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Work-Related Communicative Profile of Voice Teachers: Effects of Classroom Noise on Voice and Hearing Abilities

      ABSTRACT

      Purpose

      Vocal instructors during their normal workday are exposed to high noise levels that can affect their voice and hearing health. The goal of this study was to evaluate the voice and hearing status of voice instructors before and after lessons and relate these evaluations with voice and noise dosimetry taken during lessons.

      Methods

      Eight voice instructors volunteered to participate in the study. The protocol included (1) questionnaires, (2) pre/post assessment of voice quality and hearing status, and (3) voice and noise dosimetry during lessons. Acoustic measurements were taken of the unoccupied classrooms.

      Results

      In six of eight classrooms, the measured noise level was higher than the safety recommendations set by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The background noise level and the reverberation time in the classrooms were in compliance with the national standard recommendations. We did not find a clear pattern comparing pre- and post-measurements of voice quality consistent among genders. In all subjects, the Sound Pressure Levels mean increased, and the standard deviation of fundamental frequency decreased indicating association to vocal fatigue. Previous studies link these changes to increasing vocal fatigue. The audiometric results revealed seven out of eight instructors have sensorineural hearing loss.

      Conclusions

      The interaction of the acoustic space and noise levels can contribute to the development of hearing and voice disorders for voice instructors. If supported by larger sample size, the results of this pilot study could justify the need for a hearing and voice conservation program for music faculty.

      Key Words

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