The VASTA Voice

Volume 12, Issue 4

Table of Contents:

A Message from the President

Betty Moulton

Betty Moulton

A hearty hello to all those in the Northern Hemisphere and a balmy one for the South.

The Art of Storytelling, the annual conference this past August in Singapore was a resounding success. Many members from outside of North America attended: new and established members came from many countries in the region including Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Mongolia, China and many more. The spirit of curiosity about other cultures and their voices prompted both formal and informal meetings throughout the 4 and a half days, giving rise to new ideas and collaborations. It was a terrific window into the world of communication from an Asian perspective and proved once again how VASTA can expand throughout the world to promote collegial and exciting relationships. Many thanks again to all who made the Conference a success, from the Conference Directors Micha Espinosa and Budi Miller, to the tireless treasurer, Artemis Preeshl, the assistants who ensured members’ sessions were organized, Rachel Hirshorn-Johnston and Kate Clarke, through to the many student volunteers who enthusiastically attended the sessions…

Now on to other news….The board completed the annual fall Board meeting in Detroit Michigan, hosted by Detroit-based president elect, Michael Barnes. As usual, we had many exciting issues and initiatives to discuss, and managed to see a wonderful one woman show No Child at the Detroit Public Theatre. It was a moving evening as the star, Nilaja Sun portrayed many different characters, changing seamlessly from one to another, telling their stories with deep humanity and humour. It was a masterful display of all that we teach for performing voice with authenticity and tremendous variety.

At the board meeting we thanked Artemis Preeshl for her terrific work as treasurer over the past 3 years, as she cycles off the board to pursue her new job at Elon University. She has served VASTA well, keeping our interests at heart while covering the complications of international finance for our Singapore Conference especially. She is passing the baton to Chaslee Schweitzer, leaving big shoes to fill after a great record of service.

We welcomed the two new recipients of the Early Career Leadership Initiative, Jeremy Sortore from Utah Valley University and Jennifer Innes from Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia. They will be attending board meetings all year. Jeremy was able to join us in person, while Jennifer Zoomed in for a few hours- midnight until 3 am her time. Our members are dedicated! The two have already brought some new ideas and approaches and Jennifer is keen to connect with members in her part of the world. She will be contacting members about her ideas for strong participation in VASTA in that region…

The board voted to engage an Arts Consultant to take a comprehensive look at VASTA’s organization. We are 31 years old this year, and our operations have grown considerably since our inaugural year, so the board is mindful of keeping pace with our growing membership and the initiatives we have that support us all. Sarah Clare Corporandy is the Artistic Director of Detroit Public Theatre and an Arts consultant with a strong resume of consultancy for theatres and arts organizations. She is excited to work with the Overview of VASTA’s Organization Committee (OVO) and the whole board.

Here are the other items the board has passed for implementation:

The Member-Sponsored Appreciation Award is now fully formed and accepting applications. Check out the Awards section of the website and consider who you might wish to nominate.

Look for three brand new awards from the Voice and Speech Review (VSR). They are announced later in this newsletter. Rocky Sansom is carrying on the amazing work that our previous editor, Jeff Morrison has done to make this Routledge publication a force in the publication industry for all communication issues. Rocky invites submissions at all times during the year and the editorial staff, all volunteer, are very open to helping fledgling writers as well as more seasoned ones. Keep generating ideas for articles and send them to Rocky- he’s got ambitious plans that benefit all of us.

I hope you have been following #My Voice Can on the VASTA’s Voices Facebook page. The monthly features on our members are a great way to help us all identify with the varied journeys in this field. Make sure you check the Facebook page frequently to see these profiles.

There are changes to the International Committee, newly named the Global Membership Group. As we continue to expand how we view our international character as an organization, this committee is dedicated to finding myriad ways to represent all members equally. Look for news of developments from this committee over the next few months.

We are now gearing up for the next conference in Seattle, Soma and Science, August 11-14, 2018! Planning with the Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) for this first-ever joint conference is going extremely well. There will be many opportunities for sessions by members and collaboration with PAVA members is strongly encouraged. Announcement of the proposal application process and deadline is on the VASTA website!

That’s about it for now. We have had a busy few months since the last conference and everyone is now deeply into the winter/summer season of voice practice, influencing clear and passionate communication however you work in the field.

I am honoured to be your president, to connect with so many creative, intelligent and positive individuals throughout the year. As ever, I encourage you to scan the website for opportunities for engagement, get involved with committees, write an article, apply for a grant and keep in touch with your board. We volunteer our time and efforts on your behalf and want to know what most benefits you.

Hope you had a great holiday season, wherever on the globe you are, and keep in touch.



Betty Moulton


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Letter from the Editor

Lisa Nathans

Greetings VASTAns,

I hope you enjoy this issue of The VASTA Voice. It is a special one for me, as it is my last issue as your Editor. Don't worry though, you are being left in very capable hands, as I pass the baton over to my enthusiastic Associate Editor Lauren Murphy-Yeoman. As Lauren steps into her new role as Editor, we are still in search of someone to step into her Associate Editor shoes. Any interested candidates please email me ASAP at with your CV and a statement regarding your interest in the position.

I would also like to anounce the unanimous Board vote that moving forward The VASTA Voice will become a quarterly newsletter publication. Our hope is that this might help formalize the Newsletter structure, clarifying for members when to expect each issue. We hope that this decision might also help members remember when to submit articles, whilst also encouraging them to more actively think about article topics and content they may wish to submit for publication.  

Moving forward, I have recommended the following publishing schedule (which has been approved by the Board) with member article submissions ideally being made by the first of the publishing month:

  1. End of February (Publishing in February allows more members to be back at work following the holidays, with access to their email. This also gives slightly more transition time for the NEW Editor and Associate Editor to transition into their roles.)
  2. End of May (This newsletter, is the pre-conference push! It will be geared at getting members excited for the upcoming VASTA conference.)
  3. End of August (This newsletter, will more immediately relay ‘what happened at the conference’ to those members that were unable to attend.)
  4. End of November (The 'End of Year Issue' will be used to announce and excite members about the next VASTA conference as well as close out any business from the year.)

Again, with the hopes of becoming more globally inclusive, The VASTA Voice will continue to publish Member News based on last names/surnames rather than geographic region. The schedule for publishing Member News in 2018 (again with submissions being made ideally by the first of the month) is as follows:

  1. February: Members with last names/surnames beginning with A, B, C, D, E, or F
  2. May: Members with last names/surnames beginning with G, H, I, J, K, or L
  3. August: Members with last names/surnames beginning with M, N, O, P, Q, or R
  4. November: Members with last names/surnames beginning with S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z

Member News should be emailed to for publishing. Please attach a jpg photo to your email and adhere to the following format for your submission:

Font: Times New Roman, Size 12 Font
YOUR NAME IN ALL CAPS (Location City, State or Country)
Book Titles: italics
Play Titles: italics
Articles: quotation marks
Journals: italics


It has been a true pleasure to serve as your The VASTA Voice editor (and associate editor before that) for such an extended amout of time. I look forward to finding new ways to serve our wonderful voice and speech community in the future.

Thank you very much for all of your support!

Warm best,

Lisa Nathans

Editor, The VASTA Voice

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Ask VASTA MD: Obstructive Sleep Apnea and the Voice

Yolanda D. Heman-Ackah, MD

Obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately 26% of the adult US population or about 25 million American adults.  

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is partial or complete obstruction of the airway anywhere from the level of the vocal folds to the back of the nose (nasopharynx).

During the day, the tone in the muscles in the palate, tongue, back of the throat (pharynx), and larynx help to create an open airway for the passage of air from the nose and mouth into the windpipe (trachea) and lungs.  When we sleep, the body goes through several stages, starting with a light sleep in which muscle tone is maintained and progressing in stages to the deepest state of sleep (REM sleep) in which all of the muscles in the body are maximally relaxed.  In normal anatomy, even though the muscles are relaxed, there is still enough space between them to allow the free flow of air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. If, however, there is excess tissue in the airway or if the jaw bones or tongue sit farther back than is ideal, when deep sleep is reached, the tissues collapse, causing an obstruction of the airway.  In order to get air into the lungs, the lungs, diaphragm, and chest must work harder during breathing to get enough air to supply oxygen to tissues in the body.  If there is partial collapse, this excess work brings some air in, but not enough in to keep the oxygen concentration up in the blood to supply the tissues of the body (all of the tissues of the body need oxygen in a steady supply in order to function correctly, even during sleep), and the oxygen concentration in the blood goes below the values needed by the tissues to function appropriately (this is a hypopnea).  If there is complete collapse, no air comes into the lungs at all, despite the lungs, chest, diaphragm, and abdomen’s efforts to draw air in.  This results in periods of time in which the body receives no new oxygen at all (this is an apnea), resulting in a lowering of the oxygen concentration in the body.  When this occurs, oftentimes the brain will send a message to the body to awaken in order to regain some muscle tone for breathing, and the person will breathe and fall back into a deep sleep rather quickly (without the progression of stages that typically occurs during sleep).  Usually, the person is not aware at all that they have wakened during sleep.  These hypopnea and apnea episodes together constitute obstructive sleep apnea.  When they occur more than 5 times per hour, it is considered severe enough to warrant treatment.  When obstructive sleep apnea goes untreated for years, it contributes to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression.  In an effort to prevent this progression, physicians typically recommend that obstructive sleep apnea be treated once it is diagnosed.

Common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include waking up feeling tired, even after a good night’s sleep; feeling the need to nap during the day; finding oneself falling asleep easily sitting still, watching TV, reading a book, and/or driving; morning headaches or waking up with a headache; difficulty concentrating during the day; forgetfulness; depression; irritability; snoring; sexual dysfunction; and trouble getting out of bed in the morning.  The tiredness can and does involve all of the muscles in the body, including the vocal fold muscles, and vocal fatigue is a common symptom of sleep apnea among professional voice users. Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is aimed at getting rid of the obstruction or bypassing it.  Currently, the treatment of choice in the US is the use of continuous positive airway pressure (also called CPAP).  CPAP involves the use of a mask that is fitted either over the nose or over the nose and mouth and held into place at night while one sleeps.  A machine delivers a continuous stream of air that serves two purposes,  to help hold the airway open during sleep and secondly to help make sure that enough oxygen is delivered to the lungs to keep the oxygen levels in the tissues at levels suitable for normal functioning.  CPAP is the preferred treatment for obstructive sleep apnea because it works in 100% of the population who suffers from it.  However, there are some people who cannot tolerate wearing the mask throughout the night, either because of anxiety, feelings of suffocation, or social intolerance with a bed partner.  For these patients, surgery can sometimes improve sleep apnea, and in a select portion of the population, it can cure it.  Surgery is aimed at targeting the exact site of obstruction in the individual.  Surgery can include removal of the tonsils, trimming the palate and tightening it in the back of the throat (a procedure referred to as UPPP or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty), removing a portion of the tongue base, cauterizing the tongue base, advancing the jaws forward (by surgically breaking the jaws and repositioning them further forward on the face), by stimulating the tongue muscles (by placing electrodes on the nerves that move the tongue and stimulating those nerves with electrical pulses during sleep), or by tracheotomy.  Some oral appliances can also help to bring the tongue and palate more forward during sleep as well.  Weight loss of 10-20 pounds can help limit the severity of obstructive sleep apnea, and in some patients, it can eliminate it as well.  For those who use their voice professionally, caution should be exercised in deciding to proceed with surgery, as any surgery that will improve sleep apnea will necessarily affect the ability to control the resonance and projection of the voice.  

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Committee Chair Updates

Awards and Grants Committee

Barry Kur

The VASTA Awards, Scholarships and Grants Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Dorothy Mennen Research/Professional Development Grant Awards. Up to $1000 is granted to two proposals.

The first recipient is Natasha Staley, Associate Professor, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA.

In spring of 2018, she will work with collaborators from Virginia Tech University to present “Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes.”  She and her theatre colleague, Dr. Amanda Nelson will direct undergraduate theatre students to apply voice, speech, and text training to audio recordings of selected Shakespeare texts. Using voiceover as a medium, they will coach students to manifest clarity, dynamics, intelligibility, and expressivity in the voicing of the sonnets, soliloquies, and scenes. These Shakespeare “voiceovers” will be the focus of an immersive theatrical experience that seeks to examine innovative ways of hearing and comprehending Shakespearean texts.

Audience members will stroll through a virtual garden—guided by surround sound and projected visuals—and will stop at seven Shakespeare “stations” where they will listen to the recorded sonnets, soliloquies, and scenes.  There are plans to publish the outcome of this project in the Voice and Speech Review.

Co-investigators, Micha Espinosa, Associate Professor, Arizona State University and Cynthia Santos-Decure, Assistant Professor, University of California, Stanislaus, proposed the second project that was awarded this grant.

The funds will support completion of their text, Scenes for Latinx Actors: Voices of the New American Theatre. This book will be a resource guide that will feature over 30 scenes with commentary, introducing Latino/a actors to the wide range of possibilities for class and showcase material especially selected with their complex and dynamic cultural identity in mind.   This book is under contract with Smith and Krause with a completion date of Spring 2018.

Barry Kur, Committee Chair, stated that, “The quality of all of the proposals indicated that our VASTA colleagues continue to strive toward international/cultural expansion and intellectual depth.”

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Interdisciplinary Engagement Committee

Committee Chair: Colton Weiss

Article submitted by Pamela Prather

As a recipient of the 2017 VASTA Interdisciplinary Engagement Grant, I was able to travel to Snow Mass, Colorado this past June, and share my work with professionals at the PAMA (Performing Arts and Medical Association) Annual Conference.   I led a workshop on Laughing Voice® and presented the results from preliminary research I have been conducting on the efficacy of adding Laughing Voice® to a warm-up for performers. 

I have been exploring the transformational power of laughter and the voice for the performer for more than ten years.  Part of my exploration has included becoming certified as a Laughter Yoga Instructor.  Quite a lot of research has been conducted on Laughter Yoga and some of the benefits shown in research studies include:  (1) lower cortisol levels, (2) increase oxygynation in the system (3) release muscular tension.  Based on that research and having worked with actors for over 20 years, I concluded that building vocal exercises around laughter would likely be beneficial for the performer.   I hypothosized that if the performer could access quick and easy tools to add to his/her warm-up, then the results might include lower corstisol levels, increased oxygynation and relief of unnecessary tension.  It seemed to logically follow that these benefits would then allow one to potentially access enhanced vocal prosodic features (tune, rhythm, volume, dynamic range) while also feeling more at ease and present.

I was hoping to (1) meet medical professionals who could help me further my research in Laughing Voice ® (2) explore an organization that would be a good match for VASTA members to connect/collaborate with (3) learn more about the Performing Arts and Medical Association (PAMA)

Highlights/ Who are PAMA
PAMA is a worldwide organization of dedicated medical professionals, artists, educators, and administrators with the common goal of improving the health care of the performing artist.  PAMA holds an annual international symposium which focusses on the medical problems of performing artists.  These are normally held in June and include the presentations of papers, workshops and information sessions.   Generally the call for papers and presentations happens in August or September.  Next year,  the 36th annual symposium will be held at Chapman University in Orange, California – June 30th-July 3rd.   There are also regional meetings that are held.  In 2018 there is currently a regional conference that will be held June 1-3, 2018 in Florida  and the deadline to submit abstracts for the regional conference is January 12th.

As a teaching artist and person and one who is not formally trained as a medical professional, I was honored to present my preliminary research and a little nervous to be doing so in the company of so many medical professionals.  However, I found that the PAMA group was very welcoming and offered helpful feedback and support.  There were a number of presentations made by professors of dance and also singing professionals, however the “spoken voice” was definitely under-represented and I think that this is a wonderful organization for VASTA members to become involved with.  I would encourage members to attend PAMA meetings and to consider putting forth a proposal to present.  I was fortunate to meet a number of professionals who offered to help me refine my research and encouraged me to continue my work with laughter and voice.
I am extremely appreciative to the VASTA Engagement Committee for this opportunity.  I could not have attended this conference and met such interesting people without the financial support of VASTA.  I think that PAMA is a fantastic match for many VASTA members.  They have a call for papers and presentations in September and I encourage VASTA members to apply to present and attend in the future.

Note: Photo is with Dr. Mark Brodsky, President of PAMA

Five Days in Stockholm: The Ninth International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT9)

Article submitted by Matthew Hoch, DMA


In August of 2017, I had the privilege of attending the Ninth International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT9) in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference ran from August 2nd through 6th and was hosted by the Royal College of Music (Kungliga Musikhögskolan, or KMH). Thirty-seven countries were represented. My attendance at and participation in this conference was made possible in part by the VASTA Interdisciplinary Engagement Grant. With many varied conference tracks and literally dozens of sessions and performances occurring simultaneously over the course of five days, it was a stimulating, inspiring, and career-changing event. Many top-flight voice researchers were also in attendance, including Johan Sundberg and Scott McCoy, who each offered several presentations related to voice science and its applications.


The International Congress of Voice Teachers is a consortium of singing teacher organizations from around the globe. ICVT—essentially a massive joint conference—in recent decades has been held once every four years. The first conference was held in Strasbourg, France in 1987, and subsequent congresses were held in Philadelphia, United States (1991), Auckland, New Zeeland (1994), London, England (1997), Helsinki, Finland (2001), Vancouver, Canada (2005), Paris, France (2009), and Brisbane, Australia (2013). ICVT9 was hosted by the Voice Teachers of Sweden (VToS) as well as the European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA), who sponsored a young artist program that provided master class participants. The Tenth International Congress of Voice Teachers (ICVT10) will take place in Vienna, Austria, in the summer of 2021.


At ICVT9, I presented a session entitled “Fatigue Resistance Training: Application to the Singing Voice,” as well as two research posters: “Training Up for Extended Singing: Vocal Dose and Fatigue Consideration” and “Establishing a Systematic Pedagogy for Germanic Latin Pronunciation.” I was the first author on all studies, collaborating with Mary Sandage from Auburn University on two physiology studies and Cheri Montgomery from Vanderbilt University on the Germanic Latin topic. The theme of the 2017 conference was “Tradition and Science in Harmony.” While ICVT is unapologetically a conference of singing teachers, many of the presentations were very much geared toward voice science topics that are extremely relevant for all performance voice users, including the many acting voice specialists that comprise the majority of VASTA’s membership. I came away from the conference with many ideas for potential interdisciplinary collaborations in the future.


Stockholm proved itself to be the perfect venue for the conference. This beautiful Scandinavian city is comprised of fourteen islands and situated at the point where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Footbridges, docks, and shipyards are everywhere, and the medieval gamla stan (literally meaning “old town”) is a highlight for tourists. We also held the opening ICVT gala reception in Stockholm City Hall, famous throughout the world as the host venue for the annual Nobel Prize ceremony each December. Although Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia, it was very much a “pedestrian” city—it felt like a big small town, and the Swedish people that I encountered could not have been nicer. Another highlight for me was the intimate hotel at which I stayed and its magnificent meals. In particular, the delicious spread that was available for breakfast each morning was almost as memorable as the conference was.


I am grateful to VASTA for the opportunity to attend the Ninth International Congress of Voice Teachers and look forward to the interdisciplinary research that will unfold as a result of what I learned during my time in Stockholm.  


Matthew Hoch is Associate Professor of Voice and Coordinator of Voice Studies at Auburn University. He is the author of several books, including A Dictionary for the Modern Singer and Voice Secrets.


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Teaching and Learning Committee

Committee Chair: Diane Robinson

What Resonated on the Mat: Lessons in Learning and Teaching Vocal Yoga®

Article submitted by Stacey Cabaj

This summer I had the pleasure of attending the Teacher Certification program in Heather Lyle's Vocal Yoga Method®. While I anticipated that in the program I would learn a great deal about the mechanics of the technique, I was surprised by how much I also learned about the art of teaching. On her website, Lyle describes the work as the union of "Yoga, pranayama, Tai Chi, Alexander Technique, primal sounding, Bel Canto, sound healing, voice science...[which] promote[s] deep breathing, vocal power, and resonance." I found the approach immensely enjoyable and profoundly useful, and am excited to share it with my students in the M.F.A. Acting Program at Louisiana State University. Below are a few of the key principles that I plan to explore in my teaching as well as some invitations to reflect on these principles in your own classroom or coaching.


On Identity 

Sage on a Stage. Guide on the Side. Architect of Learning. These are a few of the many academic buzz phrases that describe a teacher's role in the learning process. The Vocal Yoga® certification program was the first time I encountered George Siemens' concept of the Educator as Curator.  Siemens explains that in his model:

A curator is an expert learner. Instead of dispensing knowledge, [s]he creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored, and connected. While curators understand their field very well, they don't adhere to traditional in class teacher centric power structures. A curator balances the freedom of individual learners with the thoughtful interpretation of the subject being explored. While learners are free to explore, they encounter displays, concepts, and artifacts representative of the discipline. Their freedom to explore is unbounded. But when they engage with subject matter, the key concepts of a discipline are transparently reflected through the curatorial actions of the teacher.[1]

In Lyle’s program, she assembled and interpreted a vast number of resources. (How thrilling it was to experience a comparative analysis of the breathing pedagogy of each of the major voice and singing traditions!) She then guided participants through immersive activities that allowed us to explore each concept in pairs or small groups. Finally, she solicited certain participants to share their expertise on various topics, capitalizing on the professional diversity of the attendees. It was a compelling learning environment, and I left humbled and exhilarated by the idea of curatorial learning.

Reflection: How do you envision your role(s) in the learning process? When and why might you transition between roles?


On Safety

One day in training, a young singer was working her voice very athletically and approaching the upper limit of her vocal range. She paused for a moment and said, "You know, I could probably go a little higher, but it doesn't feel like I could do it safely today." The yoga teachers in the room locked eyes and said: "Vocal Ahimsa!"

Ahimsa is a yogic principle commonly defined as non-violence or non-harming of living beings through one's thought, speech, or action. This notion can take many forms; in many western yoga (asana) classes, students are reminded to listen to their bodies and respect their own physical limitations. This is also useful to apply to vocal training, particularly when working on vocal extremes, primal sounding, or any other vocal acrobatics. As teachers, we must model and discuss the necessity of working at, not beyond, one's own intelligent edge. We can help our students/actors differentiate the sensations of sustainable and unsustainable voice use, and to prioritize their vocal safety and longevity.

Reflection:  What is your training maxim that reminds your students to check in with their body/breath/voice? How do you encourage them to explore fully and freely, while also honoring their limitations?


On Ritual

On the last day of the certification program, each participant taught a short practice class. One gentleman, a marvelous yoga teacher, ended his session with several words of gratitude: "I thank my teachers and my teachers' teachers."

This moved me to reflect on the rituals with which we begin and end our classes. I recalled that Janet Rodgers, my mentor in V.C.U.’s Voice and Speech Pedagogy Program, would sound a chime to begin and end each class, as her students sat in a circle, eyes-closed, mindfully listening. A recent alumna of our M.F.A. Acting program, Cara Reid, would close each session by sharing an amazing factoid or clip about the voice, fostering her students' curiosity. Over the years I've witnessed many teachers offer a directive or writing prompt on the board, inviting their students to begin an independent activity, warm-up, or journaling. Such rituals can set the tone of the class, create community, and allow learners to record or reflect on their experience.

Reflection: How might you intentionally use these moments of transition? What ritual practices, actions, or words can help you and your students to engage more mindfully and meaningfully with the learning process?

If you'd like to learn more about Heather Lyle's Vocal Yoga Method®, more information is available through:, Vocal Yoga: The Joy of Breathing Singing and Sounding, or Vocal Yoga: 44 Singing Exercises Audio CD.

[1] Siemens, George. “Curatorial Teaching.” Internet Archive, 2007,

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Freelance Coaching Column

Committee Chairs: Marina Tyndall and Lucinda Worlock

Article submitted by Meredith Colby

Freelancer Burnout

How Trying to Make More Money Could Cost You Everything

By Meredith Colby

I teach out of my house in a Chicago suburb. I don’t get as many glamour clients as I would downtown, but I love both the commute and the rent. For a long time, though, I taught from a shared studio on Michigan Ave. in Chicago’s Loop. While I did, I was acutely aware of the commute and the rent, and arranged my schedule to maximize my income. I would routinely schedule 30 students in three days. Thanks to the 80/20 law I never actually saw that many students in that time, but I did see a lot. Typically, eight or nine a day.

You read the title. You know what I’m going to tell you. And you’re right; I did burn out. Both on a daily basis, and overall.

We use the term “burnout” in a pretty cavalier way these days, but it’s a real thing. It’s ICD-10 description is “vital exhaustion,” which I think is interesting, because it means that even the government (the Center for Disease Control publishes the ICD) recognizes that you’re sick when you run out of juice, or “vitality”.

Some of the symptoms of a private voice teacher or coach experiencing burnout would be:

Dreading your client days

Feeling angry at all your clients when one of them has a payment or scheduling issue

Feeling relieved when clients cancel

Spending too much time chatting with your clients, not much time teaching

Letting your client “lead” the lesson

Having little to no interest in continued professional learning

Allowing boundaries to blur; making friends with your clients

Forgetting, or failing to journal, ongoing clients’ weekly sessions

Those are some long-term symptoms. But burnout can happen in a single day, as well. You may have felt that way. It’s something you just can’t explain to anyone who is not a fellow voice teacher/coach (or a therapist). It’s the reality that every client takes a little piece of you when they walk out your door. Your energy merges with theirs. You give them your knowledge and experience; you’re psychologically and emotionally invested in their success, often wanting more for them than they want for themselves. And then they leave your studio with the chi…the energy…the mojo that you gave them. They didn’t do anything bad. That’s just the deal. But it leaves you feeling depleted.

If you’ve only seen one or two clients, you can take a little break, have a cup of tea, and get back to normal. But if you’ve seen a number of clients in a day, you’re spent. I remember leaving my Michigan Ave. studio feeling as though my legs were made of lead, and my head filled with jell-o. I could barely construct a sentence, and often couldn’t remember if I’d driven or taken the train to work. Sometimes my boyfriend would pick me up and wonder why I was so tired. All I’d done was sit on my keister playing scales all day…how hard was that?

The truth is that burnout is real, and over time can actually alter neural circuits and lead to neurological dysfunction.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recruited a group of 40 subjects with formally diagnosed burnout symptoms, and 70 healthy volunteers with no history of chronic stress. The researchers focused on activity in brain areas involved in processing and regulating emotions. They found that the burnout group had enlarged amygdalae – two sets of neurons that are part of the limbic system and that play a key role in processing emotions – and weaker connections between it and brain areas linked both to emotional distress and to executive functioning.

What that means for you is that, in burnout mode, you have a hard time controlling your negative emotions and behaviors. It also means that your ability to reason is impaired. And the longer this neurological situation goes on, the harder it is to reverse.

You’re probably not great about taking care of yourself. Most of us aren’t. But for the sake of your long-term health, as well as your relationships and livelihood, it’s time to start instituting some behaviors that will allow you to replenish your life vitality.

Schedule breaks, both in your day and in your year

You can spend those short breaks in your day doing more, or other, work. That’s fine, but you might also want to consider taking time to read, or listen to music, or enjoy a podcast. All of those things are important to your overall knowledge and well-being.

When you go on vacation, whether for two days or two weeks, unplug. Set up your email with the automatic vacation response. Put your phone on silent and only use the camera function. You’re not a heart surgeon. There’s no problem your students have that they can’t solve themselves if they have to.

Raise your prices, stash some nuts

Could you take two fewer clients each week if you raised your prices? A healthy You is in everyone’s best interest. I promise that you’ll be surprised by how chill everyone is about your fee increase.

You shouldn’t work “whenever you can.” Put away some money every week so that you can take time off without panicking.

Do something else

You probably think that you’re busy enough with just your teaching and performing schedule. And you are. But you can find a couple of hours every month to feed a part of yourself that isn’t the teacher or performer. Volunteer, or turn an interest into a hobby.

Join a group

Join a group you don’t have to audition for. A professional teachers group, a volunteer group, or an arts board would be fun, expansive, and great networking.

Find or create a niche or specialty

Focusing on being a coach or teacher for a particular group of people will, over time, create a stronger client base that is willing to pay more. You will also start to get opportunities to provide services to your niche in new and different ways.

Take voice lessons or get therapy

Seriously. Let someone pay attention to you for a change!

Your clients love you. Your friends and family love you. Everyone will support your decisions to take care of yourself. I know it’s not easy, but give it a try.



Self-care as an ethical imperative. Jeffrey E. Barnett, Jeffrey E. Barnett, Psy.D., ABPP .,

Burnout and the brain. Alexandra Michel

Burnout: Recognize the signs and avoid it. Howard Spector

How to Recover from Yoga Teacher Burnout. Kate Middleton

Therapist Burnout. Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP


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Conference and Membership Updates

Kate Clarke                                                                                                                     Rachel Hirshorn 

Conference Directors:

Marci Rosenberg (PAVA)

Kate Clarke & Rachel Hirshorn-Johnston (VASTA)






VASTA Conference- Soma and Science:

Bridging the Gap in Interdisciplinary Voice Training





Request for Proposals

Please Submit Your Proposal HERE

The Voice & Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) and the Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) warmly welcome proposals for our August 2018 Joint Conference: “Soma and Science: Bridging the Gap in Interdisciplinary Voice Training” in one of following forms: a paper presentation, a workshop, panel discussion, and/or poster presentation. 

Our combined conference creates a unique interdisciplinary focus this year. Strong encouragement and specific consideration are given to proposals that address and incorporate components of two or more disciplines.

All proposals must be received no later than FEBRUARY 19th, 2018.

Proposals should address:  

How does this “Bridge the Gap” between Science and Soma?  
What is the Interdisciplinary component?  
If it doesn’t exist yet, where COULD it?


Artists and Medicine: 

What is our role as researchers, teachers, and practitioners in moving these practices forward together?



“Arts and medicine were always connected: Ars Medicinae, “The Art of Healing.” Due to the rapid development of technology in the last 100 years, our attention was drawn to the physical realm, and we lost our connection with the deep and powerful mystery of our consciousness. Re-integrating arts and medicine can restore that connection…If ARTS affect emotions, and EMOTIONS affect health then arts affect HEALTH.” 

 Iva Fattorini, Chair of the Global Arts and Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, Chair of the Global Arts and Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic, “Arts & Medicine. Do It.”, Huffington Post



Soma - pertaining to the body, independent of the soul, psyche, or mind.

Science - the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Interdisciplinary: - Of or relating to more than one branch of knowledge.



1. A workshop using myofascial techniques to improve resonant voice or freer breath combines the body-based discipline of myofascial release, with a focus on vocal production.  

2. A presentation combining elements of performance technique plus real-life applications that lie outside of the performing arts.   (i.e. Alexander Technique used in both Performance and Occupational Therapy)



These will be 13-15 minutes in length and can include research papers, clinical practice review, or innovative application of a method. Powerpoint Podium Presentations with an interdisciplinary focus are strongly encouraged but all are considered. 



These sessions will be experiential, with a preferred emphasis on the innovative and interdisciplinary. These workshops tend to be more physical in nature and should invite participation from all attendees.  The majority of the workshop should be spent in engaged in activity rather than explanation. 

To allow for longer experiences within these sessions, there will be a limited number of full-length workshops selected. There are several other opportunities to present. We are also calling for proposals for a “micro-workshop” option (see below for description).



Panel discussions will focus on a more in-depth discussion of a topic from the perspective of multiple disciplines and will be invited based on conference content.  If you have specific and relevant ideas for a panel discussion, please contact the conference directors directly (contact information below).



A Research Poster should be a general overview of your scientific study. Topics focus on voice/vocology but can be more general if there is not a strong interdisciplinary component.  Photos and graphs should be used to highlight data. The standard size of a research poster must be 36x48 (Standard).



Like the proposals being requested, we are innovating our standard presentation format.  Think of the micro-workshops as the “chef’s tasting menu”.  Small, bite-sized presentations of information. 

Examples of Microworkshops:  

“3 applications of the flow ball for monitoring breath control in speech and song.”
“Integrating Fitzmaurice Voicework® with a transgender population.”

Presenters will have 10 minutes to introduce and briefly explore/teach your topic/technique to rotating groups of 6-12 conference attendees. Conference participants will rotate around to numerous workshops of interest. Providing visual, audio, and any other augmentative devices that will enhance the understanding of your technique is strongly encouraged. However, these should NOT be powerpoint presentations. Also, the presenter should anticipate small spaces and self-supplied technology.  

Please also consider crafting a poster, which can include photos and more in-depth descriptions.  Presenters will provide a handout or written description summarizing your micro-workshop that will be available electronically. 

These workshops are perfect for new concepts, burgeoning ideas or techniques. Ideally, a proposal should be a “soma-focused” idea that could potentially be applicable in numerous interdisciplinary settings. Consider the timeframe and logistics of this format when submitting a proposal. For example, you would not likely have access to a piano for these. 



Proposals for both full-length, as well as Micro-Workshops, are encouraged in order to maximize the number of presenters.


First-time poster or micro workshop presenter?  

Have an idea, but don’t know how to “flesh it out”?  We are here to help you make your ideas a reality!

Please Contact: 

Amy Chaffee (Soma-Science-based interests)

Marci Rosenberg (Research-based interests)


CEU Questions?

Please Contact:

Mara Kapsner-Smith 


General Proposal Submission Questions?

Please Contact:

Adriano Cabral (IT related only)


Conference Directors:

Marci Rosenberg (PAVA)

Kate Clarke & Rachel Hirshorn-Johnston (VASTA)


Finally, don't forget to check out the Seattle Welcome Packet online now!:


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Voice and Speech Review

Rockford Sansom

Hello VASTA Community, 

Exciting things are afoot at the VSR.

1) Check your mailbox

The VSR mailed our 2016 Volume 10 print edition in October, and the 2017 Volume 11 print edition was sent to the printer on December 22! Please allow up to two months to receive the printed edition, since with Routledge different continents print at different times. There are many exciting changes and updates in the 2017 volume; we are excited to share it with you.

2) New articles are always online

You never have to wait for the yearly printed edition. New articles appear online all the time. Login to the VASTA website, and then click on the VSR link on the homepage. You can access all content new and old there. 

3) The VSR website has gotten a complete makeover.

There’s more information, easier-to-use submission guidelines, lists of authors resources, frequently asked questions, and more. Go to:

4) Themed Issue deadline extension

Because of increased interest, we are extending the deadline for the special themed issue: The History of Vocal Pedagogy. This new deadline is July 1, 2018.

The VSR does still accept other articles for future general issues. (Those articles do NOT need to follow the special theme.)  We are already accepting articles for 2019. (Yes, that’s 2019!) You may already submit your article now for 2019 consideration, but the first 2019 deadline will be Oct. 15, 2018. All articles are considered in the order they are received.

Please submit all initial drafts to the Editor ( You will then be paired with an Associate Editor who will assist you through the editing process.

5) New VSR Awards

 The VSR Editorial Board and VASTA Board recently approved several new awards for the VSR. We are excited to recognize outstanding voice research, and we are honored to memorialize two leaders in the field. The Dudley Knight Award for Outstanding Vocal Scholarship is named in memory of Dudley Knight, a former VSR Editor-in-Chief and Distinguished VASTA member. The award is open to peer reviewed academic and research articles. The Rocco Dal Vera Graduate Research Award is named in memory of Rocco Dal Vera, the founding VSR Editor-in-Chief and Distinguished VASTA member. This award is open to articles that were based on graduate research. See all of our 2016 winners below:

2016 VSR Awards 

2016 Dudley Knight Award for Outstanding Vocal Scholarship

Deric McNish

The performance of fluency 

2016 VSR Forum Article of the Year Award

Shannon Holmes

Autoethnography and voicework: Autobiographical narrative and self-reflection as a means towards free vocal expression 

2016 Rocco Dal Vera Graduate Research Award  

Melissa Kollwitz

Breath, tremoring, and performance anxiety: How can Fitzmaurice Voicework’s Destructuring address performance anxiety in undergraduate acting training?


Feel free to reach out. We’re always glad to help.



Rockford Sansom, VSR Editor-in-Chief


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Member News

Lauren Murphy Yeoman

Lauren Murphy Yeoman headshot 2017Hello, VASTA! 

Below please find Member News for members with last names beginning P-Z.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, at

Thank you very much!                                                                                          

Lauren Murphy Yeoman                                                                                      

Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice

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Kendra KingsburyKENDRA KINGSBURY (Chicago, IL) is a corporate and theatrical voice, speech and life coach working in the greater Chicago area. She has been traveling all over the world this past year to continue researching and studying voice technique and how it correlates with yoga. Kendra completed Heather Lyle’s Vocal Yoga® certification this past June and moved to Associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®(!!). Her current focus is developing a voice course for yoga instructors to utilize healthy habits while teaching with music in the background or outside, fighting the elements. She is also planning to move to Denver in January to work for fellow VASTA member Hilary Blair at Articulate: Real&Clear® and she couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.

Artemis Preeshl. Union Institute and University awarded a Doctorate in Higher Education to Dr. Preeshl in June.Artemis Preeshl photo She conducted research on dissertation on “Theatre Training in the Digital Age: Acting in American Theatre and Film Bachelor of Arts & Fine Arts Programs.”  Artemis coached Ashkenazi, Boston, and Philadelphia accents for Artspot/Mondo Bizarro's Way at Midnight for the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans and the Wolfman's movement for Loom, a feature film directed by Kevin Rothlisberger. At VASTA Asia, Dr. Preeshl presented “Whose Story Is It Anyway? Bangsawan as Social Commentary", "Self-Reflection as a Rehearsal Method in Albertine In Five Times", and “Show Me The Money." and "The Impact of 16th Century Lazzi on Commedia in Shakespeare's Plays" at the Shakespeare Theatre Conference at Stratford, Canada and "Tudor court performance Foretells Italianate Elizabethan Performances" at the Asian Shakespeare Association in Delhi. Artemis directed two short films, Dr. Chevalier's Lie and Ripe Figs, in New Orleans. She performed her one-woman show, Dead While I Was Alive, in New Orleans and on the Diversity Cabaret in Singapore. Artemis was certified as an Expressive Actor Teacher through Michael Lugering's VASTA scholarship. Artemis is delighted to teach dialects, acting, and advanced movement at Elon University this year. Routledge published Dr. Preeshl's book, Shakespeare and Commedia dell'arte: Play by Play, in June.

Lucille Rubin photoLucille S. Rubin, PHD (New York, NY) coached performers in Anastasia and Notes from the Field plus numerous voice over actors and corporate clients; Completed yearly update of The Voice Handbook; Continues to send newsletters of “The Performer’s Voice” targeting live theatre and musicals while the “Speaker’s Voice” addresses needs of the Public Speaker; Serves on the Voice Faculty a the Circle in the Square Theatre School for actors and singers; Is active in the Voice Foundation’s symposium Care and Training of the Professional Voice where she coaches both podium and poster presentations; Initiated design for the 2016 symposium with support from Dr. Robert Sataloff for an extended session on developing vocal potential. Outstanding contributions were presented by renowned Michael Sheehan, SLP Mara Behlau and our own star, Bonnie Raphael; Dr. Rubin is a founding and honorary member of VASTA and continues to support VASTA’s outstanding contributions.

Phil Timberlake photo PHIL TIMBERLAKE (Chicago, IL) spent spring 2016 on sabbatical from DePaul University in England's Lake District, working on an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. The adaptation is being workshopped with Lifeline Theatre in Chicago. He flew back in time to work as VASTA's Associate Conference Director in Chicago. Phil and Marya Lowry co-taught a Roy Hart Theatre Voice workshop following the conference. The past year included guest teaching at Western Michigan University (Fitzmaurice Voicework/ Roy Hart Voice). This past autumn, Phil headed to Principia College for more guest teaching. He looks forward to heading back to the Roy Hart Centre in Malerargues, France for a Teachers gathering next spring.

LYNN WATSON (UMBC, Baltimore) attended the Singapore VASTA conference in August where, along with co-investigator Rachel Hirshorn, she presented results from their fMRI study on Fitzmaurice Voicework. Co-investigator Dr. Tyler Davis joined the presentation via videoconference for a Q&A. In summer 2016, she taught speech in the Fitzmaurice Voicework certification program. Current and recent voice and dialects projects include Death of a Salesman (Ford’s Theatre), Pajama Game and Carousel (Arena Stage), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Round House Theatre) and Twelfth Night at UMBC.

Lauren Yeoman photoLAUREN MURPHY YEOMAN (Los Angeles, CA) teaches on the voice faculty at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts. This year Lauren coached for USC’s season productions of The Rivals, Passion Play, Punk Rock, and the New Works Festival. She performed in The Road Theatre Company’s Summer Playwrights’ Festival and in the Off-Road series production, Four Chambers. She is researching vocal violence, endurance and psychophysical cooldown methods.


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VASTA Board of Directors & Officers

Board of Directors

Betty Moulton
2016 - 2018

Lynn Watson
Past President
2016 - 2018

Michael Barnes
President Elect
2016 - 2018





Michelle Lopez-Rios

Ursula Meyer

John Graham

Erika Bailey

Julia Guichard

Pamela Prather

Micha Espinosa

Antonio O'Campo-Guzman





Tamara Meneghini-Stalker  

Chaslee Schweitzer

Rockford Sansom
Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Jeff Morrison
Associate Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Lisa Nathans
Editor, The VASTA Voice

Lauren Murphy Yeoman
Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice

Thrasso Petras
Director of Membership

Kate Clarke & Rachel Hirshorn-Johnson
Director of Annual Conferences

Marie Downing
ATHE Conference Planner
Cynthia DeCure
Associate ATHE Conference Planner
Rene Pulliam
ATHE Focus Group Representative

Cynthia Bassham
Human Resources Director

Michael J. Barnes
Senior Technical Director

Adriano Cabral
Director of Technology/Internet Service 

Kendra Kingsbury
Associate Director of Technololgy/Internet Service
2017 -

Yolanda Heman-Ackah

 Associate Officers

Amy Stoller
Editor, VASTA Links Page

Flloyd Kennedy
Editor, Workshop & Events Page

Janet B. Rodgers
VASTA Archive Catalogist 

Brad Gibson

Judd Johnson
Social Media Manager

Josh Moser
Social Media Content Manager







Committee Chairs

Barry Kur
 Awards and Grants Committee

Cynthia DeCure
 Diversity Committee

Colton Weiss
Interdisciplinary Engagement Committee

Diane Robinson
Teaching and Learning Committee

Daron Oram
Global Membership Group

Dolly May
Business and Corporate Consulting Group





Contact Information Available at VASTA.ORG


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©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association