Saturday, July 12, 2014
The other big project that has been going on this winter is the Singing Through Menopause Survey. On Sataloff’s recommendation, I got the survey approved by the Princeton Institutional Review Board and enlisted the help of the Princeton Survey Research Center. Everyone I worked with in both offices was wonderful. After getting feedback from a number of my voice teacher colleagues, I launched the online survey in early March – hard to believe with everything else that was going on then!!! It was featured on the NATS website and I sent out almost 200 email invitations to friends and colleagues. I also arranged to bring the survey to the NATS conference in Boston.
Overall, the whole project has been incredibly rewarding. Old friends I hadn’t been in touch with for years wrote to me with greetings and news. People I didn’t know at all wrote to me to share their menopause difficulties and thank me for doing this research. The few other folks who have done some work in this area got in touch to share their research. As I read the survey responses, I was moved, heartbroken, inspired and comforted all at once: I’m not imagining this, and I’m certainly not alone. That is really what most folks want to hear. Many women said they felt alone and frustrated at the lack of information and help available. Maybe this project can help to address those issues for other female singers. Obviously, everyone goes through this one way or another.
The conference in Boston was fantastic. I printed up 100 flyers to distribute and paid extra for internet access during the poster paper sessions each day. Over 30 women took the survey during three days, I think more took it after they got home. Given that there were almost 900 people at the conference and probably half of them were women over 50, I wish I had been able to get more participants. As usual for these things, there was too much all going on at once, and you couldn’t see everything that was offered. Given the amount of time and money I had to invest, I was really pleased with the responses I got and the interactions I had with old and new friends. Of course once women were given permission to talk about this topic, they had a lot to say – about acid reflux, about diet, about HRT, about what it takes, mentally, physically and emotionally, to stay in shape, or not. (When we were younger, all we talked about was allergies and phlegm.) I came away from the conference energized, inspired, and hopeful that this project will contribute something useful and helpful to our community. It certainly has already helped me as I go through this challenging transition period. Now I have to analyze the data and write something about it.