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Vocal Health First Aid Course

One silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that webinars have taken a foothold in learning, career development and networking. The internet has been flush with workshops and talks on pretty much everything and anything, and singers and choir leaders have reaped the benefits of these, adding to their tools in preparation to returning to live singing when the time comes (and enhancing the online work they do, of course!).

One such course is the Vocal Health First Aid course, a new course from Vocal Health Education, masterminded by Dr Jenevora Williams and Dr Stephen King. This course has become popular particularly amongst choir leaders, but also singing and drama teachers as a doorway into the inner workings of the voice, the huge variety of variables that can affect the voice, how to identify potential problems and what to do when these occur.

Here is a quote from their website:

“Every theatre company and educational establishment in the UK is required by law to have a qualified first aider and to train their staff in safeguarding. With the rising need for Mental Health First Aid training, we suggest that on a similar level, Vocal Health First Aid is included as a routine qualification within these institutions.”

The course offers around nine hours of video content delivered by a team of experts all focusing on different aspects that can affect the voice. These include nutrition and hydration, an introduction to the anatomy of the voice, a holistic look at the body and how everything is interconnected, how to diagnose issues with speech, how to use movement to locate where a problem might lie, an introduction to SOVT and straw phonation, and an introduction to mindfulness techniques, plus more besides.

The key message of the course is to inform, but also to give delegates the confidence to know their own limits and when to refer a voice user for more specialist care.

This all culminates in a quiz and an interview with a member of the team of specialists to talk through aspects of the course and there are pathways to take your learning further on completion of this course.

Members of Project Get Singing’s parent organisation ‘MD Brunch’ were privileged to have some direct contact with Jenevora Williams and Stephen King as part of MD Brunch’s ‘Intensive’ weekend in early March 2021. The introduction to the course was a well-attended session and Jenevora and Stephen generously provided a follow-up to MD Brunch members that took the course over the Spring period. This follow-up was a hugely engaging Q&A where members were able to dig a little deeper and ask any questions that had arisen for them over the duration of the course.

In a time where issues with the voice are seen as the personal responsibility of the singer alone, this course is a vital wake up call to say that vocal injury is inevitable, in the same way that sports injuries are, and we as voice practitioners can be a first port of call to reassure those with concerns that help is there, and above all, the injury is not their fault!

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