Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Vocal Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Esther Jane Hardenbergh

Second Committee Member

Stephen F. Zdzinski

Third Committee Member

Nobleza G. Pilar

Fourth Committee Member

Teresa L. Lesiuk


The purpose of this essay is to compile a list of symptoms to aid voice teachers in the early detection of vocal problems resulting from bulimic behavior. Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder characterized by bingeing and purging and has a high rate of occurrence among the college population. Entertainers form a high risk group for development of BN yet the effects of BN on the voice are largely ignored in vocal literature. The study begins with a literature review which links several factors that can influence the development of BN with "the singer’s personality." The two main character traits that appear most frequently are perfectionism and anxiety. The study continues with a narrative presentation of interviews by the author with three voice specialists in different fields of voice research and treatment. The research questions on which the interview portion of the study were based are: 1) Are otolaryngologists seeing an increase in vocal problems associated with eating disorders?; 2) Is there a belief among voice specialists that singer-actors are a high risk group for the development of eating disorders?; 3) What vocal symptoms should voice teachers watch and listen for if they suspect a student is bulimic?; 4) How should the voice teacher approach the recommendation of treatment, care, and use of the bulimic voice? This portion of the paper includes a clear and concise list of symptoms associated with BN that are easily identifiable by sight or sound. The paper concludes with a summary of the study results, suggestions for voice teachers training singers with the disorder, and ideas for further research.


voice disorders; vocal disorders; medical problems of performing artists; anorexia nervosa; acid reflux