Working with Muscle Tension in Singers
with Leda Scearce
Tuesday 2nd November 2021 at 6-8pm (UK time)

This course will be recorded and sent out to all pre-registered participants to watch in their own time.
Due to licensing laws, we are unable to sell this course retrospectively.

Course Details

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is a voice disorder in which the patient presents with altered vocal quality and/or function that is determined to be a result of maladaptive, inefficient coordination of the vocal system. Although laryngeal examination often reveals significant tension of the muscles in and surrounding the larynx, the maladaptive tension can often include the articulators, muscles of the neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, and/or lower body. The MTD may be primary, in which no structural abnormalities are found in the larynx, or secondary, in which the muscle tension arises as a compensation for an underlying laryngeal pathology. As a functional voice disorder, MTD is most optimally managed by a speech-language pathologist or speech-language therapist.

However, most singers will experience some form or degree of maladaptive muscle tension during their training as a part of normal development of vocal technique. The singing teacher is often the first person to identify the muscle tension. How do the singing teacher and SLP/SLT determine when muscle tension is part of normal acquisition of technique and when it crosses the line into pathology?

In this workshop, the presenter will explore these and other questions, as well as strategies for reducing maladaptive muscle tension in the studio and clinic.


  1. Untying the Knot
    1. What is Muscle Tension Dysphonia?
    2. How is MTD treated?
    3. When is muscle tension a “normal” part of developing singing technique and when is it a disorder?
    4. Appropriate referral patterns between vocal health care providers and singing teachers/voice trainers.
  2. Clinical interventions
    1. Manual therapy models
    2. Relaxation and stretching exercises
    3. Rehabilitative vocal exercises
    4. Medical treatments
  • Strategies and exercises for addressing muscle tension in the studio or clinic
    1. Core stability and anchoring the larynx
    2. Tongue tension
    3. Jaw tension
    4. Laryngeal tension
    5. Upper body tension
    6. Abdominal tension
  1. Case Studies

About Leda Scearce

Leda Scearce, MM, MS, CCC-SLP


Clinical Singing Voice Specialist

Clinical Associate Faculty, Duke University School of Medicine

Director of Community Engagement, Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

Director of Performing Voice Programs and Development, Duke Voice Care Center

Soprano Leda Scearce has been featured in leading roles with the National Opera Company, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Long Leaf Opera Festival, Triangle Opera, the Ohio Light Opera Company and Whitewater Opera Company, and has appeared as concert soloist with orchestras including the North Carolina, Toledo and Honolulu Symphonies.   An active proponent of new music, Ms. Scearce has given world premiere performances of works written for her with the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Nashville, Mallarme Chamber Players, the American Chamber Music Festival and Chamber Music Hawaii.  A winner of the Birmingham Opera Vocal Competition, Ms. Scearce has also been a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Ms. Scearce is a graduate of Indiana University with both bachelors and masters degrees in vocal performance.

A voice teacher for over 30 years, Ms. Scearce has served on the artist faculties of Bowling Green State University, Meredith College, Brigham Young University of Hawaii and the University of Southern Maine.

Ms. Scearce obtained the Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University, where she completed an internship in voice disorders and voice rehabilitation for the performing voice at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.  She is currently a Clinical Singing Voice Specialist at the Duke Voice Care Center, where she provides rehabilitation therapy to singers, actors and other vocal performers with voice injuries.  Ms. Scearce is the author of Singing Voice Rehabilitation: A Practical Approach to Vocal Health and Wellness, published by Plural, Inc.  She is a frequent speaker on the topic of the singing voice at national and international voice conferences, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Voice Foundation, National Association of Teachers of Singing, the International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, the Pan American Vocology Association, the Fall Voice Conference, the Northwest Voice Conference, the Utah Performing Voice Conference, the National Center for Voice and Speech, and the McIver Lecture in Vocal Pedagogy.  She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and is a founding member of the Pan American Vocology Association for which she currently served as President from 2017-2019.

  •  “…a gorgeous voice in all registers…Her bel canto singing is exquisite…clear and gem-like…a force to be reckoned with.”—Bloomington Herald Telephone
  • “The finest voice of the night belonged to Leda …Every note from her was perfectly formed and of a lovely quality.”—Honolulu Advertiser
  • “…her lovely soprano delights.”—Greensboro News and Record
  • “…a marvelous singer with impeccable diction and superb acting skills.”—Spectator Magazine

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