New vocal wellness program blends performing arts and health sciences

OHIO's College of Fine Arts and College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) are set to launch a new program in voice science that promotes vocal wellness through voice examinations among Fine Arts students, opportunities for students to participate in research, and the ability to receive referrals for specialized diagnosis and treatments.

The program is supported through Ohio University’s 1804 Fund and is led by Professor of Music Margaret Kennedy-Dygas who specializes in voice, and Associate Professor of Speech Language Pathology Youngsun Kim.

"We’ve got some significant cohorts of students who will be very interested once they learn about it," Kennedy-Dygas said. 

As a part of the program, Ingo Titze, an internationally recognized expert in voice science, will hold a virtual lecture via Microsoft Teams, “Scientific Support of the Vocal Wellness Program” on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 3:30 pm. Titze’s lecture is supported by the College of Fine Arts Visiting Artists and Scholars program.

Titze said the field of voice sciences is constantly changing due to technological advances and that adapting to these changes means practicing vocalization in a healthy way.

“We tend to think that we vocalize by singing and speaking, always to communicate something to somebody else,” Titze said. “But I asked myself the question: If I was on an island all by myself and I had no other human around to communicate with, would I still vocalize? … When we vocalize, what do we turn on in all the body functions to make them better and healthier?”

Margaret Kennedy-Dygas
Margaret Kennedy-Dygas, Professor of Music, conducts vocal wellness screenings with students such as Megan Collina, BFA Musical Theatre '23. Photo by Sophia Dicuirci, BFA '25.

The new vocal wellness program will be equipped with a portable laryngoscope system, Kennedy-Dygas said, which will allow students to examine and research the throat. She also hopes to grow the program into a certificate track.

The vocal wellness program aligns with the College of Fine Arts’ endeavor to develop and grow its Arts in Health Graduate Certificate, a program of study for degree seeking students that builds on their fine arts knowledge and practice to train students on how the arts have measurable, positive and long-lasting effects on a person’s health and well-being.

“Our first priority with our voice students is to begin to embed a sense of their understanding of what their voice is doing and what their wellness level is when they start their degree program,” Kennedy-Dygas said.

October 24, 2022
Emma Skidmore, BSJ ‘23