Volume 8, Issue 3
Table of Contents:
A Message from the President
From the Editor
VASTA Conference 2013 Update
Information About Changes to the Voice & Speech Review
VASTA Conference to Offer CEUs
Will the Affordable Healthcare Act Help Voice Professionals
A Commitment to Diversity
I hope many of you will be able to join us at our upcoming conference in Minneapolis July 28th to August 1st. Our theme, Voices of Wisdom: Spanning Generations, was inspired by the Stone Arch Bridge across the Mississippi River which is easily seen from the Guthrie Theater. Even if you won’t be there, I hope the theme of spanning generations may inspire you to connect with other members.
There is much wisdom in the VASTA ranks, proved daily on VASTAvox and celebrated at our conferences and in the Voice and Speech Review. We may easily relate and benefit from connecting with those members who are similar stages of their careers, at similar jobs, with similar interests or circumstances, but there also are tremendous advantages in seeking out those in different situations and starting conversations and collaborations.
In the spirit of spanning generations, I asked a former student of mine and another early-career teacher to join me for a conference presentation in Minneapolis. We have had great fun exchanging ideas and sketching out our workshop over the phone, and I look forward to future planning sessions where we will gather together in person and be able to learn from one another. I am most excited to see what new ideas we develop and the new places our brainstorming may take us. Though I have been impressed with these two individuals over the years, I have never found the time or the reason to get together and collaborate. This conference gave me the push I needed.
So I challenge you to do the same. Look for individuals in the organization who intrigue you—those at different stages in their careers than you, or in a different state or country, or working on different projects. Send them an e-mail or give them a call. Maybe you can just talk over an idea or problem. Or maybe you might be inspired to work on a project, a conference proposal, or an article together. Making connections, crossing bridges, those are sure ways we can grow as individuals and advance our discipline.
My best wishes,
Summer is upon us. For some it is a time to rest and relax, for others it is a time to move forward with personal projects or in pursuit of tenure. For some it may be a continuation of the year, whatever adventures that may bring.
I hope you all have the opportunity to attend the VASTA conference in Minneapolis in July. It can be a chance to interact with one another, and a time for professional growth, whether you are presenting or learning from your colleagues.
If travel doesn't work for you this year, consider developing and submitting an article to the Voice and Speech Review (more on the VSR and the conference in articles below.)
Editor, VASTA Voice
Dear VASTA Members,
Our conference website is open online and the early registration deadline has been extended until the first of July. The conference program is also now online at the conference website so that you may have the opportunity to take a look at the presenters, panels and workshops that are being offered this year.
For an early peek at the specific presentations being offered, be sure to keep up with our conference blog! Each week, leading to the conference, there will be a new group of presenters highlighted.
Finally, for the first time VASTA will be offering ASHA Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to attendees of our 2013 conference for Speech-Language Pathologists through MultiVoice Dimensions. To register and receive CEUs you may do so on the conference page on the VASTA website.
Voices of Wisdom: Spanning Generations, VASTA 2013.
Come share your journey with us!
Voice and Speech Trainers Association
I am thrilled to report that Voice and Speech Review is now officially a publication of Routledge/Francis & Taylor. This is a very big step for the journal and our membership. This partnership will bring the VSR to readers and scholars outside of the membership of VASTA, and will also invite more submissions from outside our ranks. The journal will be published electronically triannually beginning in 2014, with a preview issue to be published in time for the conference to give everyone a sense of what things will look and feel like (and sound like – see below).
Big changes like this sometimes create anxiety. VASTA’s Board, the Associate Editors and I have worked hard to make sure that some of the cherished aspects of the VSR will remain the same. The VSR still holds nurturing new writers and scholars as central to its mission, and we will always depend on VASTA’s membership to provide most of the articles we publish. We are also committed to the printed word, and so current members will receive annually a bound, printed hard copy of the year’s three issues late in the calendar year.
This partnership creates unique opportunities for VASTA members in the immediate future – because we are moving to a triannual schedule, instead of our usual biennial schedule, we can publish your ideas much more quickly. In fact, we are adopting a rolling submission policy so submit what you are working on anytime. As in right now. Send queries or drafts to email@example.com. You might be published as early as March 2014.
Also, the digital nature of the new journal offers the possibility to experiment with all kinds of new media – audio samples, video, links to active web pages – putting us on the cutting edge of scholarly journalism. Some of our submissions for the upcoming preview issue are taking advantage of this. This is as new for Routledge as it is for us, and they are really excited about what the world of voice and speech has to offer this new medium.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the conference. I encourage you to query me or the editorial staff with anything from completed drafts to embryonic ideas. Visit
http://www.vasta.org/submit-an-article for further guidelines.
Voice and Speech Review
I am pleased to announce that this year in Minneapolis will mark the first VASTA conference to offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to speech-language pathologists who attend. Jan Potter Reed, an S/LP and VASTA member, is our CEU coordinator. On behalf of the VASTA Board, I have been working with Jan to organize the process on our end and communicate with members. As required by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), Jan reviewed all the conference sessions to determine which would have application to the clinical practice of S/LPs. ASHA approves continuing education units, and presenters wishing to have CEUs attached to their sessions had to send in paperwork disclosing any relevant financial or non-financial relationship(s) that might influence the content of their presentations. Paperwork is rarely fun, but a minor blip when it leads to adding an ASHA CEU session to a CV/resume. For more details on CEUs and their importance to speech-language pathology certification, click this link: asha.org/ce/CEUs/ceus
The hope is that VASTA will continue to offer CEUs at all future VASTA conferences, at least those in the U.S. Offering CEUs is an important step for VASTA, and significantly moves our mission forward: "VASTA is an international organization whose mission is to advance the art, research, and visibility of the voice and speech profession."
We look forward to this exciting opportunity to expand relationships with our colleagues in speech-language pathology!
Prepared for the Southeastern Theater Conference, Louisville KY, © 2013
Research shows that performing artists are less likely to trust medical care than the average person. More surprising is that singers, outside of the classical world, tend to seek less medical care for their voices than for other routine health problems.
How much are these disconnections linked to the fear that appropriate care isn't available or affordable? Now that national health care reform is moving closer to implementation in the USA, what difference will it make?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes nicknamed "Obamacare," will probably prove to be of some help to performing artists. But it won't solve everything. The challenges of specialty voice care go far beyond the ACA's focus on widely affordable health insurance and access to primary care.
THE GOOD NEWS: Starting in January 2014, nearly everyone will be guaranteed health insurance, and the government will help you pay for it.
- If you're not covered by a traditional employer-based plan, a Health Benefit Exchange in your state will offer one or more affordable insurance plans. Each state has the choice of creating its own plans for the Exchange or using federal guidelines.
- Wherever you get coverage, tax credits will help lower the cost of your insurance premiums.
- Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped on a sliding scale, and low-income folks will get extra federal help with those expenses too.
- Everyone will be protected against insurer discrimination based on gender or health status, and against being booted out of a plan after you get sick.
- With improved access to basic health coverage, and new financial incentives for primary care clinics and other wellness centers, vocal artists may stay in better health generally. If an artist is responsible for aging parents or disabled family members, those burdens will decrease.
- The ACA defines a set of "essential health benefits" that must be part of every insurance plan. Rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy and speech therapy, are one of these required categories of care.
THE BAD NEWS: Problems that are unique to artists' voice care will persist.
- Medical care for the artistic voice will remain a small sub-specialty within otolaryngology ("ENT"), far from the primary care funding emphasized in the Affordable Care Act. Access to vocal arts clinics will stay challenging because there just aren't enough of them.
- Performing artists on freelance budgets may resent the requirement to buy insurance (or pay a fine to support the safety net), even though this mandate ensures basic benefits for everyone.
- Lack of knowledge about voice care, jobs that are vocally demanding or even abusive, inadequate training, the mental strain of under-employment, and addictive "self-medication" —these vocal health challenges will not disappear just because the whole country gets better screenings for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Although rehabilitation services in general will be a required healthcare benefit, the exact coverage for voice (speech) therapy will vary from state to state and from plan to plan.
THE NUTSHELL: Knowledge is still power, and prevention is still your best health care policy.
- If you don't currently have health insurance, ward off anxiety by saving now for the 2014 mandate. To learn about the plan options that your state will implement next year: search "Health Benefit Exchange" on your state's website of government services.
- Now and forever, protect your voice with quality training, reasonable vocal rest, and overall well-ness: nutrition, sleep, exercise, social support, and spirituality.
- Locate and make friends with a medical voice team that can help you promptly when you're not sounding right. Even if the best clinic is hours away, the trip will save you time and money in the long run. If you don't know where to go, here's a national directory of voice specialists: http://www.gbmc.org/home_voicecenter.cfm?id=1551
- Your destiny as a vocal athlete, and your fabulous, loyal, but sometimes-fragile vocal cords deserve no less.
Joanna Cazden, MFA, MS-CCC is a licensed speech pathologist in Southern California who specializes in voice care for performing artists. Her handbook, Everyday Voice Care: The Lifestyle Guide for Singers and Talkers, is available from Hal Leonard Books: www.tinyurl.com/everyday-voice-book, on Kindle at www.tinyurl.com/everyday-voice-download, or from your local arts bookstore.
We are committed to continuing the discussion on diversity issues in the VASTA Voice. As chair of the VASTA diversity committee, I invite anyone to contribute to this column! Please send thoughts, ideas and questions to Michelle Lopez-Rios firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to more discussions and conversations in Minneapolis.
A Commitment to Diversity…
I was inspired by the incredible work, moved by the amazing talents, and reignited by the passion in each and every room at the VASTA conference in D.C. I am thankful to be a part of a group that is mindful and active in pursuing an inclusive and supportive environment for all of its members. Brent Blair’s workshop and Michael Rohd’s guidance elicited wonderful conversation. The panels on diversity and multiculturalism enlightened and informed. With all this good work, one might wonder why diversity continues to be an important issue for our organization.
I was invited to coach Robert Fall’s production of Measure for Measure this winter at Goodman Theatre in Chicago. I am a fan of their work and had made the trek down to Chicago almost a dozen times since we moved to Milwaukee in 2006 because of the plays they choose to produce. Goodman’s mission statement ends with:
By dedicating itself to three guiding principles—quality, diversity and community—Goodman Theatre seeks to be the premier cultural organization in Chicago, providing productions and programs that make an essential contribution to the quality of life in our city.
The production lived up to those principles. Falls hired a talented cast with a collective experience at the best Shakespeare venues across the country. He set the play in New York City in the late 1970’s and envisioned an ensemble that would reflect the city. Of the 25 actors cast, 10 were actors of color. Last, he hired 23 local actors for the production.
With a luxurious six-week rehearsal period, we had time to play and try out various choices for the characters. We knew that Isabella and Claudio would be Latino, but decided together they were Dominican New Yorkers who spoke in Spanish occasionally. The Provost, Juliet, Pompey, and the Secretary were all black characters. Their speech ranged from a street-talking pimp to a neutral sounding government worker. But more important than the casting was the journey.
Diverse actors fresh out of training were working along side an actor that had developed professionally in the August Wilson cycle and had performed in the Broadway tour of The Piano Lesson. They shared the stage with a co-founder of Shakespeare and Company and an actress whose experiences included everything from Off-Broadway to the Lyric Opera. What wonderful experiences and stories were passed down to the next generation of Chicago artists! I know this may not sound like a big deal–there have been countless Shakespeare productions with multicultural casts. But remember African-Americans only comprise approximately 7% of Actor’s Equity, but represented 25% of this cast. Latinos comprise less than 3% of Equity membership, but were 8% of this cast. It was, in fact, a big deal.
Complimenting this piece were the Goodman’s productions of Teddy Ferrara and Pedro Páramo that were produced at the same time. In Teddy Ferrara, audiences were introduced to Gabe, a college senior who runs a Queer Students group. Tragic events at the school lead him on a journey that shakes his world to the core. Finally, Pedro Páramo, a collaboration with a Cuban company, was performed in Spanish with English subtitles. The production successfully attracted a large Latino audience.
The shows elicited interesting conversations in the lobby and in the rehearsal rooms. What does it mean for Measure for Measure to be set during the second wave of the women’s movement in the U.S.? Why do reviewers mention two young men kissing on stage, but hardly bat an eye at heterosexual acts of intimacy? How does the Cuban culture influence the movement in the piece?
The guiding principles of quality, diversity, and community at the Goodman serve the artists and the audience. The shows engage a more diverse group of artists than the average theater. And in turn, a more diverse audience walks into the theaters. Students of color see and hear a variety of professional actors who look like them. Gay students see a gay leading man wrestling with love, life, and death. Their commitment to diversity puts women like Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Quiara Alegria Hudes and Mary Zimmerman front and center in the making of theatre. Making a commitment to diversity brings in more voices, more stories, and more possibilities in theatre.
The members of VASTA are equally committed to diversity. This is apparent from the wonderful work that has been done thus far. With shrinking budgets, theaters closing their doors, and the sky rocketing cost of higher education there are so many challenges we face as voice and speech trainers and artists. Despite the breadth of work by women playwrights, major U.S. theaters continue to announce seasons written entirely by white men. States like Texas propose laws that devalue ethnic studies in universities. The Tempest and House on Mango Street are still locked up in an Arizona storage room. And various studies show that LGBQT youth are 3-4 times more likely to attempt suicide in our country. For these reasons, diversity must continue to be at the forefront of our work.
Our clients, students, and colleagues benefit greatly from our commitment to diversity. Amazing work on diversity in our organization has been done. I look forward to building on that work and continuing to encourage diverse practices, awareness, and space for difficult dialogues. I hope you will join in this commitment.
Charge of the Diversity Committee:
- Compiling and distributing artistic texts (or bibliographic references) from as wide a cultural spectrum as possible, for our members’ use with all students and clients;
- Developing relationships with the diverse focus groups within ATHE, educating ourselves about their agendas and inquiring how we might work together;
- Proactively identifying and inviting voice and speech experts of diverse backgrounds to become major conference presenters and to submit work to VASTA publications;
- Proactively inviting diverse organizations from underserved communities (artistic, educational, and cultural) to participate in the VASTA Fellows program;
- Encouraging interactions between academically-based members and their colleagues in non-English language departments, regarding bilingual theater productions and other projects;
- Developing budget items to support VASTA representatives to attend conferences and other events of organizations that represent diverse constituencies.
- Creating scholarships for students and teachers from under-represented communities to attend VASTA events.
VASTA Board of Directors & Officers
Michael J. Barnes
Guy William Molnar
Tara McAllister Viel
Michael J. Barnes
©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association