Wednesday, August 5

Lecture (Wellness)

  • Colburn School, Thayer Hall 200 S Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA, 90012 United States

Stress Velopharyngeal Incompetence and Wind Players

Presenter: Abigail Black

Stress Velopharyngeal Incompetence (SVPI) is a specific form of velopharyngeal dysfunction. SVPI is the unwanted coupling of the oral and nasal cavities while brass musicians play their instruments. It occurs when the velopharyngeal mechanism, or the soft palate, is required to maintain a tight seal between the oral and nasal cavities in a non-speech situation involving significantly elevated air pressure in the oral cavity.

“Velo” comes from the word “velum”, referring to the soft palate. Pharyngeal comes from “pharynx,” or the throat. In other words, air escapes through the nose while exhaling through the mouth. Symptoms of SVPI include air leaking through the nose while playing an instrument and nasal sounds while playing an instrument. Unfortunately this problem is often left undiagnosed so there are very few case studies on it. This disorder can deter a wind player’s musical career or end a career prematurely.

I have SVPI and have undergone medical (surgical) treatments and modifications to my approach to brass playing to rectify this condition. My presentation will cover how the disability negatively impacts brass playing, the causes of SVPI, how to seek medical treatment, potential treatment options, videos (including my own) of brass players with air leaks, and how to help a student who is struggling with SVPI.