KU Vocology Lab

A male presenting person is wearing headphones and listening while a female presenting person uses test equipment attached to the headphones

The School of Music Vocology Laboratory is an integral component of our programs in choral pedagogy and voice pedagogy, both of which offer opportunities to explore ongoing dialogue among musicians and voice science experts, in addition to honing superb teaching, conducting, performing, and musicological skills. The Lab affords state-of-the-art resources for research-based approaches to real-world singing contexts and has both stationary and mobile capabilities. 

The stationary lab contains space for acquiring voice data in a controlled environment, along with workstations for individual and small group tutoring. Among its equipment and resources to date are: KayPentax Computerized Speech Laboratory hardware and software; Electroglottography (EGG) hardware and software; 2 PC laptop computers and 2 Mac laptop computers equipped with Multi-Speech, Voce Vista, digital editing, and other software programs; 2 Ambulatory Phonation Monitors; An array of high quality, condenser microphones, both head-mounted and freestanding, with both omnidirectional and cardioid polar patterns; a professional Tascam DA1 Digital Audio Tape recorder; 2 portable Edirol R-09 stereo field recorders; 4 Etymotic Dosimeters; An Audiometer; Voce Vista software license for KU students and faculty; Sound level meter; and a library of resources, including books, journals, videos, and anatomical models. 

The Vocology Lab is situated in a suite of research facilities in the Division of Music Education and Music Therapy. This location permits flexible and creative expansion, as needed, for particular research projects. A fully-equipped recording studio, a Continuous Recording Digital Interface (CRDI) equipped room, and both large and small research areas are in the suite, most linked by two-way mirrored interfaces. 

The Vocology Lab also provides flexibly equipped mobile configurations for use in voice studios, choir rehearsal areas, and both public and private school music classrooms. Graduate students in choral and vocal pedagogy, along with KU faculty, regularly use such mobile configurations for field-based, singing voice data acquisition. 

Upon approval of a graduate faculty advisor and the University Human Subjects Committee, graduate students in vocal and choral pedagogy may design and carry out investigations that require laryngeal examinations. Such examinations are performed by cooperating laryngologists from the KU Medical Center and the Kansas Voice Center. 

In each of these ways, the Vocology Laboratory supports KU School of Music graduate students and faculty who are engaged in examining and contributing to the professional knowledge base of choral conductors and voice teachers. Our emphasis is upon habilitative voice, that is, exploration of ways that voice teachers and choir directors with deep knowledge of vocal anatomy, physiology, and acoustics can investigate and implement teaching and rehearsal protocols that contribute to efficient, healthy vocal production among their students. 

The technology and research capacities available through the Vocology Laboratory can never take the place of inspired, musical voice teaching and choral conducting by highly experienced practitioners. But they can play a significant role in enabling voice teachers and choir directors to fulfill one of the most ancient injunctions about working with the human beings in their care: "First, do no harm." Current availability of highly sophisticated tools and resources can help voice and choral pedagogues by assisting them to gain evidence-based knowledge of how human voices actually work and function in various singing contexts, rather than relying solely upon bequeathed anecdotal or metaphorical understandings that may or may not be accurate. Throughout history, voice teachers and choir directors have employed available technologies and resources to assist their teaching, from the humble mirror to printed charts and scores, the piano, the choir riser, and the personal computer. At KU, twenty-first-century technologies and understandings join that historied tradition.

For more information about the Ph.D. and M.M.E. emphases in choral pedagogy and voice pedagogy, visit Choral and Voice Pedagogy at KU. Should you have further questions, please contact Melissa Grady, associate professor of music education and music therapy at mgrady@ku.edu or 785-864-9637.

A male presenting person, wearing glasses is working at a computer monitor
Female presenting person singing into a microphone while being recorded with computer equipment by a male presenting person
A hearing check is being performed in a lab setting between two people