Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Hagstrom, Fran

Committee Member/Reader

Larry, Aslin

Committee Member/Second Reader

Hagstrom, Fran


Brain research has demonstrated that music uniquely contributes to neural functioning, but little is known about how losing the ability to produce music, which may be inherent to personal identity for professional singers, impacts quality of life. This study explored identity and music in the lives of five well-known vocal music professionals selected because they have publicly talked about the role of music in their lives via books, televised interviews, and documentaries. The careers of three of the individuals were disrupted by neurogenic disease; one lost the ability to sing after treatment for vocal nodules; and the fifth individual remains unaffected as she continues to perform. There was no actual contact as only publicly available source material (audio and video interviews, news articles, books, and social media) were used. The procedure of the study selected a balanced corpus of material that provided insight about careers before, during, and after medical disruption. Line-by-line transcripts of video and audio material were completed and added to any text materials. Narrative analysis was used to identify themes related to the self-identity of each of the professional singers at three points in their career: early, established, and post diagnosis. Major and minor themes were abstracted from the transcriptions. Cross coding for inter-rater agreement completed on 10% of the total corpus reached 94%.


music, identity, music performance, self expression, vocal surgery, neurogenic disease