Kari has helped me enormously to free up my voice as an expressive instrument.

— Neil Jordan

Rehabilitation for Injured Singers

A Singing Voice Specialist (SVS) is the label currently given to a singing teacher with specialized training in anatomy, physiology, acoustics and rehabilitation of singers with voice pathologies or injuries. Most importantly, the SVS works in collaboration with a medical team (primarily a laryngologist and speech language pathologist) to help restore the voice of the injured singer.

Singing Voice Specialty is largely in its infancy even though many have been doing this work for years. Discussions can be chronicled to as early as 1984 when Dr. Robert Sataloff outlined the idea of developing a program for the Care of The Professional Voice. Arts Medicine as a field was established in 1987. In 1991, at the Voice Foundation Symposium, further discussion ensued (led by Dr. Sataloff and Dr. Ingo Titze among others) concerning standards of care for the singing voice professional. In fact, Dr. Sataloff was the first to employ the ‘team approach.’

Just as professional athletes require a team of sports and medical specialists to recover from injury, the standard of care in performing arts medicine for singers requires a team approach.

When a singer’s voice is compromised by injury or pathology the rehabilitative team must include an SVS to address the specific demands of the singing voice. Further, the loss of the singing voice can be devastating for both avocational and vocational singers. It is essential these patients have someone knowledgeable to turn to.

I have been working as an SVS since 2001. I work in conjunction with laryngologists (a specialist of the ENT field), Otolaryngologist-voice specialists, and Speech Language Pathologists to utilize the team approach to help singers regain full function of their voice. This work is very specialized and requires a great deal of training to understand the anatomy and physiology of the five-systems of the voice (respiration, phonation, registration, articulation and resonation) as well as training in voice disorders and rehabilitation. A voice teacher must understand how these systems work both independently and collaboratively to produce sound. In addition, an SVS must understand how the injury or pathology impacts vocal function and develop of habilitative plan for the needs of each singer.

It is an honor and a privilege to help singers regain their singing voices. This impacts every aspect of their lives. Not only do we work to regain optimal voice use they are then able to move beyond their pre-injury vocal technique to enjoy their singing in new and meaningful ways.