Multi-disciplinary Interchange II

The other side of multi-disciplinary interchange is that speech language pathologists (who don’t sing), medical doctors, and voice researchers need to be willing to learn from teachers of singing. Many in the community I have been in for nearly four decades do, but not all, and, sadly, many who are not in that community at all, could care less. That’s not a good thing in any way.

If you are an otolaryngologist and you have taken some classical singing lessons, you may think that you have a good grasp of how singing training works, but you could be very wrong. If you do not understand the things that impact vocal production that have nothing whatsoever to do with “classical” singing, you could be operating under an assumption that does not serve you, serving the needs of your patients’ voices, well. It is endlessly frustrating to me that my encounters with ENTs and SLPs is such that they are often no better off than their singing teacher colleagues, in that they think that all vocal training labeled with the mystical and all powerful word “classical” is good, is enough and is useful. That would be equivalent to saying that all ENTS are the same, that the ones who have specialized in working with professional voices are the same as the ones who have not, and that the techniques all ENTs use should be uniformly the same, regardless of the diagnosis of the voice disorder. It would also be like saying that if you correct speech, all singing will automatically be better, no matter how the singing happens, and that would just be absurd.

How to get through to the doctors and speech pathologists who think they know! Those of us in the profession who deal with the ones that are knowledgeable (and, thankfully, there are many excellent experts in the various disciplines who are), don’t have easy answers. We can encourage them to read, to take singing lessons, to attend conferences, to talk to their peers, but that doesn’t mean that they take that advice. At the voice science conferences, there is little “crossover” attendance. That means that the MDs arrive for the medical sections, the researchers arrive for the hard science research sections, the SLPs arrive for their presentations and the singing teachers for the pedagogy. Few of each discipline goes to the other disciplines’ presentations and it is only by doing so that there is REAL multi-disciplinary exchange.

If I can sit in the medical portions, the science/research portions, and the SLP portions and make myself try to understand what is presented, and gain a great deal by doing so, why can’t other people spend the time with the singing teachers, learning from them? I have no answer. I do know, however, that the number of people attending any singing conference who are otolaryngologists, speech language pathologists (who don’t sing), or voice science researchers, is very, very small. If you take a poll by asking people to raise their hands, sometimes there is literally one person who isn’t a singing-based attendee in a room of about 250 people.

If you are an ENT, a SLP, or a voice researcher, and this rings at all true for you, I know of a great course at Shenandoah University that happens every summer…………

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