Belters Pathology? Three Case Presentations

Wendy DeLeo LeBorgne, Ph.D.
Presented on behalf of Dr. LeBorgne by Martin Spencer
Voice Pathologist & Singing Voice Specialist
Thomas J. Kereiakes, M.D.

The debate on the health of Broadway “belting” provides a source of heated discussion among many singing voice teachers, voice pathologists, voice scientists, and otolaryngologists. Specifically, is belting detrimental to the laryngeal mechanism when it is trained in young voices or used robustly in eight performances per week? This session will provide three case studies of young belters (18-22 years old) who each present with an unusual, yet similar vocal anomaly.

In each of these cases, one of the vocal folds presents as essentially non-vibratory, edematous, and erythematous; while the other vocal fold appears essentially normal in its mucosa and vibratory characteristics. Laryngeal videostroboscopic examinations will be provided on each of these singers. Perceptually, there was minimal hoarseness among these three performers. Two of the belters presented are professional (Actor’s Equity Association) performers and one is in a pre-professional musical theater training program (currently earning Equity points). Audio examples will be provided. Demographic information, treatments attempted, and outcome results will be discussed. This session is designed to provide an open forum to discuss:

  1. Possible explanation of this pathology and its relevance (or lack thereof) to belting.
  2. Treatment recommendations from singing voice teachers, voice pathologists, and otolaryngologists.

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