Volume 11, Issue 4
Table of Contents:
A Message from the President
Letter from the Editor
VASTA MD: Vocal Fry
Committee Chair Updates
VASTA At ATHE
Voice and Speech Review: Update from the Editor
An Interview with Martin Zied
Hello from the new President!
It was such a pleasure to be at the Chicago Conference this past August, re-connecting with old friends in VASTA but also making many new ones. I was impressed at the number of ‘first timers’ at the conference and hope that every member who met them can reach out at some point this fall to say hello. Hopefully early on, you were welcomed into VASTA; perhaps now you can take a moment to email or call a new colleague. Communication is our business so I encourage you to inquire how their fall term is going and to share your current story with them.
In addition to the excellent feature presenters in Chicago (wasn’t the final sing along the best ending to the three fulfilling days!?), conference member sessions showed a great variety of panelists and presenters brought together from many aspects of our field. The cross-pollination of ideas and initiatives was truly inspiring. Look for articles in upcoming issues of the VSR and the Newsletter that expand on the sessions and make sure that yours is among them! If you were on a panel or conducted a workshop, you will receive excellent guidance from the VSR editorial staff to bring your article to completion. Our members are our life-blood and VASTA has always relied on generous sharing through practical workshops and publications.
For this fall issue, many thanks need to go to Lynn Watson, who has shepherded VASTA so well over the past two years as President. She has such a passion for the whole organization and demonstrated every day how we can serve it as a board. She is a wonderful example of how those who volunteer can take members’ ideas and set the course for all. I look forward to her continuing guidance in her new role as Past President.
The new Early Career Leadership initiative has stimulated a number of members to apply- they are all eager to learn about the Board’s inner workings and to contribute in a meaningful way throughout the year. The board will view the applications and make a choice- I have a feeling it will be a very tough one.
I encourage you to think deeply about what you feel VASTA can do, over and above its current offerings, to fulfill its mission:
To Share within our VASTA circle.
To Expand outside our VASTA circle to learn from other fields.
To Engage with individuals and groups outside our field.
We have grants and scholarships already in place to attend to these aspects of our mission. Take another look at the website to see how you can benefit from these initiatives and see if they inspire new ideas you can share with the board. Early, mid or later career professionals have so much to offer from their expertise and life knowledge- it’s important for the board to continue to tap into this resource.
The Fall board meeting is taking place in Chicago Nov 11th to 13th this year. I am excited that new board members and the Early Career member will bring new ideas and energy to the table.
I meant it when I said I want to connect this year with as many members as I can, to see how you feel this vibrant organization can best serve your career journeys. Always feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas. I would love the beginning of the next 30 years to be filled with members’ input, to keep our offerings current with the field in both old and vibrant new ways.
For those of you teaching in schools and training programs, I hope the start of your fall semester has gone well.
I want to welcome Betty into her new role as President, and everyone else who is stepping into a new role in this new term. I hope everyone received Betty's email about next year's conference in Singapore.
There is some wonderful content in this issue of the newsletter. Including a great interview with Martin Zied, director of the upcoming documentary Voice Messages. The interview was completed by Lauren Yeoman, who is our incoming Associate Editor for the newsletter. Her term will officially start in January.
I want to encourage all of you to actively participate in the newsletter! You can do this in a few ways - send us your annual update for the member news section (I just sent an email a couple of weeks ago with details about this), contact us to write a short article for the tech column or coaching column, or submit questions about voice medicine to Dr. Yolanda Heman-Ackah who will base a short article on them in her column.
Looking forward to receiving your submissions,
Editor, The VASTA Voice
Vocal fry is a raspy, low-pitched voice that is produced by a slow vibration of closed vocal folds. It is considered to be the “third vocal register”, with the modal register and falsetto being the other two. Vocal fry is at the lowest frequency end of one’s vocal range and is produced by relaxing the vocal folds while holding the arytenoid cartilages (which attach to the back of the vocal folds) in a pressed and closed position. In and of itself, vocal fry is a normal part of the vocal frequency range and is not pathologic. However, excessive use of vocal fry can become pathologic and damage the vocal folds.
The use of vocal fry at the end of sentences or as part of a low inflection has become a cultural practice in certain sections of the population in the United States among both male and female speakers. However, its use is typically met with negative connotations among female speakers. Most individuals who have some fry as part of their speaking voice have normal appearing and normally functioning vocal folds. The use of vocal fry can be used therapeutically to help individuals with hyperfunctional vocal behaviors learn to relax the vocal folds. It can also be used to teach safe ways of producing a scream or growl onstage. When used excessively, however, or with excessive tension on the arytenoids, stiffness, fibrosis, and/or nodules can form on the vocal folds, and for this reason, the use of fry is typically discouraged by most voice professionals.
Dear VASTA Members,
VASTA's focus group was proud to be a part of the 2016 ATHE Conference, Performance, Labor & ATHE @ 30 in Chicago. Our focus group sponsored a total of 9 panels/workshops! We also held our VASTA @ ATHE Happy Hour, where approximately 25 VASTA members joined in on the festivities on the Plymouth Grill Rooftop.
We highly encourage VASTA members to attend and/or present in the 2017 ATHE Conference, Spectacle: balancing education, theory, and praxis, to be held in Las Vegas, August 3-6. For those who are unable to make the trip to Singapore for the VASTA 2017 Conference, this is a great way to connect with your VASTA colleagues and share your ideas.
Interested in presenting at ATHE 2017 under VASTA Focus Group sponsorship? Have an idea? Need collaborators? Never been to ATHE before? Contact ATHE Conference Planner for VASTA, Kristi Dana: email@example.com.
Can't wait to see you next summer - VEGAS BABY!
Greetings VASTAns! There was a lot of enthusiastic interest in the Voice and Speech Review (VSR), VASTA's journal, at the conference this year. I'm looking forward to even more excitement once the print volume for 2015 arrives on your doorstep, which it should be doing by late September or early October.
This one has been a long time coming. You have all been wonderfully patient, although I've gotten a fair share of inquiries from people wondering "Where is my print VSR?" For some people it's a real highlight of the year, and I am the first person to admit there's something a little wonky when the 2015 issue comes most of the way through 2016. A few others have asked me "Why has it taken so long?" There are a multitude of reasons for that, and I'd like to let everyone know about a few of them here.
One reason is the massive flooding that struck Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, in late November 2015. I was surprised to learn that Chennai is the world’s leading location for academic journal composition services. The impact of this natural disaster on transport, electricity and communications significantly disrupted the operations of our publisher Routledge's print services. This, to me, was a striking indication of how globally connected we all are, as it slowed down production of many academic journals worldwide, ours included.
However, the primary reason our 2015 issue took so long to get to print is that we didn't have enough content in 2015 to meet our obligation to Routledge, so I and the other VSR editors have had to use most of 2016 so far to make up that deficit. We have all been working to get submissions and to move them through the editorial process as quickly as we can, but the reality of our work on the VSR is that because we really care about the quality of the writing we publish, that process can't be rushed. We shoot for 2 to 3 months of editorial time, but sometimes it takes much longer -- up to a year in some cases.
This is all by way of reminding you all that in order for the journal to be a vital, meaningful publication, we need to have vital, meaningful things to publish -- and the most vital and meaningful writing comes from you. From within the membership. In other words, we really need submissions from within the membership to keep the journal alive and thriving. I posted recently on the VOX about this, but I think it bears repeating: the journal belongs to you all, to VASTA. I sometimes think people imagine the VSR is a magazine produced and published by literary luminaries in a loft in SoHo somewhere, especially as we now have the fancy Routledge logo appended to everything we publish. I wish it were -- if for no other reason than I'd love to have a loft in SoHo -- but it's not. It's made by us, by you, by me and a lot of other people you actually know personally.
VASTA has always been a very personal organization that flourishes when those personal connections are given room to thrive and grow. The VSR is the same. It is a remarkable and wholly unlikely thing (there are still many who may remember the initial skepticism from within and without the membership about the viability of the journal. Well, here we are, 16 years and over a thousand pages later) that was invented, basically, by us in VASTA, and there's a long roster of people who have worked on it in the last 15 years. I'm willing to bet you know at least a few of them. Rena Cook recently told me about how, in the early days of the VSR, it was really held up and supported by the entire membership. I think that in the last few years, the way members have conceptualized the VSR has changed. It's not a shiny new thing anymore. Some people seem to think that it's a service or perk provided by the organization to the membership. But that's not it. It's not a service provided to the membership, it's a collective voicing of ideas, tools, experiences, analyses and more created by the membership. And it needs love and care from us -- not just the editors, who work their butts off constantly to bring the journal to you. As I said above, it needs love and care, and submissions of writing, from the entire membership of the organization in order to thrive.
In my next newsletter contribution, I will write more about the writing process and ways of thinking about it that make it less scary (I am told over and over again how scary it is to write something). But for now let me say this: the VSR is the friendliest academic journal you will ever submit to. Chances are you know, know of, or have met the person who is editing your work. We take great care to interact with authors in ways that draw out ideas and improve upon them rather than shutting them down with harsh criticism. The VSR has always held the nurturing or writers as one of its core values, and this hasn't changed just because we are now published by Routledge from our fancy loft in SoHo.
As always, please contact me with any questions -- or submissions! -- at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emmy-winning filmmaker Martin Zied examines the potency and complexity of the human voice from multiple angles in his new film, Voice Messages. In it, he collects voice perspectives from his interviewees' personal history and memory, as well as on art, speech, song, digital and virtual technology, and science, with participants ranging from rock icon Linda Ronstadt to renowned otolaryngologist Dr. Robert Sataloff. Here, he talks about the inspiration to create a cross-section of voices from the past, present, and potential future, and how his film evolved.
VV: Your film probes the dynamic facets of the human voice across a wide range of mediums - fromâ song to speech, from science and technology to history and family. What drew you to bring so many angles on the voice together in one film?
MZ: When I began to think about Voice Messages, I began "discovering" so many layers of how we use our voices. I of course recognized the beauty and emotional impact of the singing voice, but then I thought about how much we take the voice for granted in our everyday lives...how it can reflect our sense of self, our masculinity or femininity. How we use it to persuade, praise, degrade and seduce others. And then I wanted to know more about voice health and how the voice ages.
VV: Did the film evolve according to your original vision or did you change course?
MZ: I started by pursuing the topics and people that I admire and respect. So I sought out the remarkable jazz/gospel a capella group Take 6. I'd been a huge fan for years...not because they've won 10 GRAMMY Awards, but because their vocal harmonies astounded me! I was fortunate enough to film them at the venerable Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. Then I heard Billy West doing edgy impressions of Johnny Carson, Lucille Ball and Larry from The Three Stooges, on the Howard Stern show...I filmed with him in L.A. and he was hysterical! And I saw Michael Winslow on a Geico commercial, where he was making vocal sounds like a car crashing, a telephone operator and a check being written, and I thought, I have to include him in Voice Messages! I filmed him at his home in Orlando. The rest came about from my subsequent research and pursuing what interested me.
VV: How would you describe the distinguishing features of the film?
MZ: It's a vocal stew! Voice Messages includes, among other things, the voice as entertainment, the sociological implications of how we use it, and what happens if we lose our voices. I was able to interview rock legend Linda Ronstadt, who sadly, is losing her voice to Parkinson’s disease. Here she's used that powerful voice to wow audiences and to sell over 100 million albums, and now she's losing her beloved tool. It’s a very moving story.
VV: What was surprising or unexpected in the process?
MZ: I've learned so many things on this journey...some of them factual, some of them personal. For instance, I was surprised to find out that the captain of the Exxon Valdez was convicted by virtue of the sound of his voice. His call to shore police after the crash was recorded and voice experts were able to determine that he was inebriated and had diminished mental acuity. Personally, we just concluded a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I never imagined it would be so hard! Harder than actually making the film!
VV: What have your most potent experiences been with the voice?
MZ: My earliest memory of the voice's powers came in the 3rd grade! I was attending a school concert with my mom and an upperclassman sang "Without a Song," in a high tenor range. When he finished, I was crying and trying to hide it from my classmates and my mom! It wasn't until years later that I realized that the tenderness and beauty of his voice had moved me to tears. Years later I heard a bunch of guys singing doo-wop a capella on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. I was mesmerized!
VV: In your lifetime, what have you witnessed about the evolution of the voice?
MZ: I think it will ultimately become more important than ever...we're trending towards email and texting in lieu of speaking with one another. But I think there will be a reverse trend toward authenticity and using our God-given gift, our voices, to connect.
VV: You sing in many genres yourself. As a voice artist and performer, what's your definition of vocal presence?
MZ: To me, it's the ability to engage the listener...the voice doesn't have to be perfect to be appealing. Why do we like some voices better than others? That's like trying to figure out who we fall in love with!
VV: Can you talk about your favorite voices, who they are and why?
MZ: In the current mix, I love Adele and Vince Gill. I'm stirred when I hear them. Going old school, I was raised with the great soul singers.... Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Levi Stubbs and David Ruffin. Imperfect voices with grit, sweetness and depth.
VV: What are the biggest voice obstacles we face in the 21st century?
MZ: Maybe more of a challenge than an obstacle... I think we're starting to understand the do's and don't's of vocal health. It will require our attention and effort to keep our voices sound and strong throughout our lives.
VV: Your film gives glimpses into future possibilities such as vocal fold harvesting. How do you see scientific and/or technological advances such as this proceeding in the near future?
MZ: There's the field of giving voices to those who don't have one. I'll soon be filming with a brilliant physician, who’s harvesting thousands of healthy voices to give to those who, in the past, have been relegated to what's called the "Stephen Hawking" computerized voice. To me, the advent of this technique will be life-changing - and life-affirming.
VV: Not to request a spoiler, but do you have a favorite moment or favorite interview in the bunch?
MZ: We're not finished filming yet... in fact we're seeking private or corporate partners and grants in order to get to the finish line. But as of now, my most powerful experience has been interviewing Linda Ronstadt. We were only scheduled to have 20 minutes, but we wound up speaking for 90. She was smart and gracious and I'm grateful.
VV: What impact do you hope your film will have for viewers?
MZ: I hope they come away from the film feeling more alive and aware than when they entered the theater! There's so much that we reveal about ourselves through our voices - and most of the time we're not paying attention!
I probably don’t have to convince you that having a professional website is a boon in our business. Even if you’re working it on LinkedIn and you’ve got your business Facebook page flush with status updates, a professional webpage offers a clean look and access to a wider client/student base. Still, building a website for the first time can be a staggering prospect. Of course, you could hire someone to create the website of your wildest cyber dreams, but if that’s not your style, give one of these website generators a try. No coding knowledge required.
There are loads of website generators out there. Here I’ve covered three of the big ones.
Weebly is free and easy to use. It offers an intuitive interface with the ability to drag and drop features right into your website before it ever goes live, and making changes any time is just as easy. It’s free, as long as you add weebly.com to the end of your domain name, or there are payed options with more customer support and no “weebly” in your domain name. However, Weebly doesn’t offer a lot of design freedom. You more or less have to decide on one of their templates and color inside the lines. If you’re looking to create a something simple with straightforward choices, Weebly is for you. If you’ve got really big ideas you might want to look elsewhere.
Once you’ve seen the Weebly templates, you can tell when you come across a Weebly site. Not so with Wix. Wix offers a lot more design flexibility, and therefore more unique sites. It’s also really easy to use with a drag and drop feature and a deluge of options. Wix is free if you’re cool with some advertising on your site, which is a great way to dip your toe in the world wide web waters, or you can upgrade to one of their premium plans for a sleeker look and more features.
You might remember this crazy ad from a few years ago with Jeff Bridges and his Sleep Tapes, which was actually just a clever spot for Squarespace. Squarespace is slick. You’ll get a lot of features - like the ability to create your own logo and favicon - a stunning website, and 24/7 customer support. However, it’s not free. The cheapest Squarespace plan is $12 per month. It’s a good alternative, if you were going to pay a web designer anyway but want more control over the process along with the ability to make changes on your own.
Greetings from the New International Committee Chair
Oh the joys of being a peripatetic practitioner!
It’s true that I haven’t been feeling much of the joy of late, because travelling around the world and not knowing where – or even if – your next pay cheque will come from can be extremely exhausting and stressful. However, this wanderer can now joyfully report that a reasonably steady, part time job has been acquired, and a room of my own in a lovely part of Edinburgh, Scotland, has been rented. I’ll be based here for the foreseeable future, teaching voice to Musical Theatre and Acting students at a local academy.
I can now give some long overdue attention to my new duties as Chair of the International Committee, which Amy Mihyang Ginther handed over to me a few weeks ago. Amy has done amazing work during her stint in the Chair, raising awareness of the International aspect of VASTA, encouraging members to participate in the work of the committee, ensuring that the newsletter is always providing fresh and vital stories from our international members. Amy’s are extremely impressive shoes to fill, and I only hope I can do justice to her faith in me, trusting me to take over this important role.
The International Committee works to make sure that International voices and perspectives are heard as part of an enriched dialogue – in addition to the US/Canadian community reaching out to the international communities.
You may not be aware that membership of the International Committee is entirely voluntary. You don’t have to reside outside of the USA, you just have to be committed to helping to further the aims and objectives of VASTA as an international organisation. This includes being in a position to reach out to the international community of voice trainers, encouraging them to join VASTA, ensuring that they are aware of the benefits of membership and then ensuring that they enjoy those benefits. The committee ‘convenes’ via email, and engages face to face (whoever can get there) at the Annual Conference..
Next year’s conference in Singapore, The Art of Storytelling, is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and to support each other – in any way we can – to attend and to experience the exchange of views that will result. In this way we demonstrate just how international an organisation VASTA is. As others have pointed out, Singapore is a developed country which is not difficult to get to, has wonderful culture, and English is one of the official languages. I’ve been there, so I speak from experience. And of course, Aole T Miller is already there, and if you haven’t met Aole yet, you need to. I’ve done a quick Google check on flights, I can get there from Edinburgh (and back) for around USD 800, and from New York to Singapore it’s from USD 950 return. However, the cheaper flights do sell out quickly.
Please help us to spread the word, and help to make the 2017 conference a celebration of the amazing cultural mix that goes to make up VASTA worldwide.
Greetings VASTA Members and Happy Fall!
It was such a pleasure meeting so many of you at the Chicago Conference this summer. After reading so many proposals, I thoroughly enjoyed finally being able to attend many of your Member Presentations in person! A HUGE thank you to Claudia Anderson, the rest of the Conference Planning Committee, the Student and VASTA Member Volunteers, the Board, the Membership in Attendance, and DePaul University for a truly successful week of learning, communicating, growing, and absorbing each others' practice! Please, let's keep the conversations going!
I would also like to welcome any new VASTA members and congratulate those VASTA members stepping into new positions within the organization this month! A special Thank You to Betty Moulton and Flloyd Kennedy for their NEW contributions to the VASTA Voice.
This month we will be hearing from members in our 'South' and 'Southeast' regions. A reminder that our November issue will feature member news from our 'East Central' and 'West Central' members. If you would like your member news included please submit by October 30th to make it into our November issue.
Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice
ROBIN ARONSON (University of Southern Mississippi) is currently directing Next To Normal and serving as the vocal coach for Silent Sky and Peer Gynt at Southern Miss. Robin is also working as the vocal coach on an International Project of The Tempest-Reimagined with RADA director, Nona Shepphard in Manila, Philippines at the Philippine Educational Theatre Association. Robin is President of the Lessac Institute and has most recently taught Lessac Voice and Body Workshops at The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland and at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
CYNTHIA BARRETT (Atlanta, Georgia) was the dialect coach for two television pilots this past spring and is spending the fall coaching on a movie (signed an NDA, so she can’t say which one) and a production of Anne Boleyn for Synchronicity Theatre. She has been cast as Rachel in Appropriate at Actor’s Express, and plays moms in episodes of Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s Vice Principals.
DAYDRIE HAGUE (Auburn University, Auburn AL) continues as Head of Performance at Auburn University. Most recently she has directed Playhouse Creatures by April de Angelis, about the first women on the English speaking stage. She will direct The Drowsy Chaperone in the spring. Dialect coaching includes Assassins, The Foreigner, and Frankenstein. Current research includes voice and performance anxiety. Hague’s most current article “Evaluating Stress Reduction Techniques and Fitzmaurice Voicework® as a Template for Addressing Performance Anxiety and Enhancing Focus in Student Actors” appears in the VSR shortly.
JIM JOHNSON (Houston, TX) taught Original Pronunciation for the Prague Shakespeare Festival summer intensive 2016. Prior to that, he coached Carousel and Prince of Players at the Houston Grand Opera, Intimate Apparel at the University of Houston, Christmas Carol at the Alley Theatre, and Merchant of Venice and Macbeth for the Houston Shakespeare Festival. He recently stepped down as the Director of the School of Theatre & Dance at UH, where he continues to teach. This past year, he directed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at UH and a collaboration with the Houston Symphony. Jim continues to develop materials for learning accents via www.AccentHelp.com, and travels whenever humanly possible.
ERICA TOBOLSKI (University of South Carolina) is currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a 6-month residency at the National Academy of Arts Culture and Heritage. While here, she will conduct research on the impact of several voice methodologies on eastern training practices. For the Great River Shakespeare Festival, she coached Julius Caesar, was dialect consultant for Georama and served as coordinator and instructor for the Apprentice Company. At the Clarence Brown Theatre, she coached The Threepenny Opera. She presented a paper at the SETC Symposium in April, co-authored with Deb Kinghorn, entitled "Finding Common Ground: Lessac Training Across Cultures". She played the role of Toni in Appropriate at Trustus Theatre in South Carolina, and reprised the role of Juliana in The Other Place at the Aspen Fringe Festival.
ARTEMIS PREESHL (LOUISIANA) coached lead actress Aunjune Ellis in her portrayal of a 1950s jazz singer with Alzheimer’s disease in a Treme accent for Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind, an official entry in the 2014 New Orleans Film Festival. She became an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework in 2014. She directed and coached British accents for Campion’s Will, a celebration of Jesuit Edmund Campion and William Shakespeare in a play about sanctity, sin, and martyrdom on March 24, 2016 at The Shakespeare Association of America. Adriano Cabral, VASTA's Technical Director played William Shakespeare. This play was performed at the Association of Theatre in Higher Education in Chicago on August 12, 2016.
VASTA Board of Directors & Officers
Tara McAllister Viel
Micha Espinosa & Aole Miller
Michael J. Barnes
Janet B. Rodgers
Joanna Battles & Tamara Meneghini
©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association