Imelda Theresa Drumm, Roles for Leading Ladies: Investigating the influence of ovarian hormones on performance anxiety and vocal impairment in elite singing (DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2017)

These details defined Wed Apr 17 13:49:36 2019  edit
 Author:  Drumm, Imelda Theresa 
 Title:  Roles for Leading Ladies: Investigating the influence of ovarian hormones on performance anxiety and vocal impairment in elite singing 
 Degree, institution:  DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2017 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies  
 Content, key terms: 
 Abstract: 

Professional singing in the classical western tradition is a highly stressful occupation. Training requires many years to gain proficiency. The vocalis muscle is influenced by fertility hormones. Unlike men, women experience regular variations in reproductive hormones impacting emotions and vocal quality. Illness, medications and menstrual oedema risk damage to the instrument during robust singing. Events, such as pregnancy and menopause may cause audible change. Motherhood can intensify stress due to gender roles at home and at work.

Music performance anxiety (MPA) is reported by most all career performers. Constant travel and performing can interfere with home life. Regular elevated stress impacts physical and mental well-being and overtime may alter the body’s response to fighting infection, influencing the acquisition of depressive disorders and compromised immunity. Previous performance research has documented heightened stress reporting from women. The incidence of injury, illness, depression and MPA among vocal soloists is largely unknown due to the sensitive nature of the research and the geographical dispersion of these individuals.

This study investigates these concerns, with specific focus vis-à-vis the influence circulating hormones (demonstrably ovarian hormones) may exert on the activation stress response in performance. Particularly, whether perceived stress may be due to hormonal influences affecting the operation of the singing voice, or distinct from sensations regarding vocal impairment. The research contains quantitative and qualitative analysis of five self-administered questionnaires. Quantitative measurements regarding perceived state/trait anxiety, musical performance anxiety, singing voice impairment, and hormonal disruption are examined using four previously validated, amended psychometric research instruments. Additional quantitative and qualitative analysis is performed on multiple choice and open-ended responses which are obtained from a supplementary informal mixed methods survey designed by the researcher. Findings suggest that life-cycle fertility hormones influence performance anxiety and singing voice impairment. The actions of fluctuating fertility hormones, oral contraceptives, assisted fertility, pregnancy, chemical abortion and hormone replacement therapies, including post-menopausal androgen's particularly in relation to anxiety sensitivity, require further research.