The VASTA Voice

Volume 10, Issue 1
January 2015


Table of Contents:

A Message from the President
Letter from the Editor
     Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Vocal Performance
Committee Chair Updates
     Cirque Des Voix/Circus of Voices
     Engagement Committee Udate
     Announcement: New VASTA Treasurer
Diversity Committee Update
Tech Corner
     Dropbox as a Coaching Tool and a Call for Submissions
Diveristy Column
    Identity in Diversity: The First Ibero-American and Word Conference
We Need Submissions for the VSR
Freelance Column
     An Interview with Mary McDonald-Lewis
Member News: South


A Message from the President

Lynn Watson

Lynn Watson

Dear Colleagues,

The VASTA Board of Directors met in Arlington, Virginia over the weekend of December 12, 2014, and the agenda was a full one. We reviewed preparations for the 2015 Montréal conference—“Cirque des Voix/Circus of Voices: One Ring, Many Sounds”—with Director of Conferences Pamela Prather reporting on the planning that’s underway for an exciting group of presenters and events. The conference will be hosted by Concordia University, and our official hotel is the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. Other highlights from the meeting were a report by Voice and Speech Review (VSR) Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Morrison, and reports on the work of the committees and officers of VASTA who lend their time, talent, and expertise to make possible the ongoing vitality of the organization.

Jeff Morrison reported that the first print volume of the new incarnation of VSR published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis was recently mailed to VASTAns whose membership was current as of August 1, 2014. Going forward, this will be the model for the revamped VSR. Each year, three digital issues will be released online, and the full articles contained in each issue will be immediately accessible to VASTAns whose membership is paid/current by logging on to the VASTA website and accessing the articles from there. At the end of each year, the three issues will be collected in a print volume and mailed to members whose dues are current as of August 1. This year’s publication of VSR marks a crucial milestone for VASTA, and for the voice and speech training field. Some 15 years ago, Rocco Dal Vera designed and edited the inaugural issue of VSR, an undertaking that many had opined could not be done. After all, it was thought, voice trainers were action-oriented practitioners and not likely to be attracted to the introspective process of writing about their work. But write they (and many of you!) did—several hundred articles, essays, columns, editorials and reviews to date, comprising an impressive collection of research, opinion, and “studio wisdom.” The move to an electronic journal published by highly regarded Routledge/T&F means that the writing of VASTA members and other specialists published in VSR will now be accessed and cited by researchers in other fields. It also means that audio, video, and other illustrative online material can be included in articles, with embedded URLs taking readers to resources not available in a print-only journal. All of this is cause for celebration! Special recognition is due to Rocco Dal Vera for proposing and making the initial contact with Routledge, and to Jeff Morrison for his diligence, expertise and thoughtful planning leading to the successful launch of the first e-VSR. Hurray!! Huzzah!! Jobs well done--many jobs done by many folks!!!

Now that the new VSR publication model is up and running, we need to maintain a steady flow of article submissions. To that end, we are asking that everyone who submits a proposal to present a paper at the VASTA conference also agrees to submit the paper to VSR for consideration for publication. To read more about that process and the call for VSR material, see Jeff’s piece in this newsletter.

In future Voice issues, I will talk more about the work of VASTA committees and officers. Wishing you vocal health and happiness in the New Year!

-Lynn Watson



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Letter from the Editor

Keely Wolter

Hello again from the freezing north!  As I write this I am looking out my window at a pretty substantial Keely WolterMinnesota snowfall with sub zero temperatures, and I am trying desperately to find the will to shovel my car out of a snow bank and head to rehearsal.

The new year is meant to be a time of starting fresh, renewing goals, and finding new inspirations, but I am finding the start of 2015 to be a little stuttered and stunted (much like my car engine will sound when I finally get out there to start it up).

Here’s hoping that this issue of the VASTA Voice will warm your cockles with thoughts of the upcoming summer conference in Montreal, and stoke the flames of professional inspiration with committee updates, member news, tech ideas, and our first ever audio article.  Plus the ever amazing Yolanda Heman-Ackah has shared her wisdom with us once again, with a fabulous article on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Vocal Performance during this chilly time of year.

I'm also very excited to announce the addition of a comments section to the VASTA Voice.  Using your Facebook account, you can now leave comments following each article.  The addition of comments will further integrate idea-sharing and communciation among the membership.

As ever, I look forward to hearing your ideas, news, questions, and contributions.  Please get in touch!

Warm Wishes,

Keely Wolter

Editor VASTA Voice



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Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Vocal Performance

Dr. Yolanda Heman-Ackah

One of the most difficult aspects of vocal performance in the winter months is trying to overcome the effects of upper respiratory tract infections (URI’s) on the voice. Illnesses ranging from the common cold to the flu, laryngitis, sinus infections, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and GI infections can affect the voice either directly or indirectly. Illnesses that affect the vocal folds directly tend to cause swelling of the tissue of the vocal folds, which then causes hoarseness. Such illnesses include laryngitis, the flu, the common cold, and sometimes bronchitis. If the vocal folds are swollen as a direct result of infection, any form of vocal performance that requires projection of the voice, control of pitch or tone of the voice, or variations in character of the voice should be avoided. The reason to avoid vocal performance in these instances is that voice control in these situations requires the ability to change the tension and tone of the vocal folds in a predictable manner, and swollen vocal folds are unable to do so predictably or reliably. Any efforts to produce a particular sound or volume will cause strain on the vocal fold lining tissue because more air pressure from the lungs is needed to get the vocal folds to vibrate in these instances and greater tension from the accessory muscles of phonation is needed to get the vocal folds to close with the right amount of force to entrain vibration of the vocal folds. The risk to the vocal folds of doing so is of tearing of the lining tissue of the vocal folds (Figure 1) and/or bleeding into the vocal folds, which is technically known as vocal fold hemorrhage (Figure 2). 

Figure 1. Right vocal fold tear (black arrow) from coughing during a URI with reactive thickening (purple arrow) of the left vocal fold


Figure 1.  Right vocal fold tear (black arrow) from coughing during a URI with reactive thickening (purple arrow) of the left vocal fold


Figure 2. Right vocal fold hemorrhage (blue arrow) from singing during a URI



Figure 2. Right vocal fold hemorrhage (blue arrow) from singing during a URI



Both of these conditions can cause permanent damage to the vocal folds. Usually, when the vocal folds are swollen from an infection involving the larynx, the voice will be hoarse. When the voice is hoarse during an upper respiratory tract infection, the best recommendation is to rest the voice, maintain hydration by drinking lots of fluids, avoid caffeine intake and the intake of other substances that are drying the larynx, and to wait for the voice to return to normal before resuming performance. This course of treatment will ensure the quickest return to performance with the least potential for long term complications. Directors, producers, and promoters should be supportive of this choice of management and prepare winter productions with adequate numbers of understudies and cast who are capable of filling in for a role should someone in the cast become ill.

Directors, producers, and promoters should also encourage the entire cast to get the flu shot early in the flu season (i.e. September or October) to minimize the number of cast members who become sick during a production. The first 5 days of a URI are the days when one is most likely to transmit the infection to another person, and the cast should be encouraged to stay home when they are sick early in the course of a URI to minimize the risk of spread of the illness to the other members of the cast. Most upper respiratory tract infections are spread through contact with respiratory droplets from the infected individual. This usually occurs when one touches something that an infected individual has touched after wiping his/her nose, blowing his/her nose, or covering his/her mouth while coughing.  It can also occur from inhaling respiratory droplets from someone who coughs or sneezes in close vicinity (i.e. within 3 feet of where one is situated). If it is imperative that a cast member be at rehearsals while sick, he/she should wear a face mask and gloves the entire time that he/she is in the vicinity of the other cast members to help prevent the spread of his/her infection to others. Early during the course of a URI, one should consider sucking on zinc lozenges to help shorten the course of the infection. Echinacea and AirborneTM both help to boost the immune system and should also be taken early in the course of an infection to help minimize the duration of the illness.

Although steroids can be given to help decrease the swelling in the vocal folds, they should be avoided as much as possible. The steroids will make the voice sound better and will permit vocal performance. However, one must remember that the tissue of the vocal folds is still very fragile from the infection and still very much at risk for hemorrhage and tearing. It will usually take longer to recover from the hemorrhage and/or tear than it will to recover from the infection itself, and the damage from hemorrhage and tearing can become permanent and career ending.

Individuals who have sinus infections, the common cold, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and/or GI infections usually do not have swelling on the vocal folds. These infections can affect vocal performance because they indirectly affect the vocal folds. Sinus infections and the common cold usually cause swelling in the nose that can affect one’s ability to perceive the projection in the voice and a postnasal drip that can drip onto the vocal folds and cause irritation there. Nasal decongestants such as oxymetazoline and phenylephrine nasal sprays used twice daily for no more than 5 days total are very helpful in limiting the degree of nasal congestion and minimizing drip onto the vocal folds. These are also helpful in those who have ear infections in that they help the ears to drain their infections into the nose, thus limiting the duration of ear infections and the aural fullness (and hence limited ability to modulate the volume of one’s voice) that usually occurs with ear infections. Bronchitis and pneumonia typically cause a cough, and it is the cough that can be damaging to the vocal folds. Left untreated, coughing can cause vocal fold nodules, which themselves can cause permanent damage. Mucinex DMTM is probably the best commercially available cough medicine in that it helps to thin the secretions causing the chest infection so that it is easier to get the infectious material out of the chest while at the same time suppressing the cough that is irritating to the vocal folds. If one has a cough that is not effectively suppressed by Mucinex DMTM, it is imperative that one contacts his/her physician for prescription medication to suppress the cough because excessive coughing can cause vocal fold nodules, vocal fold hemorrhage and/or vocal fold tearing as well. GI infections often are accompanied by vomiting, and it is the vomiting that is damaging to the vocal folds. If vomiting is an issue, one should contact his/her physician for a prescription for an anti-emetic to help settle the vomiting. One should also take an over the counter reflux medication such as omeprazole (PrilosecTM), esomeprazole (NexiumTM), lansoprazole (PrevacidTM), or rabeprazole (AciphexTM) to help limit the effect of the acid in the vomited material on the vocal folds. All of the over the counter reflux medications contain half the amount of medication that comes in the prescription dose, and when taking them, 2 tablets once a day should be taken to get the prescription equivalent of the medication.

So the take home message of this article is: If you are sick and your voice is hoarse, rest your voice, drink lots of fluids, boost your immune system, and return to performance after the voice is better. If you are sick and your voice is not hoarse, use a nasal decongestant for nasal congestion or aural fullness, use a cough suppressant for cough, use an anti-emetic and reflux medication for vomiting. For any illness that lasts longer than a week, make an appointment to see your physician for care.

Have a happy and healthy winter season!



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Committee Chair Updates


Cirque des Voix/ Circus of Voices

Pamela Prather

This year's annual VASTA conference will be held in Montréal, Québec August 2-5 2015.  This conference follows ATHE, and will also be the shorter format (similar to Minneapolis). Our official hotel is the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth and our host institution is Concordia.  We have a block of rooms at a discounted rate, so please make your reservations soon!

We are focusing on Canadian presenters. It is really challenging trying to fit all that we would like to into two and a half days, but suffice to say it will be jam-packed and we will just scratch the surface of possibilities. We will soon have final commitments and be able to share those details with you.

In addition, a major part of the conference is member presentations - so be sure to submit your proposals for papers/panels/workshops. The deadline has been extended to January 15th.  We are especially interested in ideas that incorporate the theme of bringing varied voices into a "one-ring circus".

Registration will be Sunday August 2nd, starting in the afternoon. We will host an opening session around 5pm. This promises to be a festive cocktail party with music, food and wine. Time to re-connect with old friends and meet new ones.

The closing ceremonies will be Wednesday August 5th around mid-day.  

For more details go to

If you would like to volunteer time or have some particular ideas for content, please contact Pamela Prather, for 2015.



Engagement Committee Update
Joanna Battles

Joanna Battles

Happy New Year, VASTA Community, from the Engagement Committee!

If you’re anything like me, as a Voice & Speech professional, you are already engaged in your own communities, forging ties with other groups in the educational and private business sectors. For example, next week I will be an adjudicator for the 2015 John Burroughs School Shakespeare Recitation Competition as part of the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare competition. Although this work is pro bono, I am happy to do it, to get the word out about the importance of Voice and Speech training, and of the organization of VASTA, to a wider audience. Outside of my normal duties as an Assistant Professor of Voice and Speech, I am often asked to judge performance competitions, and/or to lead Voice and Speech focused workshops for local groups and businesses outside of academia. I am guessing this is the same for many of you since we are in the business of something so valuable, so essential to human interaction and connection, verbal communication. These events are perfect opportunities for you to positively advocate for VASTA and the work of our many productive members.

In an effort to understand the needs of our growing VASTA community, and how VASTA members can have a greater impact on each of our individual communities, the Engagement Committee would love to hear about the work you are already doing in forging strong relationships within your own markets. We have created a VASTA workshop feedback form that will be available in the members only section of the VASTA website with the hopes that you will report your activity, and provide us with valuable feedback to help you in your efforts to represent VASTA well.

As always, if you are interested in getting further involved in the Engagement Committee, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Here’s to a healthy, and productive 2015!




Artemis Preeshl

Artemis Preeshl is our new VASTA Treasurer, taking over the reigns from Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, who served in the position for the last five years. Artemis is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she teaches advanced acting, acting for the camera, Shakespeare in performance, movement, dialects, voice and speech. 

Please contact her via email:




Diversity Committee Update

Michelle Lopez Rios

Michelle Lopez-RiosHappy New Year VASTA members! Just a reminder that the following scholarships are available for the Montreal Conference. Please share this information with colleagues and students!

2015 VASTA Montreal Conference Diversity/International Scholarships

The Diversity and International Committees are proud to announce the 2015 VASTA Conference Diversity/International Scholarships. VASTA as an organization values the benefit of hearing the voices and ideas of a diverse group of practitioners. These scholarships will provide an opportunity for a practitioner from an under-represented population to attend the VASTA Conference. VASTA will offer two (2) $750 Scholarships to early career voice practitioners to attend the VASTA Conference in Montreal August 2-5, 2015. In addition, the conference fee will be waived.

These scholarships are intended for:

1.Εarly career voice practitioners. This may include someone at the end of their graduate studies, a freelance adjunct professor (tenure-track professors are not encouraged to apply)

2.Members who demonstrate a need.

3.Practitioners who have attended no more than one conference.

4.And one (or more) of the following:

Practitioners that reside outside of Canada & The United States,

Practitioners that identify as a member of a diverse group (including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexual orientation, and/or gender identification), and/or Practitioners that are non-native English speakers.

Applicants for the Diversity/International Scholarships should submit the following:

1) A 2-page condensed C.V. (with contact info) and

2) A statement which includes:

Affirmation that you meet the first three requirements, Self-identification as a member of an international or diverse community, and Explanation of how attending the conference would benefit your practice and career.

Scholarship recipients will be asked to write about their experience at the conference or how their experience at the conference affected their work. Scholarship recipients will be invited to serve on the International Committee or Diversity Committee.

Please Note: Applicants need not be a current VASTA member. Please submit your materials in .doc or .pdf format via e-mail to Michelle Lopez-Rios by the March 30, 2015 deadline.



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Tech Corner

Dropbox as a Coaching tool and a Call for Submissions

Joshua Moser

Joshua MoserI'm always looking for ways to streamline how students, casts, or clients receive information from me. As much as possible, I try to keep it environmentally and wallet friendly, not just for my sake, but also for the 'starving artists' that I work with. The nifty storage website, Dropbox, has proven useful in this endeavor. Not only can it be accessed from any web browser, but it also has a mobile app that allows you to upload files directly from your tablet.

Money conscious students will be pleased to find a free option that has a limited, but generous, amount of storage space for video files, audio files, pictures, or documents. As an added bonus, completing a few simple tasks - like downloading the app to your phone or inviting some friends to join - gets you some extra storage space.

Beside each folder or file, a share button can be found. You can allow your students or cast to simply view the file or create a shared folder which allows them to upload files to the folder as well. It has proven to be the easiest way of sharing large files with large groups of people in one sitting, without the hassle of transferring information to jump drives that can be easily damaged or lost. The mobile app option allows the material for class or production to be available on smartphone or tablet for easy access anywhere. 

Now, fellow VASTAns, we want to hear from you! What is your favorite way of incorporating technology into your studio, classroom, or coaching work?? Write up a potential article and send it over to for issue number two of The VASTA Voice!



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Diversity Column


Identity in Diversity: The First Ibero-American Voice & Word Conference

Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Antonio Ocampo-GuzmanConvened by the Centro de Estudios Para el Uso de la Voz (CEUVOZ), theatre artists and voice professionals from the twenty countries in Ibero-America came together with colleagues from the thirty-two states in the Mexican Republic and from several other teaching institutions in the capital, for a week long Encuentro, held in Mexico City on the first week of October 2014. It was an incredible opportunity to share our stories of fearlessness, courage, violence, violations, political strife, hope, hunger for knowledge, and the immense love we feel for our countries, our art, our teaching and the world of voice.

I would like to share with all of you the closing declaration of the event:




After five days of intensive exchange of information on the status of voice work in our countries, as well as of practical work shared by all the artists-teachers in attendance at the 1st Ibero-American Voice & Word Conference, Identity in Diversity, held in Mexico City from November 1st to 5th 2014, organized by the CEUVOZ (Center for the Study of the Use of Voice), we, the representatives from the twenty countries in Ibero-America, from the thirty-two states of the Mexican Republic, as well as CEUVOZ’ sister schools and teachers of the institution, conclude that:

Spanish is the language that we share with millions of people in almost every continent, the Caribbean and Spain, after the painful conquest and colonization that also unites us with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in North Africa, and with the Philippines. We recognize that this common language­­––given its richness, variety and music, which has so many different melodies precisely because of the contributions that our many indigenous languages have given it, as well as the countless words that have enriched its breadth in each country, and which now gives us both a regional and a global identity––allows us to come together and share. For all this, and despite that the way in which we inherited the language was not the most desirable, we agreed unanimously:

To constitute an Ibero-American Association of Voice and Speech specialists, to avail ourselves of the enormous advantage our common language gives us to be in constant communication, and to meet periodically, just as in this occasion. Our goals are to strengthen mutual learning, to promote and develop research on the subject, to exchange information in order to enrich its academic dimension and the dissemination of vocal practices from the diverse knowledge we already have and, in so doing, to invigorate our Ibero-American identity and the preservation of the Spanish language in the artistic and voice-professional communities in our countries. We also aim to ensure that the cultural and natural resources, the languages and the rights of the indigenous peoples in our countries, as well as the many languages spoken in Spain, are preserved. Above all, we aim to contribute to a lasting peace in Ibero-America, through creativity, artistic training, culture, and education.

We sympathize and share the pain of the families of the student-teachers murdered in Ayotzinapa in October 2014. We join with voices in Mexico and the world to demand respect for their human rights and a clarification of the facts surrounding the massacre.

We adhere to the demand of the Puerto Rican people to free Óscar López Rivera, the social activist imprisoned in the United States for 34 years because of his independence ideals, and to grant him the right to enjoy the view of his homeland’s sea before dying, which could happen soon, given his advanced years.

We support the Right to Self-determination of the heroic Saharawi people, the only Spanish-speaking people in North Africa, scattered for the last 39 years between refugee camps and territories invaded by Morocco. We ask for respect of their human rights, and for the end of this colonial enclave.

We offer our united voices to the voiceless in Ibero-America in order to achieve Peace and Equity among all peoples.



Argentina                              Paula Requeijo

Bolivia                                   Wara Cajías

Brasil                                     Teresa Pesenti

Colombia                               Livia Esther Jiménez

Costa Rica                              José Pablo Umaña

Cuba                                      Ana Rojas Estévez

Ecuador                                  Elena Vargas

Chile                                       Sara Pantoja

El Salvador                              Roberto Salomón

España                                    Leticia Santafé

Guatemala                               Luis Carlos Pineda

Honduras                                Oscar Quiroz

México                                    Fidel Monroy

Nicaragua                                René Medina Chávez

Panamá                                    Mariela Aragón Chiari

Perú                                         Rebeca Ralli

Puerto Rico                             Carola García López

República Dominicana            Ruth Emeterio

United States                          Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Uruguay                                  Sandra Galeano

Venezuela                               Felicia Mari de Canetti



Aguascalientes                        Enrique Martínez

Baja California                        Tania Niebla

Baja California Sur                  Calafia Piña

Campeche                               Sonia Ramírez

Chiapas                                   Carmen Montoya

Chihuahua                               Wendy Berenice Domínguez

Coahuila                                  Daniela Quintana

Colima                                     María del Carmen Cortés

Distrito Federal                        Juan Carlos Cuellar

Durango                                  Marina Malo

Estado de México                    Erick Ramírez Farías

Guanajuato                              Karim Torres

Guerrero                                  Ilián Blanco

Hidalgo                                    Selene Beltrán

Jalisco                                      Blanca Aldana

Michoacán                               Nora Lucía Díaz

Morelos                                   Armando Ramírez

Nayarit                                    Alonso Apolinar

Nuevo León                             Antonio Trejo

Oaxaca                                    Liliana Alberto           

Puebla                                     Rosario Villarauz

Querétaro                                Alejandra Díaz

Quintana Roo                           Yanick Betancourt

San Luis Potosí                        Eloísa Zapata

Sinaloa                                     Yolani Parrilla

Sonora                                     Nabila Nubes

Tabasco                                   Aidée Sarracino

Tamaulipas Gerardo                Daniel Vázquez Ledezma

Tlaxcala                                   Ana Luisa Paredes Macías

Veracruz                                  Nayelli Nava              

Yucatán                                   Ulises Vargas             

Zacatecas                                Julia Robles



CasAzul                                  Ana Lourdes Zamarrón Castro

Casa del Teatro                       Ximena Salmerón Serna

Círculo Teatral                        Marco Antonio Flores Hidalgo

Contigo América                     Williams Sayago González

ENAT                                      Zamira Ayala Franco

UNAM/CUT                             Brenda Mar y Sol Sánchez

UNAM/Facultad                      Margarita González Ortiz



Luz Haydée Bermejo

Ignacio Flores de la Lama

José Antonio Falconi

José Galván

Tania González Jordán

Carlos Guízar

Luisa Huertas

Elisa Mass

Alejandra Marín

Indira Pensado

Alberto Rosas



Elizabeth Zárate

Ramón Saburit

Wendy Rodríguez



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VSR Update

Jeff Morrison

We need more great ideas to be submitted to the VSR.Jeff Morrison
Under our new publication model, the VSR has become a hungry beast, starving for great ideas to be shoveled into its howling maw.
So why submit?
Because it’s awesome!
Wait: Great ideas … Howling maw… Awesome? … Hmmm…. Something about this doesn’t seem right. It’s like when people say, “Let’s split up” in a horror movie - never a good idea.
I was reminded at the most recent VASTA board meeting that to many people in VASTA, writing an article and submitting to the VSR doesn’t feel awesome.  “Overwhelming” and “scary” were two popular adjectives to describe the experience – words that could describe staring into the howling maw of a hungry beast. This 
was important for me to hear. I’ve been involved with the VSR since 2007 as either an author or an editor, and these conversations helped me realize that my familiarity with the process has made me forget how intimidating it can be. The editors and I put a lot of effort into making the experience as positive as possible, 
but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary; also, some of you may not know how genuinely nice we are. When I look back on my experience as a first-time author, I was pretty scared of the beast myself, and I didn’t really know its handlers except by reputation, and they all seemed, well, let’s just say I didn’t know them. It was
So let me go on the record – when we say that we are here to support and nurture our writers, we really mean it. We do our best to make it clear from the get go that it’s the writing, not the idea, and certainly not the person that needs work. Even so, many people feel a strong personal attachment to what they write, and it’s not easy to let some stranger pass judgment on it and send it back for revisions, because it feels like they are passing judgment on you. But there are two things about the process that can take some of the sting out of not having your paper praised to the heavens and immediately accepted (which, if we are honest, is what most of us really want, no matter how much we know we are supposed to be grown up about 
1) Everybody’s paper goes back for revisions. EVERYBODY’S. If F.M. Alexander himself submitted a paper, it would go back. Or Dale Carnegie. Or Dame Maggie Smith. Everybody’s paper goes back. Why? Because the editorial process isn’t one where we say “This idea is horrible, come up with something else, stupid,” but one in which we say this is a TERRIFIC idea, but let’s try to make it a little better. Because it can always be better, clearer, wittier, more lucid – until it’s finally ready. It’s like coaching actors.
2) I’ve never seen a paper that has a bad idea at its core. Never. Not once. Some papers have that good idea buried more deeply than others, but it’s always there. The job of the editors is to tease out that good idea, to help you find out what you really think, what’s at the core of what you are trying to say, and then elicit the best, clearest, most brilliant articulation of that idea. It’s like coaching actors.
3) Okay, three things – if editing is like coaching actors, working on a piece of writing is like being coached. Or directed, maybe. It takes courage to turn yourself over to someone that way; believe me, I get it. But in the same way that, as an actor, you have some intuitive and brilliant understanding of a character that you need help to bring out, we VSR editors also believe that the brilliance is in there, and we are here to draw it out, in the same way that a good director or coach is there to draw a great performance out of you as an actor. In the same way that someone is cast because the director has a gut feeling that the great performance is in there, but then needs to work to find it, we also see the good idea, usually right away, and then we need to work to clarify it, in the same way that you have many rehearsals before the performance is ready. You wouldn’t expect to be cast and then open the next day with no preparation or rehearsal – and how many times do you get it on the first take? Rarely. Even if you do, the director will usually do one more for safety. Writing is the same. The first draft is never perfect, no matter how much work you put into it. VSR editors know that you’ve put your heart and soul into your writing, so we try to be respectful of the amount of work you’ve already done, but we also know that it can be better. So… it’s like coaching actors.
Now we can get back to the original question: Why submit? 
Because it is awesome. As I said in a previous Voice piece, “writing yourself down,” as I sometimes think of it, provides you with an opportunity to be deeply reflective on what you really think about your own work. It helps you clarify your own ideas, and then those ideas find their way back into your work and make it better, usually in ways you wouldn’t expect. You also connect to other people in a different way – the VSR editors, for one, people who help you better understand what you already intuitively know. Then there are readers, who may be grateful for your ideas in ways you can’t imagine. And on the practical level, you can drive visitors to your website with a fresh piece of writing. You can also get tenure with a good piece of writing. These practical benefits go hand in hand with the personal ones – it’s a twofer. So, really, what’s the downside? Why would you not submit? Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
The VSR has been and continues to be a broad platform for publishing a number of different kinds of writing. The world of voice and speech overlaps with a lot of other worlds, and there is fascinating stuff at every point of intersection. The VSR values scholarly, research-based articles on the same level as essays based on personal experience. The only important thing is that you back up your assertions with evidence – it’s not enough to say “I think this;” you need to say “I think this, and I have this (experience, interview, book, article, experiment) to back up my statement.”  We also publish reviews, and I still want to get some app and 
performance reviews into the journal now that we don’t have to wait two years to read each issue. I will write more on this in the next Voice, but those three categories (scholarly writing, which get published as Articles, essays, which get published in the Forum, and reviews, which are called… Reviews) give you a lot of 
different ways to say the important thing that I know you have to say. 
As always, contact me with questions at My first response is always, “What a great idea!” I may add something after that, but rest assured, I always see the good idea first.



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Freelance Column

An Interview with Mary McDonald-Lewis

Marina Tyndall

Marina Tyndall

Dear VASTAns, 

For this New Year issue, the Freelance column features our first audio interview. Voice and dialect coach [and voice actor], Mary McDonald-Lewis joins us to discuss her coaching role on forthcoming animated feature, Max and Me (2016).  



Max & Me, written by Bruce Morris, is the story of youngster who leans about sacrifice through the story of a brave Polish priest during the Nazi invasion of Poland.

The film is produced by Pablo José Barroso and Claudia Nemer of Mexico City-based Dos Corazones Films. Producers have earmarked a July 2016 release to coincide with World Youth Day.

The voice cast includes David Henrie, Ashley Greene, Neal McDonough and Hector Elizondo.


Listen to the Interview by Clicking Here


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Member News: South

Joshua MoserHappy New Year VASTAns,

I'm excited to see what this year has to offer. We want to know what you've been up to in the industry over the last year, so share your announcements with us!

This month our member news comes from those of us in the Southern regions. Next newsletter, members on our Central regions list will receive an email request from either Keely or myself. Just hit reply and send us your news.

Wishing you all a happy and successful New Year,

Josh Moser
Associate Editor, VASTA Voice


Robin Carr

ROBIN CARR (University of Southern Mississippi) is the Faculty Recipient from the University of Southern Mississippi for the Higher Education Appreciation Day Working for Academic Excellence Award (HEADWAE). This fall, Robin was the vocal coach for Triad Stage’s production of The Member of the Wedding along with The Liar, Top Girls and The Wind in the Willows at Southern Miss. Locally, Robin also led a series of workshops for fitness trainers and presented at the Alabama/Mississippi Fitness Expo. In addition, Robin received a Faculty Excellence award in directing for the Southern Miss production of Rent from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region II. This past summer, Robin taught a workshop with Master Lessac Teacher, Nancy Krebs and Lessac Practitioner, Eric Berryman at CenterStage in Baltimore, MD as well as presenting at Central School with Certified trainer’s Katerina Moraitis and Erica Tobolski during the 2014 VASTA conference. This fall, Robin taught a Lessac training and Suzuki movement workshop for CoreTheatre in Norfolk, VA. Robin is currently serving as President-Elect of the Lessac Training and Research Institute.

Zach Hanks

ZACH HANKS (Nacogdoches, TX) received a Meritorious Achievement award from KCACTF this summer for his direction of To Kill A Mockingbird for Stephen F. Austin State University's SummerStage Festival. He was also named one of the "Top Twenty Male Video Game Voice Actors of all Time" by the Internet Movie Database (




Melissa Hurt

MELISSA HURT (Springfield, VA) is teaching Voice and Speech at George Mason University and working with private clients of all ages. Her book, Arthur Lessac's Embodied Actor Training, is available for sale on and



Erica Tobolski

ERICA TOBOLSKI (University of South Carolina) performed the Bev/Kathy roles in Clybourne Park and played Juliana Smithton in The Other Place at Trustus Theatre in South Carolina. For the Clarence Brown Theatre, she coached voice and dialects for the silly romp Spamalot and balanced that frivolity with coaching Hamlet at the University of South Carolina (USC). This fall she coached Vanya and Sonya…, also at Trustus Theatre. At the VASTA Conference in London she chaired the panel “Virtual Coaching: The Next Best Thing to Being There” and co-led the workshop “Lettin’ Loose with Lessac.” She was named a Teaching Fellow by the Center for Teaching Excellence at USC where she taught a semester-long course for university faculty entitled “Achieving VocalPresence.”


Terry WeberTERRY WEBER (Knoxville, TN) is honored to have been promoted in 2014 to Full Professor of Theatre at the University of Tennessee. Last summer, he coached Hamlet at Great River Shakespeare Festival. This season at the Clarence Brown Theatre, he is playing Capt. Keller in The Miracle Worker and Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.



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VASTA Board of Directors & Officers

Board of Directors

Lynn Watson
2014 - 2016

Mandy Rees
Past President
2014 - 2016

Betty Moulton
President Elect
2014 - 2016





Judith Shahn

Krista Scott

Judylee Vivier

Hilary Blair

Adrianne Moore

Kim Bey

D'Arcy Smith


Melanie Julien 

Artemis Preeshl

Jeff Morrison
Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Tara McAllister Viel
Associate Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Keely Wolter
Editor, The VASTA Voice

Joshua Moser
Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice
2013 - 2015

Thrasso Petras
Director of Membership

Associate Director of Membership

Pamela Prather
Director of Annual Conferences

John Graham
ATHE Conference Planner 2014 -2016

Associate ATHE Conference Planner

Cynthia Bassham
Human Resources Director

Michael J. Barnes
Senior Technical Director

Adriano Cabral
Director of Technology/Internet Service

Joshua Miller
Associate Director of Internet Services

Yolanda Heman-Ackah

 Associate Officers

Amy Stoller
Internet Resources Manager

Flloyd Kennedy
Officer for International Resources

Zachary Campion
VASTA Archive Catalogist 

Brad Gibson

Judd Johnson
Social Media Coordinator

Rene Pulliam
ATHE Focus Group Representative






Committee Chairs

Barry Kur
Chair, Awards and Grants Committee

Michelle Lopez-Rios
Chair, Diversity Committee

Joanna Battles & Tamara Meneghini
Chair, Engagement Committee

Joanna Cazden
Chair, Teaching and Learning Committee

Amy Mihyang Ginther
Chair, International Committee




Contact Information Available at VASTA.ORG

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©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association