Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Musical Arts




Roland, Sophie Louise

2nd Supervisor

Calogero, Rachel



This study sought to understand the nature of a singer’s relationship with their voice, a construct I call voice image. Voice image is defined as: a complex, multidimensional construct that includes self-perceptions and attitudes (i.e. thoughts, feelings, and behaviours) with regard to the voice. This definition is modified from Avalos et al’s (2005) definition of body image. The relationship a singer has with their voice is complicated. Vocal pedagogy texts may acknowledge that this relationship exists, but they do not offer teachers guidance or information. Music education and music psychology research address singer or non-singer identity, stereotypes and personalities of singers, and aspects of singer identity as individual ideas. My research seeks to link these items holistically while exploring additional aspects of the self/voice formation and function. Through a thematic analysis of eleven interviews of individuals who had received at least an undergraduate degree with voice as their primary instrument, I sought to answer the following questions:

  • What are the voice self-perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes (or voice image) of classically trained singers between the ages of 22 and 35?
  • What are the domains of voice image?
  • How is voice image formed?
  • How does voice image evolve?
  • Why does voice image matter?

I developed four themes in response to these questions: The Box, Qualities of - or Barriers to- Professional Success, Singer/Voice Relationship, and Coping with Threats to Voice Image. These themes show that voice image is multifaceted and complex, and changes throughout an individual’s lifetime. Voice image has the potential to change the way singers are taught and has additional ramifications for those recovering from vocal injury, dealing with trauma related to singing experiences, or who are undergoing vocal changes.

Summary for Lay Audience

In this thesis, I develop a concept I call voice image. Voice image is like body image, but for your voice. In other words, voice image is the relationship that an individual has with their voice. For this study, I interviewed eleven people ages 22-35 who had at least a bachelor's degree in music with voice as their instrument. I looked for themes across the interviews, compared themes, and developed a construct of what voice image looks like according to the data from my interviews. The four main themes were labelled: The Box, Qualities of- or Barriers to- Professional Success, Singer/voice Relationship, and Coping with Threats to Voice Image. These themes show that voice image is complicated, and changes throughout a person’s lifetime. This research provides a foundation for the concept of voice image upon which research can build. Voice image affects people who are professional singers but might also have implications for people recovering from voice injuries or those who are going through vocal changes. Current literature about singing and teaching singing does not address this complex psychological issue; I hope to change that through my research.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License