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Velopharyngeal Insufficiency in Woodwind and Brass Players


Copyright 2024, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Schwab, B.
Journal Title: Medical Problems of Performing Artists
Date Published: Mar-04
Language: English
Category: Orofacial Disorders
Key Words: medical woodwind brass instrument musician throat
Full Citation: Schwab, B., and A. Schultze-Florey. Velopharyngeal Insufficiency in Woodwind and Brass Players. Medical Problems of Performing Artists 19, no. 1 (March 2004): 21-5.
Full Abstract: A study was undertaken to determine the extent to which velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) is a problem for woodwind and brass musicians. Intraoral pressure measurements were performed to determine pressure peaks, mean pressure, and maximum attainable pressures. Of the pool of 148 symphony orchestra professionals and student musicians, 81 were aware of VPI and 24 showed symptoms; six reported that VPI occurred in association with colds, stress, or the playing of extremely high notes. One musician noted that VPI occurred only on return from vacation. Of the symptom-free musicians, 15% reported that they noticed symptoms of VPI during their training, but that these gradually dissipated. Despite reports in the medical literature that predominantly young musicians are affected, only 47% of symptomatic participants in this study were music students (41% of the subjects). Oboists and clarinetists were the most frequently affected, perhaps because they develop relatively high mean pressures. Music instructors are advised to perform pressure measurements during instruction.