Toward defining "vocal constriction": practitioner perspectives

Belinda Lemon-McMahon*, Diane Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: This research investigated the terminology used in relation to constriction of the singing voice from a range of practitioner perspectives. It focused on the locality, causes, consequences, management, trends, identification, and vocabulary of constriction. The research aimed to develop a holistic understanding of the term "vocal constriction" from participant experiences and perceptions (N = 10).

Method: Data collection occurred through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a range of voice care professionals. Participants included three professional groups: (1) Ear, Nose, and Throat medical specialists or laryngologists, (2) speech pathologists or speech therapists, and (3) singing teachers. Purposive sampling was used to ensure that the participants from groups 1 and 2 had extensive experience with singers in their practice. The singing teachers were experienced in either classical or contemporary styles, or both.

Results: Participant responses highlighted a discrepancy in preferred terminology, with "constriction" being less favored overall. Several anatomical locations were identified including postural, supraglottic (anteroposterior and false fold), articulatory, and in the intrinsic and extrinsic laryngeal musculature; psychological issues were also identified. Primary causes, secondary causes, and influencing factors were identified. Inefficient technique and poor posture or alignment were considered primary causes; similarly, emotion and anxiety or stress were identified as influencing factors by the majority of participants. There was less uniformity in responses regarding other causes.

Conclusions: The major findings of this research are the respective participant group distinctions, an uncertainty regarding anteroposterior constriction, and that the location and effects of constriction are individual to the singer and must be considered contextually. A definition is offered, and areas for further research are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Constriction
  • Singing
  • Tension
  • Vocal strain
  • Voice


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