Voice instructors, speech language pathologists, and choral directors frequently utilize semi-occluded vocal tract (SOVT) exercises in their practices. These exercises, which narrow the vocal tract above the vocal folds, have been found to reduce voicing effort while maintaining or boosting acoustic output of individual speakers and singers. Recent investigations of choirs have aligned, with choirs maintaining or increasing acoustic output after a straw phonation protocol and, in one study, singer perceptions of improved choral sound and vocal efficiency. These choral studies have taken place with traditional Western Classical-style ensembles. SOVT exercises, however, are also frequently recommended in groups that sing in other styles (e.g., barbershop), in which thousands of school and community choristers participate. Though each style may involve unique vocal techniques, no published study to date has investigated the efficacy of SOVT protocols in non-Western Classical choral ensembles. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to measure the effect of a group straw phonation protocol on acoustic and perceptual changes of conglomerate, choral sound in a male barbershop chorus. Results indicated that the group sang with 1.00 dB SPL increased spectral energy (0–10 kHz) after the straw protocol, possibly indicating a “just noticeable” difference. Most singer participants also thought the group sounded better (85.7%) and that they individually sang more efficiently (62.5%) after the protocols. These results align with previous research and may indicate that choral teacher-conductors and music teacher educators in barbershop settings could utilize SOVT exercises to improve “vocal economy” by increasing vocal output with reduced effort.

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