Resonant voice therapy uses messa di voce (volume glides) to help establish vocal economy during speech and singing. Vocal function exercises, a series of vocally balancing techniques that were originally researched by Joe Stemple (Stemple et al 1994), include warming up, stretching and sustaining vocal output, and follow a musical outline. But what happens when a client needing voice rehabilitation isn’t as familiar with music knowledge? What if they have trouble staying true to the protocol and need modifications? What if they need a visual aid to know if they’re louder or softer in volume/dB? Let’s explore some cheap and low cost options to help clients become very successful with voice therapy techniques:
1) VOCAL PITCH MONITOR
Vocal pitch monitor app is either $1.99 or free depending on the IOS you are using. It is available on IPAD, and works well to give your client a live view of the pitch/Hz/frequency they are creating with their voice. The pros: you can view the yellow line when you create vocal sound, it provides visual representation of a linear type where low pitches are at the bottom of the phone screen and higher pitches are towards the top. The cons: you can’t select certain pitches by frequency (Hz) because it reads as a piano would with labeled pitches like C4 or G3. Also, if your client’s voice has too much noise within the signal (roughness, breathiness, etc) it may not pick up the signal and will not show a yellow line.
Vocal Pitch Monitor is a great option to help clients know where their voices are when starting low pitch/Hz and increasing each pitch/Hz for the power exercise.
2) PIANO FOR IPHONE
Piano for Iphone is free on the IPHONE IOS. It is not available on IPAD or Android. You can use this to have clients choose a pitch/note for warmup and 5 pitches/notes for the power exercise starting from left to right. The pros: PIANO for IPHONE shows pitches/Hz in a linear layout on a piano keyboard. The left side is the lower pitches, C3 corresponds to 130Hz, C4 corresponds to 261Hz. The octaves consist of ABCDEFG. The cons: it takes a bit of education to show your client what you wish for them to use the piano for, but once they learn this, they can give themselves pitches to match that they can then replicate on their own. It also doesn’t tell your client that they have ‘matched’ the correct pitch/Hz.
3) BLA BLA BLA
Visual representations of vocal volume are hard to find, and this is an oldie but a goodie. Made for IPAD, but found on IPhone, Bla Bla Bla gives various faces which features grow in size the louder the dB level of the sound input becomes. It has multiple faces to choose from, and can be used with clients of any age. I use it to teach people how much effort goes into soft vocal sound, medium and then loud vocal sound because it instantly shows a visual of largeness that corresponds with loudness in dB. It’s a great training tool all around, and I don’t think it has any cons!
GIVE IT A TRY
Apps are a great way to set your patient up for success when you’re recommending Vocal function exercises (Stemple et al 1994) You could also consider recording yourself live in a session to send home with your client so they have a video reference with audio for what you want them to specifically complete, as modifications to the mechanism of change (Bane et al 2019) can be completed based on the desired outcome for prescribing these.
-Bane, M., Brown, M., Angadi, V., Croake, D. J., Andreatta, R. D., & Stemple, J. C. (2019). Vocal function exercises for normal voice: With and without semi-occlusion. International journal of speech-language pathology, 21(2), 175–181. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2017.1416176
-Stemple JC, Lee L, D’amico B, Pickup B. (1994). Efficacy of vocal function exercises as a method of improving voice production. Journal of Voice, 8, 271-278. doi: 10.1016/S0892-1997(05)80299-1
About the Author:
Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She evaluates and rehabilitates voice, upper airway disorders and swallowing at her private practice, ATEMPO Voice Center, and lectures on voice science internationally. She is a classically trained mezzo soprano with a minor in vocal performance from Texas Christian University. She is a member of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Upper Airway Disorders. She has collaborated on and authored multiple peer reviewed published research articles about her community-based voice specialty clinic. She continues to develop a line of instantly downloadable voice assessment and voice therapy materials on TPT or her ATEMPO voice center website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Instagram or like her on Facebook. Kristie is a founding member and co-owner of The Confident Clinician Cooperative and mentors on voice, upper airway, business and private practice through www.confidentclinician.com.