Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Professor Cynthia Lawrence


Poor breath management is problematic for singing. Voice students and singing teachers typically attribute breath management issues to abdominal-diaphragmatic breathing technique. The present study seeks to determine whether glottal insufficiency may also contribute to singer’s breath management problems. Studies have revealed a relationship between incomplete vocal fold closure and inefficiency in the speaking voice. However, the effect of incomplete vocal fold closure on vocal efficiency in singers has yet to be determined. Since the larynx cannot be observed without the assistance of clinical instrumentation, not readily available in the voice studio, issues at the glottal level may be underappreciated as a contributor to poor breath management in the singer.

Two groups of voice students identified with and without breath management problems underwent aerodynamic and acoustic voice assessment as well as videostroboscopy of the vocal folds to quantify the prevalence of incomplete vocal fold closure. These assessments revealed four groups: (1) those with glottic insufficiency and no perceived breathiness; (2) those with glottic sufficiency and perceived breathiness; (3) those with glottic insufficiency and perceived breathiness; and, (4) those with glottic sufficiency and no perceived breathiness. Results suggest that previously undiscovered glottal insufficiency is common, though the correlation with identified breath management problems was not statistically significant. Acoustic and aerodynamic measures including noise-to-harmonics ratio, maximum phonation time, airflow rate, subglottal pressure and laryngeal airway resistance were most sensitive to glottic insufficiency.