The Effects of Singing on Speech in Geriatric Voice.

Summer 2016

Libby Perfitt : Linguistics

Mentor: Professor Keith Johnson

I am investigating the effects of singing on speech in geriatric voice. In my work as vocal coach I have perceived changes in students’ speaking voices alongside their advancements as singers. Scientifically, it has been noted that the voice undergoes many changes with age, most of which occur more intensely after 65 years of age in men and after menopause in women. Academically, I hope to build on existing research to discover more specifically what scientific factors of speech can be improved through singing. To this end, I am conducting an 8 week study at a senior center where I am teaching a group of seniors to sing and conducting a pre-test/post-test speech experiment, following which I will analyze the data for differences.

To speak of long term benefits in working with elderly subjects, I see potential for the development speech therapies through singing. I also see a thread between my intended research and cognitive processes of aging and fine motor control in the adaptation to physical changes of one’s body. Hopefully, through my research I may be able to get started on some of the fundamental details that can assist in paving the way not just for improving speech, but for repairing speech as well.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Professor Keith Johnson for agreeing to mentor me. His belief in my ideas has been encouraging and validating. I also would like to thank Professor Susan Lin for her expert instruction and guidance. To The Pergo Foundation; I am a student who specifically returned to academia to study the science of the voice with the expressed interest of using my career experience to help people improve their speaking voice through singing. Your assistance has not only made this possible, but has given me a new drive and determination to continue my studies further. I am also very grateful to all the staff at SURF, especially Kristi Govella, for seeing potential in me and my research. Thank you.