New technology strikes a note with singers

May 1, 2008

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - The music industry may just have a powerful new instrument. However, you're not likely to find it in any music stores. It's called a stroboscopy machine and Auburn University has one out of only a few in the country.

Singer Chris Trammel is a Christian artist, but some difficulty with his vocal chords had him singing the blues. "When I was singing I was straining, my vocal folds were hitting together really hard, and they were red and irritated," . So Trammel came here to Auburn University's Speech and Hearing Clinic to get his vocal chords screened after hearing about a unique instrument.

"It seems like the people who have been coming in here lately have been people who are wanting to improve their professional voice," said Dr. Laura Plexico. She uses a state-of-the-art machine to perform a stroboscopy that uses a camera and halogen light to evaluate a person's vocal chords.

"We can watch the vocal folds vibrate as they open and close. By doing that, we can see how they are functioning and whether or not there is some tension there. Are they both opening and closing or is only one of them functioning the way it should be," Plexico explained.

Speech experts prompt singers to position their head, and control their breathing in a way where they aren't straining their vocal chords. For Trammel, the techniques have been successful. "Before, I couldn't last but 3 or 4songs, but now I can last at least 8 to 10 songs. I can sing as long as I needed to without getting tired," Trammel said.

The stroboscopy appears to have struck a note with singers. "You don't understand unless you're a singer how much her techniques that she has since she taught can make a singer sing better, sing more relaxed," Trammel added.

The Speech and Hearing Clinic is located in Haley Center on Auburn University's Campus. You can contact them 334-844-9600 for more information.