Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Olivia Yinger

Second Advisor

Dr. Martina Vasil


As professional voice users, music therapists should be aware of their vocal health and the risks for developing vocal problems through habitual vocal use. Vocal abuse refers to vocal activities such as yelling, singing with poor technique, and shouting which cause the laryngeal mechanism to not function optimally. Although many music therapists are at risk for vocal abuse, to my knowledge, no researchers have looked at how music therapists are using their voices. The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand music therapists’ perceptions of their vocal health and vocal health training. I used a multiple case study design to develop a deeper understanding of vocal training that music therapists have had in the past, their current perception of their vocal health, and factors that facilitate and inhibit their vocal health. The participants were five board-certified music therapists (MT-BC) who had either worked in their current position for at least three years or had worked with the population they currently serve for three or more years. Although the clinical settings where participants worked varied (e.g., schools, inpatient hospital, clinics, and private practice), all five participants worked in Kentucky. Participants took part in one in-person semi-structured interview, completed a vocal health diary for five workdays, and responded to follow-up questions through email. I manually transcribed interviews and coded responses and another researcher assisted with coding. Qualitative analysis revealed that several factors facilitated the vocal health of the music therapists, specifically: feedback during music therapist training, home remedies, medical interventions, and motivation to continue vocal training. Several factors that inhibited the music therapists from achieving their optimal vocal health were lack of training, extended vocal use, the negative impact of allergies and sickness, and logistical and financial barriers. All participants experienced vocal problems at some point in their professional career but did not seek additional vocal training because of the inhibitive factors. The findings suggest that music therapists would benefit from additional vocal training opportunities within their entry education and training and easily accessible vocal health resources and continuing education opportunities specific to the field of music therapy. Additionally, there is a need for additional research on the effects of vocal training programs in music therapy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Included in

Music Therapy Commons