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BOOK REVIEW: SINGING THROUGH CHANGE: WOMEN’S VOICES IN MIDLIFE, MENOPAUSE, AND BEYOND

When we think about Menopause we often think about the physiological symptoms - hot flushes, insomnia, and mood swings. But Menopause also comes with psychological symptoms (including loss of memory; loss of confidence; and lack of mental clarity) and vocal changes (like difficulties with upper register; loss of breath support and stamina; and loss of flexibility and agility).


When I did my research Menopause: The effects on the ageing female classical singer 78% of my participants reported that they had experienced vocal changes as a result of Menopause.


But the truth is we don’t really know how many women are affected by vocal changes during Menopause.


This is mostly because many women are not aware that vocal changes are a symptom of Menopause, or don’t want to admit they are experiencing problems, or just don’t want to openly discuss it in fear of losing their careers.


The biggest problem is that there is a huge lack of awareness amongst professional and amateur singing communities of the impact hormonal changes have on our voices. Research in this field is gaining traction but the results and findings are largely inaccessible to the everyday singer.


Singing through Change: Women’s Voices in Midlife, Menopause, and Beyond is the first book to address the struggles and bridge the gap between academics and the general singer.

 

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Singing through Change | Book Review | Rebecca Reid Vocal Studio | York
 

ABOUT SINGING THROUGH CHANGE


Singing through Change: Women’s Voices in Midlife, Menopause, and Beyond is the product of the collaboration of three singers and singing teachers: Nancy Bos, Joanne Bozeman, and Cate Frazier-Neely who desperately wanted answers about how to deal with vocal changes during Menopause.


Over a 2-year period, they conducted 56 interviews with women from all backgrounds and genres who openly discussed their careers, medical histories, challenges, and journeys to continue to sing through Menopause. 


The authors have presented their findings in a non-academic and informal approach, which allows the reader to feel informed yet connected to the experiences and journeys of the authors and interviewees as they seek answers.

 

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK


As a researcher in this field, what I love most about this book is how the authors have identified a need and brought awareness to those outside academic circles of the vocal challenges women face during Menopause.


I cannot count how many mature students and businesswomen I’ve spoken to that have no idea that their voices (and their careers) are being impacted by vocal changes during midlife.


With this book, the authors have skillfully interwoven the science behind and delivered it in an easily digestible way. I think this is wonderful as it supports the reader but doesn’t overwhelm them.


I love how this book highlights that each of our journeys is different. There is no one size fits all solution - which is so true!


The women in this book have taken action by seeking medical help, taking singing lessons, Alexander Technique lessons and even taken up horse riding, Tai Chi and Qigong to help them overcome their vocal problems and keep singing.


 

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK


Annoyingly and honestly there’s not a lot I don’t like about this book.


For years I tried to figure out a way to take the results from my research and present it in a non-academic way that would bring awareness and solutions to singers suffering with vocal changes BUT these authors beat me to it!


If I’m being picky, I would have liked it if the book had an index. As a singing teacher who works primarily with midlife singers, an index would have been a great feature to dip in and out of as a go-to resource, and much easier to refer specific sections to students as and when they apply.


As it is I have to try and remember the page numbers.


I would have also liked to see more of the current and existing bodies of research to support certain topics discussed. Research in this field is fairly limited but there were a couple (in my opinion) of key studies missed out.

 

WHY I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK


I highly recommend this book to singers of all levels, genres, and abilities, as well as to singing teachers working either in a 1-2-1 capacity or in the community with choirs.


If you have yet to experience menopause, this book will provide you with an insight into not only the vocal challenges midlife women experience but also the physiological and psychological impact of midlife and menopause, which are so closely intertwined.


BUT If you’re expecting an instruction manual you won’t find it here.


This book is purely highlighting the vast array and severity of vocal symptoms and documents how each singer approached and overcame their challenge. You’ll get the most out of this book if you take away the key message.

 

The key take away from this book should be that if you’re noticing or suffering from vocal changes during midlife you are not alone and this-is-not-the-end.


As I said, 78% of women I surveyed experienced vocal difficulties during and after Menopause - which is a lot! AND as one interviewee said:


“It takes relearning, retraining, and effort.”

There is hope if you’re willing to take action. 


During my current research, one of my interviewees said that now that she’s working on overcoming her vocal difficulties she’s singing better than when she was at the peak of her career.


But remember, there is no one-size-fits all strategy.


Your menopause journey is unique and so is your vocal changes. How you overcome those challenges is unique and best suited to what works best for you. 


This book will give you tools and ideas to get started exploring and experimenting to rediscover your voice.


BUT most importantly of all - don’t stop singing!

 



And don't forget to grab your freebie:

The Ultimate Vocal Health Guide

- a 14-day plan to help you improve your voice!




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