I would like to ask, again, for a large-scale, in-the-field study of professionally successful, vocally healthy singers that would examine their vocal patterns and parameters.
The study would look at those in musical styles that generally have loud volume requirements which would be:
1) opera/traditional music theater, 2) rock/pop/contemporary music theater, 3)gospel/R&B
It would include only those vocalists who had been at the top of their profession for not less than 10 years with no injuries caused by performance.
It would look at the following:
Vocal range in pitches, highest to lowest or vice versa
Decibels range, soft to loud, and vice versa
Vocal quality: clear, noisy, nasal, breathy
Vowel sound quality: 1) literal undistorted, 2) literal modified deliberately, 3) distorted, but not deliberately, 4) distorted for artistic purposes as a choice
Length and type of training for singing or speech, if any
Type of practice or vocal warm-up
Physical habits including diet, exercise and rest
Awareness of and use of muscles effecting breathing, both inhalation and exhalation
Knowledge of “vocal function” (what do they know about how human beings make sound?)
The purpose of this research would be to establish norms for professionals. If possible, people who have sung for 25 years or more would be studied in greater detail.
Data evaluation would include looking for similarities anywhere in any category, similarities by men and by women, similarities between singers in any given style, and similarities in approaches to vocal maintenance. Differences would also been noted.
There are have never been any studies like this. Therefore there are no norms for those who teach. Nothing to use as reference. If you have been around as long as I have, you have your own life experience as a resource, but that leaves out a great big bunch of people who are teaching who are just beginning. Where do they go for help? Right now, the only guidance they get is finding someone like me to be a mentor. Not helpful for the majority of teachers. There are studies on opera singers and other elite singers but they were very small and were done for other reasons.
I know the argument against this has always been, “Where do we get these singers? Will they let us study them?” My answer is, you have to go to them, you have to explain why you want them, you have to ask them to participate and you have to give the results of the research and help them see what they have given the world. You must ask them to do the research. Also, if you want money to do the research, you have to first find the singers who will do the study. If you get the top people, there will be money. How could there not be?
Someone out there, this research is just waiting for you. Give it a shot. We need it.