Last month, the Eastern Diocese’s Sacred Music Council hosted an informative online lecture titled “Your Voice, Vocal Health, and the Pandemic.”
Around 50 people took part in the December 16 event, during which Dr. Norman D. Hogikyan—Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, as well as Professor of Music, at the University of Michigan—taught about the physiology and anatomy of vocal cords, and how the use of one’s singing voice could potentially impact the spread of the Coronavirus.
With Armenian Church choirs throughout the Diocese taking special precautions to keep safe and healthy while worshipping, Dr. Hogikyan’s presentation was timely and encouraging.
He discussed several studies on mask-wearing among singers, and on other beneficial practices that help keep the virus from spreading within choirs, including keeping a minimum of 12 feet between singers and allowing time for the air in the space to circulate and cleanse periodically.
Dr. Hogikyan cautioned that there is still much that we don’t know about how the voice impacts the spread of the Coronavirus. However, he advised choirs to follow proper safety measures: wearing suitable masks that fit properly, washing hands, and standing at least 12 feet apart when singing. He added that singing without an organ accompaniment could be helpful because it would lessen the singers’ need to project their voices.
Because every parish has a different singing space, choirs need to be mindful of their position in relation to members of the congregation. Choir members were also encouraged to sing at home throughout the week, to keep vocal cords strong. This proved to be a key point for many of lecture participants, who were concerned that they would lose vocal strength if they were not allowed to sing in church. Dr. Hogikyan’s advice was that vocal strength could be persevered by singing at home.
A discussion followed the formal lecture. Watch a recording of the entire lecture and discussion by clicking here.