The increase in the number of jobs requiring professional voice use has inspired a team of experts to launch a vocal warm up app which takes a preventative approach to dysphonia. Dysphonia is an impairment of normal voice production. It can manifest in varying degrees from mild dysphonia, which would include a slightly strained or weak voice, to total voice loss (aphonia).
According to the British Voice Association, dysphonia has significant financial implications for employers and the NHS. Data gathered in the United States indicates that around 25% of working people take significant amounts of time off work because of vocal problems. Based on these figures, it is estimated that the cost of dysphonia to the British economy is approximately £200 million a year.
The One Minute WarmUp app is available on both IOS https://itunes.apple.com/app/one-minute-voice-warmup/id1212802251?ls=1&mt=8 and Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.speechtools.warmup.
It combines the expertise of international vocal trainers Dr Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher, specialist speech and language therapist Sam Brady and software engineer Garry Brady. The result is an app of lightning-fast vocal warm up exercises, aimed at strengthening the voice and minimising damage due to poor vocal techniques.
Sam Brady explained: “Dysphonia can affect anyone who uses their voice professionally. Our natural instinct is to think this is limited to singers and actors but, in truth, a professional voice user is anyone who relies on their voice directly, or indirectly, to carry out their work. When you think in these terms you quickly realise that the list of professionals that could be affected is far more significant: teachers, public speakers, call centre workers, personal trainers, business coaches, lawyers and so on.”
Dr Kayes, added: “We have taken our many years of experience of working with some of the world’s leading actors, singers and West End artists – as well as our time spent as vocal coaches on ITV’s The Voice – and distilled it into a fun but effective app which delivers real benefit for the end user.”
The app includes a series of exercises in the form of a tutorial video and a condensed, one-minute version of the exercise. Each exercise is designed to stand alone or to be combined with the other techniques, in any preferred order, to create a longer warm up.
A ‘WarmUp of the Week’, targeted at different speaking situations, keeps the content fresh and the user is able to create their own warm up sequences which can be saved for regular use. If the user chooses to sequence five of the exercises together, there are over 360,000 different combinations from which they can choose.
A useful resource for improving and maintaining voice quality, the app can be used pre-emptively, to warm up the vocal cords on the way to work for example, or under the guidance of a speech and language therapist, in cases where patients diagnosed with dysphonia have been advised to practice particular exercises at home.
Fisher concluded: “We have included exercises for creating a relaxed and open sound, clear diction, breath control, as well as examples of how to find more light and shade in your delivery in order to keep people interested in what you are saying. These are exercises that we use ourselves when we’re doing 11-hour lecturing days, so we know they work!”
The app delivers simple but effective exercises that can make a difference to the way people communicate and the way in which they are perceived by others. According to classic research, conducted by Professor Albert Mehrabian, 38% of your likability is down to your tone of voice.