Volume 8, Issue 5
Table of Contents:
A Message from the President
Letter from the Editor
VASTA Visions of the Future
Mennen Grant Announcement
Membership Survey Results
International Voice Committee Update
Diversity Committee Update
2014 London Conference Announcement
My First VASTA Conference
VASTA Regional Conference: Minnesota
Why Athletes Don't Have Tech Week
How quickly 2013 has passed! I hope during the year you were able to learn from your challenges and to find joy and inspiration in both your personal and professional lives.
As you will see, this is quite a packed newsletter. I encourage to you peruse the many interesting articles below and learn what is going on in the organization. I’d like to welcome our new editor, Keely Wolter, and wish her the best in this position.
Since I last wrote, the Board of Directors, along with a few invited guests, met in Chicago for a VASTA Vision planning session deftly led by Michael Rohd. This was the third Vision session in our history. Past President Janet Rodgers has written a lovely account of our weekend that you will find below.
You will see some new initiatives, starting next year, which blossomed from this retreat. We will be thinking about how we can deepen our already strong organization in three areas. First we want to continue to share within our VASTA circle by increasing opportunities to learn from each other’s expertise, hear one another’s stories, open conversations, provide mentorship and nurture leaders. Next we plan to expand outside our VASTA circle by making a concerted effort to learn from other fields, inviting new members in, and bringing students to conferences. Last, we want to engage with individuals and groups outside of theatre, offering our work to help empower their voices while opening ourselves to what we may learn from them in the exchange.
Look for announcements next year regarding grants to support conference attendance in fields outside of voice and theatre, a first step in expanding outside of our VASTA circle.
The London conference, spearheaded by Rena Cook and Jane Boston, is well on its way and promises to be crammed full of fascinating presentations and workshops. We hope many of you will be able to join us. If not, we hope you North Americans might be able to attend the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) conference in Scottsdale, Arizona where VASTA will also have a presence, arranged by John Graham.
A quick reminder to complete the compensation/job title survey if you have not yet done so. You can find it at the link: http://www.vasta.org/compensation-survey It does not take long as you only answer those questions that apply to you and your responses are extremely helpful to us. The more who respond, the more accurate our data and the better able we’ll be to advocate for the profession.
Many good wishes to you and I look forward to serving you in the coming year.
Hello fellow VASTAns, and welcome to the inaugural issue of my ediorship of the VASTA Voice. I very recently took over this position and am truly excited to see how many of you are eager to share news and ideas with the wider VASTA community. I would love to hear even more about who you are and what you are interested in, dear VASTAns. So let me use this opportunity to encourage you to get in touch with your ideas for articles, possible reoccurring columns, regional news, etc.
Additionally, I am currently seeking an Associate Editor. If you are someone interested in getting more involved in VASTA, or if you just like news (particularly voicey-type news), then please don’t hesitate contact me.
Wishing you all a safe and happy new year,
Editor, VASTA Voice
For the third time in VASTA’s history, a group of current and former board members and officers gathered to reflect upon past accomplishments and plan the next ten years of the VASTA story. The meeting took place at a Holiday Inn close to O’Hare Airport in Chicago during the weekend of October 5th & 6th, 2013. Eighteen board members, officers and guests took part in the two day retreat which was brilliantly facilitated by Michael Rohd. VASTA members who were not present in the room were given the opportunity to tune in via Facebook.
Now, usually the prospect of such an event makes me squirm in my chair. The thought of being sedentary for nine hours is not my idea of fun but this event was anything but sedentary and, actually, lots of fun. Using small groups for brainstorming, improvisation for presenting our ideas, and lots of writing on large pieces of paper, the hours flew by.
Starting off in small groups of 4 or less, we used an imagined ‘VASTA VALUE EXEMPLAR AWARD’ to help us articulate to one another our values for the organization. Then each group had the opportunity to present the award to an imagined individual. Our shared values began to emerge. By the time that each group had presented their award, we had a clear idea of the values upon which we have so successfully stood since our inception in 1986; empowering of the human voice, having a yearly conference, advocating for understanding the complexity of the voice, offering ourselves as role models, mentors, and peer reviewers, providing resources for VASTA members (yearly and regional conferences, tenure and promotion guidelines, bibliography, the journal and website) as well incorporating new methodologies in our teaching.
We then were tasked to think about a moment when we had been down in our professional life and had faced a challenge. This made us take a hard look at the battles that we, as voice and speech professionals, have had to fight. These improvisations added to the drama of the day and helped us to recognize the universal battles that we all have fought in our profession, i.e. championing the value of our work, negotiating with colleagues our differences in approaches to voice training, as well as educating chairs and search committees about what a voice and speech trainer really does and the varying ways in which we prepare for our careers.
We then reflected upon those practices that VASTA engages with as well as what we individually do. We recognized that individual members as well as the entire organization already do many, many things well, so on day two we looked at what we might do to help VASTA move forward so that it even more effectively might serve its membership.
The group generated a multitude of ideas including rededicating ourselves to welcoming new members to the organization and new attendees to our conferences, encouraging more democratic engagement via Facebook and other social media, and providing financial resources to encourage members to reach out to their individual communities via workshops and community service. It is now up to the VASTA Officers and Board of Directors to prioritize and help the membership to activate these ideas.
In the end we agreed that uniformity of training is not our goal as an organization. We exist to support our membership as creative, innovative voice and speech trainers.
Janet B. Rodgers
VASTA Past President and Board Member
The VASTA Awards and Grants Committee, is pleased to announce that the 2013 Dorothy Mennen Research /Development Grant recipients are Michelle Lopez-Rios and Dawn Sadoway.
Michelle Lopez-Rios is an associate professor of theatre at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. This grant will partially support her research, development and performance at international venues of her one-woman show, 500 Years. This project involves Michelle’s long-range research of the Latino Voice.
Dawn Sadoway is an assistant professor of fine arts at St. Thomas University, Canada. This grant will partially support her research project entitled, The Language of Teaching Voice (A Qualitative Study Advancing the Scholarship of Teaching Voice). The purpose of this research is to examine the effectiveness of imagistic and/or scientific language for improving student/client outcomes in the voice studio, the SLP clinic, and in performance.
The Awards and Grants Committee wishes to commend all of the applicants for bringing to our attention high quality research and professional development endeavors. The Committee wishes all of them successful completion.
Judylee Vivier and Cynthia Bassham, on behalf of the Board, conducted a survey earlier this year to learn more about the makeup of the membership. Nearly half of the membership participated (233). Here is a snapshot of the results:
18-25: (3%), 26-35:(15%), 36-45: (23%), 46-55: (27%), 56 and above: (33%).
Current career status:
Student: (3%), Early (beginning): (24%), Mid-career (established): (51%)
Late (nearing retirement): (16%), Retired: (less than 1%), Other: (5%).
“Other” predominantly referred to either hybrid categories or combinations of two or more different careers. Several mentioned that though they would consider themselves late in their careers, retirement might not be desired, or a viable option, any time soon.
Current career description:
Please note that throughout the survey in the upcoming categories, many people indicated “other” and then implied or stated that a category did not apply to them. Though this skews the results, it became challenging to consistently weed these responses out and so these presented results were not changed to reflect this.
Professional Theatre: Voice/Dialect/Text Director (184 respondents)
Full-time: (24%), Part-time: (29%), Occasional: (41%), Other: (9%).
Private Practice: Voice/Speech/Dialect (group or individual)
Full-time: (12%), Part-time: (42%), Occasional: (46%), Other: (4%).
Private Practice: Corporate/Media (102 respondents)
Full-time: (11%), Part-time: (28%), Occasional: (60%), Other: (5%).
Private Practice: Speech and Language Pathologist
(25 respondents, 11% of total)
Full-time: (8%), Part-time: (36%), Occasional: (2%), Other: (36%).
Medical Facility: Speech and Language Pathologist
(17 respondents, 7% of total)
Full-time: (0%), Part-time: (24%), Occasional: (18%), Other: (59%).
Level of Students
Grade School (primary/secondary):
(30 respondents, 13% of total)
Ages 5-10: (50%), Ages 11-13: (50%), Ages 14-18: (87%).
(194 respondents, 83% of total)
Undergraduate: (89%), Graduate: (53%).
Is teaching voice and/or speech your primary focus?
(208 respondents, 89% of total)
Yes: (66%), No: (34%).
For those who wrote, “no,” the primary focus predominantly included acting, directing, singing, and/or movement. Arts administration, public speaking, humanities, and voice rehabilitation were also mentioned.
Details about education/academia position
Primary/Secondary Schools or Programs (28 respondents, 12% of total)
Full-time teacher: (21%), Part-time teacher: (46%), Other: (39%).
College/Post-Secondary Schools or Programs (156 respondents, 67% of total)
Full-time teacher: (56%), Part-time teacher: (14%), Adjunct: (25%), Other: (8%)
Acting/Music Conservatory (63 respondents, 27% of total)
Full-time teacher: (35%), Part-time teacher: (35%), Adjunct: (21%), Other: (13%)
Non-academic acting/voice studios
(82 respondents, 35% of total)
Full-time teacher: (1%), Part-time teacher: (52%), Occasional: (43%),
(169 respondents, 73% of total)
Tenured Full Professor (or equivalent): (13%), Tenured Associate Professor (or equivalent): (23%), Tenure-Track (or equivalent): (17%), Full-time (non Tenure-Track): (11%), Adjunct: (20%), Part-time: (8%), Other: (9%).
“Other” often included combinations of positions. Guest, Honorary, and Visiting categories were also mentioned.
It’s clear that many of us have varied and complicated careers that don’t neatly fit into the categories we provided. 53 people (23% of total) felt that the above categories didn’t sufficiently capture their career and so offered additional descriptors.
Have you attended VASTA Conferences?
(226 responses, 97% of total)
Attended three or more: (35%), Attended one or two: (31%), Never: (35%).
Thanks to all who participated!!!
Hello, my name is Gary Horner and I am currently chair of VASTA’s International Voice Committee. You may not have heard of us yet, but hopefully you will in the near future. We started out earlier this year with a small select group of VASTA members, all of whom were outside America. Our aim is to make connections with individuals and organizations focused on voice around the world in order to better exchange ideas, training, and information. We want to broaden our perspectives, have lively discussions on discoveries, issues and methods, and be exposed to innovations and artistry. We have begun to take steps to introduce the international voice world to the world of VASTA, and within in the next year we should be aiming to set up a blog, deliver experiential workshops in conjunction with other voice bodies, and generally make the VASTA experience more inclusive and accessible to the worldwide market. If you have any questions or ideas, please get in touch.
All the best,
First, the Diversity Committee is proud to announce the 2014 VASTA Conference Diversity Scholarship. VASTA will offer one $500 Scholarship to an early career voice practitioner from an under-represented community to attend the VASTA Conference in London. VASTA as an organization values the benefit of hearing the voices and ideas of a diverse group of practitioners. This scholarship will provide an opportunity for a practitioner from an under-served population to attend this important VASTA event.
This scholarship is intended for someone who is a(n):
• Member of an under-represented community. This includes, but is not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexual orientation, and gender identification.
• Early career voice practitioner. This may include someone at the end of their graduate studies, a freelance practitioner, adjunct professor (tenure-track professors are not encouraged to apply).
• Person who has not yet attended a VASTA conference.
Applicants for the Diversity Scholarship should submit the following:
1. A 2-page condensed C.V. (with contact info).
2. An essay which expresses your self-identification as a member of a diverse community and how attending the conference would benefit your practice and career.
Please Note: Applicants need not be a current VASTA member.
Please submit your materials in .doc or .pdf format via e-mail to:
Michelle Lopez-Rios email@example.com by the March 30, 2014 deadline.
Second, the Diversity Committee is proud to present the first “Identity Cabaret” at the VASTA 2014 Conference - Voicing the Future: Re-inventing Traditions! This is a performance opportunity for individuals to share a song, poem, monologue, or section of a play that celebrates your heritage, culture, background or identity. For further information, please see the 2014 London Conference Announcement below.
Finally, we are committed to continuing the discussion on diversity issues in the VASTAVoice. As chair of the VASTA diversity committee, I invite anyone to contribute to this column! Please consider sharing your work, practices, and ideas on diversity in the next newsletter. We welcome and encourage you to contact us! Send thoughts, ideas and questions to Michelle Lopez-Rios firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Voice and Speech Trainers Association is excited to announce that its 2014 conference will be held at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, August 5-9, 2014. The theme of the conference is Voicing the Future: Reinventing Traditions. The key note presenters include David and Ben Crystal and their popular work with Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation (OP). Voice practitioner and Head of the MA in Voice Studies and International Centre for Voice at Central, Jane Boston, and leading Mind/Body practitioner, Patricia Bardi, are excited to share the research they have been doing about the perception of sound in relation to the expressive body/voice in action. In addition, Paul Meier will share his experiences using OP; Leticia Santafé will present her work on the synthesis of Linklater and Body Mind Centering; voice teacher and speech and language therapist, Christina Shewell, will share her work on the merger of art and science in the training of the voice based on her book Voice Work: Art and Science in Changing Voices. Actress, Fiona Shaw will open the conference and share her experiences of working with voice and poetic language. We are extremely delighted to announce that Kristin Linklater and Catherine Fitzmaurice will be joining us as they share their thoughts on the future trends in research and voice practice. In addition, Cicely Berry has graciously consented to attend as we honor her for her immense contribution to the world of voice and text.
Member presentations will of course play a key role. Proposal forms are available at www.vasta.org/conference. We anticipate many presenters from both sides of the pond!
An exciting new feature of the VASTA 2014 Conference - Voicing the Future: Reinventing Traditions - will be the Identity Cabaret! This is a performance opportunity for individuals to share a song, a poem, a monologue, or section of a play that celebrates your heritage, culture, background or identity. It will be hosted by Fran Bennet and organized by Michelle Lopez-Rios. Performances should be no longer than five minutes. A mic and a piano will be available. This will take place during happy hour, 5-6:30 on an evening of the conference yet to be determined. Contact Michelle at email@example.com for questions or sign up. We want to make this a vital part of the conference and an annual event, please join us.
Though the schedule will be packed, other than the welcome reception and keynote on August 5, all evenings will be free for theatre going.
As an early career Voice and Speech instructor, I came to VASTA when my voice mentor, Judith Shahn, recommended I attend the 2013 conference in Minneapolis. When I decided to attend, she then asked if I might have any interest in co-leading a workshop at the conference with herself and another distinguished voice instructor, Claudia Anderson. Judy continued to explain that the theme of the VASTA conference would be “Voices of Wisdom: Spanning Generations.” The focus would be on bringing voice instructors of all ages together, mentors and mentees, and to help welcome new members into the VASTA community. As someone brand new to the world of VASTA this felt like a wonderful invitation to join the organization, and a great way to meet other individuals I might not usually get to meet in this specialized field.
Over the next few months I submitted my online conference registration, solidified a hotel room in Minneapolis, and Judy, Claudia and I collaborated on our workshop proposal. The name of our workshop was to be “Sing Together- Through the Generations.” The proposal was submitted and I anxiously awaited its approval. A few weeks later we got the email that we were approved and so my excited anticipation for the conference began!
July came quickly and before I knew it I was boarding a plane from Seattle to Minneapolis. From the moment I stepped into the Aloft hotel to register with our conference director, Alison Vasquez, I could feel the lobby vibrating as voice teachers both seasoned and fresh faced began to arrive. As we all made our way over to the Guthrie Theatre for a beautiful tribute to Dudley Knight, followed by a warm conference welcome from VASTA President Mandy Rees, I knew I was now a part of something special. I had only been in Minneapolis for a couple of hours and already I was meeting and making new friends and potential colleagues in the voice world.
The warm welcome from the Guthrie continued. As part of our conference experience, that night we had the opportunity to attend a performance of either Pride and Prejudice or Clybourne Park at the Guthrie Theatre. This again was a wonderful way to meet other conference attendees and get to know more about our conference location.
The next few days were rich with workshops offered by VASTA members from around the world. I attended workshops with themes spanning from “Welcome to the Minnesota Accent,” “Alexander Technique: Shoulders, Hips, and Breath,” “Mentor Relationships: Connecting and Collaborating,” “Coaching the Corporate Client,” “Vocal Pedagogy for Film and TV,” and “Different Generations, Ethnicities, Life Journeys… Intersecting.” Each workshop lasted about 45 minutes in length. I was amazed with the generosity of the workshop leaders and their willingness to share their work, research, and experiences with the group. This brought a true feeling of collaboration and support to each day. Like a sponge, I tried to soak up everything!
Additionally, each workshop day began with a voice warm up at 8 AM. When Alison shared she was still looking for members to lead voice warm ups later in the conference I decided to volunteer. I was surprisingly nervous about the “Sing Together” workshop I was co-leading on the final day of the conference. I felt that leading a voice warm up for fellow VASTA members the day before might help break the ice, and that it did! I was in awe that Fran Bennett, Andrea Haring, Claudia Anderson, Judith Shahn, Amy Hume and other esteemed members of the VASTA community all came to support a new VASTA member at 8 AM. I truly felt the theme “Voices of Wisdom-Spanning Generations” come to reality in that 45 minute session. The level of support in the room, as I nervously led my first Linklater focused VASTA warm up was palpable, and to those able to attend I am very grateful.
Another true highlight of the conference were the workshops given by our Master Presenters. Ken Washington (Director of Company Development at the Guthrie), with the support of D’Arcy Smith (resident voice coach at the Guthrie), led a wonderful workshop on the history of the Guthrie Theatre. This was followed by a Q and A session focusing on the role of voice in a BFA actor-training program. Andrea Haring, Designated Master Linklater Voice instructor, led an original workshop inspired by her experience working with Michael Chekhov and Kristin Linklater’s work. During the workshop Andrea shared her own work in which she highlighted the power of imagery in voice and acting. Lastly, Andrew Wade, who was head of voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company, took conference participants on a journey by exploring the relationship of the voice with text and the need for changing resonance in various theatre spaces. On the final day of the conference Andrea and Andrew collaborated on a workshop that brought both of their workshop themes together for conference participants to experience an even deeper exploration of the work.
As the conference drew to a close, it was finally time for Judy, Claudia, and I to share our “Sing Together-Through the Generations” workshop. Celebrating the fact that anyone can sing, we proceeded to take turns leading various songs for the group. At this point all the conference attendees had become quite close. My nerves immediately melted away as sounds of joy began to resonate throughout the Wurtle Theatre and the empty spaces filled with our collective singing voices.
When I think back on my first conference experience, just 5 months ago, I am so grateful for the “Voices of Wisdom-Spanning Generations” theme. As a new member to the world of VASTA, I felt welcomed and supported as part of the Voice and Speech teacher community. The connections and opportunities to collaborate with members of VASTA have continued. Especially now, having begun my MFA in Voice Studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England I am anxiously awaiting the 2014 conference. I am eager to start volunteering as planning for the conference begins, and I hope to welcome other new members to the VASTA community with the same warmth and openness the Minneapolis conference brought me.
*If you are new to VASTA and nervous (or on the fence) about attending the 2014 conference in London please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building off of the summer conference, the Guthrie Theater once again played host for a VASTA sponsored one-day conference.
Key presenter Kristin Linklater led 16 attendees in a lively and engaging vocal warm-up and followed it up by integrating the voice work into text. This visit marked Kristin’s first visit to the new Guthrie. The afternoon offered a dynamic experience including workshops and lectures on teaching voice and singing (Mira Kehoe), using the humors to explore Shakespeare’s text (John McManus), breath training for on-camera actors (Amy Chafee), the Yat Dialect (Foster Johns), and an introduction to Knight/Thompson Speech Work (Joe Papke). While most of the participants were from the twin cities area, others came from Pennsylvania, Chicago and LA.
Thank you to all VASTAns who made the journey to Minneapolis and many thanks to VASTA for sponsoring the event!
Resident Voice Coach – The Guthrie Theater
Lecturer of Voice and Speech - University of Minnesota
At long last, the VSR is coming online! Some of you may remember the announcement at the Washington DC conference in 2012 that plans had been set to move the VSR from its 2-year publication cycle to a faster, leaner, tri-annual online publication cycle. This is finally happening, and new content is available on the VSR page at our new publisher’s site even as I write this. This is great news, and represents over a year of work on the part of the VSR’s editorial staff and the Board and Officers of VASTA. There have been setbacks, and it’s taken longer than we expected, but we can now experience the benefits of the new model.
The most immediate benefits to our members are: All of the VSR’s back content—every article and issue since 2000—is now available at the touch of a button or click of a mouse, even on your phone. We have four new articles and will soon have more. All articles are available for free until the end of the year for everyone, and after that will be free for all current members. They are readily available for reading online or download as a PDF. Members will enjoy other benefits and freebies from Routledge—more news on that in a later issue, but one of these is an annual bound, hardcopy volume of the year’s three issues. These will ship in late August for any member who is paid up by the first of July. Members will be able to read more new content more frequently, and authors will also no longer need to wait two years until a piece is published. We now accept articles on a rolling basis, instead of once every two years. Deadlines for timely submission for each issue will be published, but we encourage you to submit at any time, or to contact me or any of the associate editors to discuss ideas—it’s always possible there will be space in an issue and time enough to edit and get a late submission published on a short calendar. As always, contact me at email@example.com with queries, ideas, and complete drafts.
The larger benefit that we foresee, and one of the biggest reasons we made the move to an online publication with a globally respected publisher, is that this publication format will encourage others besides VASTA members to read the VSR. This is already happening, but one of the best ways to utilize our new global reach is through you. Please publicize the VSR whenever you have a chance—circulate the links and web addresses to friends and colleagues; if you have published an article, and especially if you use it in class, please encourage your library to subscribe so that your students can view the journal for free. Link to the VSR or individual articles on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, whatever the new one is that I probably don’t know about. Get excited. Spread the word, spread the word, spread the good word!
Please visit the VSR online at Routledge/Taylor & Francis at:
or follow links from the VSR page at the VASTA website:
Cut and paste, email, embed and distribute these links!
The heightened vocal demands of classic drama, choral singing, musical theater, and opera are sometimes referred to as "vocal athletics." But if vocal performers were truly treated like athletes, final rehearsal schedules might turn upside down. Rather than accelerating to opening night, athletes in endurance sports typically rest more and workout less as the Big Day approaches.
Speaking at the June 2013 Symposium on Care of the Professional Voice, Mary M. Gorham-Rowan, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Disorders and Sciences at Valdosta State University, GA (and an athlete herself), contrasted this tapered training schedule to the increased hours of singing often expected before a choral performance. In collaboration with Dr. Karl Paoletti, from the Dept. of Music at VSU, and Dr. Richard Morris from Florida State University, she'd undertaken a research project comparing the two regimens, and had interesting results to share.
A group of 10 women choral singers followed a tapering, stepped-down rehearsal schedule prior to a major concert, while a control group rehearsed on the normal schedule (increased singing in the final days). Acoustic, laryngoscopic, and self-perception questionnaires were used to assess vocal status in both groups, at several points before and after the performance. Later in the semester, with a second concert looming, the groups switched so that all singers were eventually tested in both routines.
Preliminary results showed that some choristers on the tapered schedule developed less vocal fatigue than their classmates on the traditional schedule. The most important variable seemed to be the singers’ individual levels of experience: those with least training benefitted most from the tapered schedule.
As Dr. Gorham-Rowan commented to me via email, “perhaps tapering is more beneficial for those individuals who are [still] learning to use their mechanism appropriately.” In her view, both singers and athletes with less training are more likely to incorporate maladaptive behaviors as they fatigue, and are thus more prone to injury.
She concludes: “tapering may be more important for those in the early stages of training. … Everyone fears that they haven't done enough to be ready for the big day—but more work is generally not beneficial and can often be detrimental. It was especially interesting to note that while we didn't notice a clear-cut pattern for tapering, neither was there a clear pattern for improvement after a rigorous practice schedule pre-performance... the data do not support the current practice of increasing rehearsal time prior to a performance.”
These findings indicate that, especially in secondary schools, undergraduate, or non-professional settings, vocal performers might do better on opening night if “hell week” were replaced by shorter warm ups, cue-to-cue run-throughs, 'marking' of songs, and other lower-demand strategies, instead of the "It's still not right, so do it all again, full-out!" approach. Give the kids a break, and look for more research to come!
VASTA Board of Directors & Officers
Michael J. Barnes
Guy William Molnar
Tara McAllister Viel
Joanna Battles & Tamara Meneghini
©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association