Survey Monkey. Results: The majority of participants reported low amounts of academic and clinical exposure to singers. The largest percentage demonstrated adequate knowledge of vocal hygiene, but had difficulty with knowledge items regarding assessment and treatment considerations for singers and vocal pedagogy. The majority expressed low levels of competency in working with singers. However, these effects appeared to be mediated by voice specialization. Voice specialists (VS), a subset of the total participants, were found to have received significantly more total hours studying voice and had significantly more voice clients, including singers, than non-voice specialists (NVS). A combination of academic and clinical exposure at the graduate level was found to lead to continued study regarding voice disorders and vocal function for singers. VS also reported higher levels of training in vocal pedagogy and performance and demonstrated significantly higher knowledge levels regarding assessment and treatment considerations for singers and vocal pedagogy than NVS. Similarly, they also reported higher overall competency in working with singers than the NVS. Conclusions: This preliminary data suggests that overall preparation to work with singers is somewhat lacking in most graduate programs. The majority of SLPs appears to retain information regarding vocal hygiene, but does not appear to remember some basic facts about the treatment of voice disorders. Improvements towards education in voice would serve as a worthy goal in improving SLP's service delivery in general to voice clients and singers. Additionally, providing more opportunities to work with voice clients and singers would also help better prepare SLPs as a whole to work with singers. Finally, a structured accreditation process to become a singing voice specialist (SVS) is sorely needed to ensure optimal service delivery to this unique population.