“You brought me back.” When Carol Krusemark ’90 MA heard those words, she knew she’d gotten another professional singer back to the stage. In this case, the pandemic and lengthy time away from singing had caused the vocalist to lose her original singing style. Krusemark, a voice pathologist and singing specialist at the Mass General Voice Center, used movement and vocal exercises to distract her from the mechanics of singing — which resulted in regained function.
Patients often need voice recovery due to trauma, such as surgical damage or cancer. One young man had been exposed to a noxious gas, which scarred his lungs and vocal folds. “His voice got ‘stuck’ in a strained whisper,” Krusemark says. “This impacted his ability to work, his closest emotional relationships, and how he viewed himself.”
She says the blueprint for finding ways to treat a diverse array of patient needs comes from her time in UConn’s Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and the general environment on campus.
“If I don’t quite know it yet, I can learn it. I gained that from UConn,” says Krusemark, who started out as a performer. Early in her career she sang with companies like North Bay Opera in California and Pfalztheater in Germany. She still sings in community theater and teaches vocal pedagogy at New England Conservatory. “Singing is still a really big part of my life,” she says. “What I like about my job is I’ve been able to combine my love of singing with speech pathology and voice rehabilitation.”
When therapy sessions end, Krusemark wants patients to become their own voice therapists. “My whole job is essentially making sure patients no longer need me — that they can manage their voices without help,” she says. “Five former clients have chosen to pursue degrees in speech therapy with a specialization in voice therapy after our work together. For me, there is no higher compliment.”
By brian hudgins