The VASTA Voice

Volume 10, Issue 3
July 2015


Table of Contents:

A Message from the President
Letter from the Editor
Conference Update
Committee Chair Updates
Engagement Committee Update
Tech Corner
International Column
Life After Uni
Twin Cities VASTA - Report from a Local Perspective
Freelance Coaching Column
It's time to bust the myth of the 'lazy tongue'
Member News

A Message from the President

Lynn Watson

Lynn WatsonDear Colleagues,

If a group of geese is a gaggle, and it's a pod of dolphins, pride of lions, school of fish, gulp of cormorants, convocation of eagles, etc., what is a group of voice professionals? A Vibrancy? Articulation? Cacophony?  Harmony? Consonance? Utterance? (Post your own creative nomenclature on the "VASTA Voices" Facebook page). Oh wait, I know, how about a CONFERENCE of voice professionals?! Of course for VASTA, that means "Cirque des Voix" August 2-5 in Montréal, which is fast approaching. The conference webpage now contains tons of information on logistics, including getting to and around Montréal. Be sure to check it out at

In April, I had the pleasure of leading a voice workshop for the Irene Ryan acting scholarship finalists at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC. What fun it was to work with such gifted, perceptive, and deeply curious young performers! I returned a few days later to watch the final evening of Irene Ryan performances and present the VASTA Vocal Excellence Award to Mariah Burks of Bowling Green State University. Ms. Burks' inventiveness, spontaneity, and sense of truth were revealed through her ease and range in vocal/physical expression. She also sang as part of her performance and showed herself to be a gifted singer. Ms. Burks was superbly supported by her talented scene partner, David Baker, also from Bowling Green State. She graciously acknowledged Baker's part in her success when, at the event's culmination, Mariah Burks was named winner of the Irene Ryan scholarship. Ms. Burks reflects on her KCACTF experiences in the following section.

Here's to the full range of expression, from cacophony to harmony!

-Lynn Watson


Mariah BurksI am honored and humbled to have received the VASTA award. Throughout the week my acting partner and I attended KCACTF, the experience we had was beyond words. I was able to absorb so many nuggets of gold, and new tools to put into my skill set. The knowledge I gained in a week was remarkably fulfilling! What it's like to work in D.C. in the art community, getting jobs, and Actors' Equity Association were some of the topics we discussed. During the VASTA workshop, we explored finding our voice through physical activities that shook us up and down. We looked into breathing patterns and how often we don't allow ourselves to just be, and live, and breathe within our daily activities. Through the VASTA workshop, I was able to discover my depth of breath and how my body knows exactly what it needs to breathe. It was truly a relaxing and eye-opening experience.

-Mariah Burks


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Letter from the Editor

Keely Wolter

Keely Wolter


Hello again VASTAns,

Some big changes are afoot with the VASTA Voice this month.  This is my last issue as Editor!  Crafting the newsletter five times a year and getting to know all of you better has been a delightful and enriching experience, and I am now passing the torch to my extremely competent, and creative Associate Editor, Josh Moser.  I can’t wait to see the things he’ll do with the Voice in the coming months.   I'll be taking over as editor and regular contributor of the Tech Column.  So, if you’ve got any brilliant tech topics you’d like to write or read about please get in touch with me at


Wishing you all an inspiring conference in Montreal!  


Keely Wolter

Editor, VASTA Voice


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Conference Update

Pamela Prather

Pamela PratherDear VASTA Members,

We are counting down the days to “Cirque des Voix/Circus of Voices” Conference in beautiful Montréal, August 2-5, 2015!

We are honored to host Master Presenter Judith Koltai, who will teach “The Pleasure of the Text.” Koltai is an internationally renowned movement specialist who has dedicated her professional life to pioneering a unique approach to body movement practices in psychotherapy, education, physical rehabilitation and the performing arts. Ms. Koltai is the initiator and founder of the integrative discipline Embodied Practice® and the Professional Guild and Masterclass of Embodied Practice® .

Keynote Speaker, François Grisé, will open our ceremonies with "To speak ma langue.  Grisé is a trained actor, who works as a bilingual voice, speech, dialect and communication specialist. He is affiliated with the Theatre and Musical Theatre Program at Collège Lionel-Groulx and is the founder and artistic director of Un et un font mille, a company that produces events where theatre, performance and visual arts amalgamate to create living tableaux in public spaces.

Register now! Don’t miss amazing performances by Mump & Smoot: Clowns of Horror and Inuit Throat Singers, Heidi Langille and Lynda Brown (plus, learn how to throat sing yourself)! You may also want to do a bit of performing at our Identity Cabaret—Contact Judith Shahn at for more information.

And of course, youre sure to be inspired with a truly incredible array of member workshops, papers and panels...

To register for the conference, be sure to log-in to first, then go to the Conferences Tab and choose VASTA Conference Montréal 2015.

Go on, join the won’t regret it.

Pamela Prather, Conference Director

Kristi Dana, Associate Conference Director

Cynthia DeCure, Scheduling Coordinator


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Committee Chair Updates

Engagement Committee Update

Tamara Meneghini

Tamara Meneghini

Earlier this spring the VASTA Engagement Committee invited interested Junior through High School Teachers to submit applications for consideration of the VASTA Teacher Award.  This award grants a one-year VASTA membership and a financial award to assist the recipient in attending the annual VASTA conference, this year in Montreal!  The call was issued, applications were gathered and the Engagement committee along with the VASTA Board of Directors, agreed to award Ashley Rose Mercia and Marion Brenner with this year’s award.  Both Ashley and Marion are based in Alberta, Canada and thrilled to be joining us this August in Montreal.  On behalf of the Engagement Committee, we wanted to take this opportunity to officially introduce them to the VASTA Community and we all look forward to congratulating and welcoming them in person later this summer!   


Tamara Meneghini, Co-chair VASTA Engagement Committee


Ashley Rose MerciaAshley Rose Mercia obtained her Bachelor of Education degree (Secondary Route) from the University of Alberta in 2010. Following that, she traveled to Japan and taught English in Elementary and Junior High school. Ashley returned to Canada in September of 2013 after teaching English in Japan for two years. Following all kinds of things like climbing Mt. Fuji, discovering herself, and backpacking through Asia, she came back and was bitten hard by the theatre bug. Thus far, she has been in several productions with Central Alberta Theatre including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the One Act Festival; she is also a troupe member of Terry Shane Murder Mysteries. Ashley is currently substitute teaching in Central Alberta, and will be entering her second year of study in Red Deer College’s Theatre Performance and Creation program in September. She is also a member of Red Deer’s Bull Skit Comedy where she performs and creates improvisation-theatre, and writes sketch comedy. 

Marion Brenner

Marion Brenner is a theatre educator, playwright, singer, and director of community theatre productions in Alberta, Canada. Some of her directing credits include Crazy For You, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hairspray, Copacabana, High Society, Chicago, and Legally Blonde. She loves to wrap harmony vocals around the voices of others, whether they be gospel choir voices, musical theatre performers or tiny music enthusiasts.




Diversity Committee Update

Michelle Lopez-Rios


The Diversity Committee teamed up with the International Committee to offer two 2015 VASTA Montreal Conference Diversity/International Scholarships this year. We received several excellent applications. Thank Michelle Lopez-Riosyou to VASTA, an organization that values the benefit of hearing the voices and ideas of a diverse group of practitioners. 

Congratulations to Sayda Trujillo and Joel Trill!

The second year of the Identity Cabaret will happen at the VASTA conference in Montreal. If you have a poem, song, adaptation or solo piece that expresses something about your identity (however you define it), please consider sharing it with us at The Identity Cabaret. To sign up for a spot - contact Judith Shahn at We will have some slots for those who want to perform spontaneously.

We will meet as a group in Montreal. Micha Espinosa will make an announcement at the conference on when and where. 

I am not able to make it this year. I wish you all an amazing conference!


Michelle Lopez-Rios

Chair of the Diversity Committee


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Tech Corner

Joshua Moser

Joshua Moser

My last tech corner article was inspired by the large amount of moving and traveling in my schedule this summer. There are a number of apps that not only help streamline trip planning, but also help keep you working on the go. So here is a short list of apps that have proven themselves useful.

For booking flights, hotels, and cars, try the Expedia app, which functions much like the website does in allowing you to search for flights, stays and transport by price scale or any other number of search parameters depending on your travel needs. If you aren't an expedia person, Kayak, Priceline, and Hotwire all have apps that allow you to compare airlines, hotels, and car rentals based on area, price, and availability.

If you are someone who would rather deal directly with the airline, some larger airlines like Delta and Jet Blue have apps that allow you to search for flights, check-in to flights, and download a mobile boarding pass.

It is also important to be able to keep up with work while traveling and waiting in airports or other similar places. For quick recording projects, or to record a primary source dialect interview, an app like Voice Record Pro allows you to record and do very basic edits. It also allows you to upload files to outside websites like Dropbox or Sound Cloud

When you're stuck in your hotel, use the Avery Design app to create new business cards for your coaching services, or practice a song with the musicnotes player app. The musicnotes app allows you to store sheet music you have purchased from, and the player app, while maybe not an ideal way to practice, comes in handy if you have no access to a piano or keyboard.

If a client contacts you while you're away, and is willing to do a video session and unwilling to see another coach in person, then Skype and Google Hangouts both have apps if you are unable to use your built-in video chat function.

As a note, some version of all of the above mentioned apps are available for at least Apple and Android products. So consider adding one of the handy apps to your arsenal of tools to help you keep up with your work on the go. 


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International Column

Amy Mihyang Ginther


Amy Mihyang GintherLike so many of you in the VASTA community, we are gearing up and excited about the conference in Montreal! The International Committee is committed to increasing global dialogue about voice and promoting greater access to resources, conferences, and training to voice professionals and voice students all over the world.

If this is something important to you, we would love it if you considered joining the committee! We would like to continue to expand and create a global network of many languages and cultures. I will be in Montreal, so please find me and we can discuss your interest! If you are not attending the conference but would still like to join the committee, you can email me at

And as Committee Chair, I encourage all conference participants to make the effort to engage with others who come from different backgrounds from theirs and to be open about our views and beliefs about voice based on our own culture and privilege. This is a wonderful opportunity to be critically conscious about how we teach and research within our own cultural context and how that relates to the greater global voice community. J'espère vous voir bientôt à Montréal!

Amy Mihyang Ginther

International Committee Chair



Life after Uni

– ‘And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight’*

Dr. Flloyd Kennedy

Dr. Flloyd Kennedy

The year 2014 shot out of the starting gate at high speed as I prepared to submit the final version of my doctoral thesis with the University of Queensland. The thought that my life as a student was coming to an end paved the way for pondering what antics I might get up to next. Should this old stock-horse settle down, act her age, give up the fight? Should I resign myself to a slower, quieter pace of life that involved less income, and therefore less overseas travel? Somehow these options impled that I had stopped growing.

By the time the acceptance of my thesis came through in May, I had decided to blow caution to the wind, and enroll in the three week Knight-Thompson Teacher Certification program in New York and in the one week Collective Creation with Solo Performers workshop in Au Brana, France, with Duende-Ensemble director John Britton. Clearly my addiction to learning and acquiring new skills cannot be stifled, for a while at any rate.

The chief aspect that had attracted me to Knight-Thompson Speechworks was the expression of the Principles, articulated by Dudley Knight in the Preface of his book Speaking with Skill. In particular, I wanted to explore a pedagogy that places up front the need to address one’s cultural and social biases, something I have been attempting to contend with for some years now.  For example, there is no such thing as an ugly accent; my way of being in the world is not necessarily the only way, and passing on skills should be effected with respect for the student’s cultural heritage. For starters.

So as one of only two foreign students in a class of US citizens from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, I had a certain expectation that cultural diversity would be respected and accommodated. Having travelled a great deal and lived in different countries, I have often encountered the need to adapt my behaviour, and learnt to deal with – although not necessarily to conform to – the different ways different peoples think and act. I remember my first party in London, where I discovered that the English actually do talk about the weather a lot, something I assumed Australian comics had invented just to make fun of the English. Likewise, when I first visited New York I realised that the locals express themselves loudly and passionately, just like they do in the movies! Believe it or not, we don’t do that in Australia. (However, we do talk about the weather all the time nowadays, because there is so much more of it).

Dudley’s Principles lie at the heart of the Knight-Thompson pedagogy, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to apply.  They have to be practised, rehearsed, worked at, constantly re-visited and re-examined. I often found myself caught out in class by a cultural reference that meant nothing to me, which may have had little significance beyond amusement to the other students, but which plagued my mind because it MIGHT have been significant, and I didn’t like to interrupt to air my ignorance (which possibly says more about my Australian cultural attitude than it does about the teaching style).

As a recipient of a scholarship generously awarded towards my fees, I had begun the first week by placing myself under huge pressure to ‘do well’ and ‘not let them down’. By the end of that week common sense prevailed and I decided to focus my efforts on learning as much as I could, so that I could take away the most enriching experience (the ‘stuff’) I could have.  I swotted up on anatomy and freaked out over my lack of experience with diacritics up to the point when I realised my elderly brain was still actually capable of creating a few new neural pathways. Then there was the moment when I remembered that I actually love phonetics, and have done since I began learning broad script at the age of 12.

By the beginning of the third week I was so hungry for the ‘stuff’ that I began to lose my inhibitions, and to challenge the teachers when they referred to local icons or used culturally significant terms that had no resonance for us foreigners. I did suspect, for example, that the Japanese sounding name one of the teachers referred to at one point, which brought gales of knowing laughter from the US-based participants, might have something to do with the Karate Kid movies, but my fellow alien was totally bemused by it. To their credit, the teachers  acknowledged the need to accommodate our foreignness more sensitively.  Clearly, the range of age, teaching experience and cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds of the participants required a mammoth effort on the part of the teachers, and I salute their care and their fortitude!

The workshop in France offered a different set of challenges, although, like the Knight-Thompson work, requires the participant to bring all her prior knowledge and experience into the room and to share it with everyone. The cultural mix was much broader, with participants from four continents. It was up to each of us to create from scratch, or continue to develop our own ideas for a solo performance from our own unique cultural or ethnic perspective, and to support each other as we threw them, raw and half-baked in front of each other. I do believe we learnt as much from the great diversity of perspectives in the room as we did from the practice on the floor.

Since returning to Australia, I have had the opportunity to put the Knight-Thompson training to good use, working with acting students at various levels of their training and with private clients for whom English is a second (or third or fourth) language. I am so grateful for the depth of this training, and especially for the bedrock of Dudley’s Principles which it is now my challenge to put into practice. Knight-Thompson training is rigorously challenging in its attention to the practical aspects of clear speech as well at attending with care and courtesy to the diversity within the student groups.  Just today I was able to point out to a concerned student that what he called as his ‘weird’ pronunciations of certain sounds were markers, hinting at his cultural background, no more wrong or right than the variety of sounds of his fellow students’ speech. However, now that he knows precisely how he is using his oral tract to make those sounds, and why, he is also at liberty to choose to make different sounds, should the occasion arise.

I have continued to develop the solo performance that began to take shape in France, taking far greater risks as a performer these days, and experiencing much more pleasure in the process of experimenting with my physical and vocal skills, thanks to both of the courses I undertook last year. ‘Yes, Because…’ will premiere in September at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, after a short preview run here in Brisbane.  I am happy to report that far from settling down, there is ‘movement at the station’, I’m snuffing the next battle with delight - and once again experiencing growing pains.

* from A.B. Paterson’s ballad, ‘The Man From Snowy River’ (1890). This is a specifically Aussie cultural reference, a term in common use these days, although I doubt that anyone under 50 would know where it comes from!

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from Old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild west horses - he was worth a thousand pounds,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.


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Twin Cities VASTA – Report from a Local Perspective

contributed by Cheryl Moore Brinkley, B. Vocal LLC, Minneapolis, MN

We’re not official, but we call ourselves Twin Cities VASTA, and we’ve held regular monthly meetings and Cheryl Moore Brinkleycreated events for the past year and a half.  Keely Wolter, VASTA Voice editor (and TC VASTA participant), has urged me to tell our story and put together a sampling of what we’ve done together along with some member comments and observations about the benefits of meeting locally, in hopes all VASTAns will get some ideas about how joining together regularly in small groups can benefit everyone.

It was a perfect storm of factors: location, members, and meaningful conversations during the Minneapolis VASTA conference at the Guthrie in 2013 that motivated the start of our local VASTA “salon.”  I was privileged to be invited to co-create with Hilary Blair a panel on practical tips for coaching the corporate client.  Since my studio is just 2.5 blocks from the Guthrie, after the panel interested members walked over for a casual visit. Without and agenda, we began to really engage and quickly discovered we wanted more connection – more collegial sharing and mentoring in dialogue.  When the conference was over, I didn’t want to let that go, lose the sense of community with no way beyond email to follow through on relationships and some very exciting and potentially valuable ideas. So I reached out to local members to see if others felt the same way, offered my studio as a meeting place, and on Friday, October 11, 2013, the inaugural meeting of Twin Cities VASTA took place. Present were D’Arcy Smith, Elizabeth Nash, Foster Johns, Melissa Hart, Joseph Papke, Keely Wolter, Sara Schwabe, and me, Cheryl Moore Brinkley.  Keely snapped a photo, Foster created a group Facebook page, and we were launched.

Meeting locally doesn’t have to be about an event or even a set agenda.  Often, sharing resources (Mira Kehoe always offers hot articles, links and apps), asking for advice, brainstorming ideas, or just sharing collegial conversations (and sometimes beverages) with others who “get” us, is priceless. Having real connections with other members, though, does sometimes make it easy to create actual events.  Here’s a sample of our highlights:

11-15-13 – D’Arcy Smith arranged MEG grant for a 1-day, mini-conference, featuring a Kristen Linklater intensive workshop (Yes, with Kristen in person!), plus member presentations. We had 16 participants, including several out-of-state members! Liz Nash took notes on the Linklater workshop, which she transcribed and graciously shared.

3-09-15 – Melissa Hart gave a mini-workshop at our monthly meeting, sharing How to Speak Punctuation, as she had learned it from the great Zoe Caldwell.  What a legacy gift!

4-7-15 – Keely Wolter and I created and led a Vocal Workout for local performers.

4-26-2015 – Foster Johns and Keely Wolter secured a MEG grant for Lisa Nathans to offer a 1/2-day workshop, Introduction to Louis Colaianni’s Phonetic Pillows.  After which, we shared a meal and continued exploring and processing the work with rich conversations.

In the works for early 2016 – I’m collaborating with a neuromuscular therapist and educator on a workshop for physical self-care for voice practitioners, including jaw & neck alignment and myofascial massage.

We’ve also created connections with SLP’s at the Park Nicollet Voice Clinic, the Lions Voice Clinic at the U of MN, and the Minnesota Voice & Speech Clinic, many of whom are happy to open appropriate trainings to us (we’re invited to Lions Voice Day on Sept. 19th!) and to refer clients who have finished clinical treatment but who may benefit from other forms of continuing, supportive practices such as VASTAns can offer.  Win-win.

Members Share:

"When we started meeting, it was very early in my coaching career.  Having regular meetings with local colleagues has been inspiring and has definitely carried me to where I am today.  The guidance and wisdom I've received from this collective has been invaluable.  I know that when I encounter a new challenge in coaching, there's at least one person in our group who has had experience with the same issue and will generously offer suggestions.  And when I overcome that challenge, I have a group that celebrates with me.  It feels the way mentorship ought to be." –Foster Johns

TC VASTA has been invaluable to me in offering a sense of community in an independent and sometimes lonely profession.  I have gained skills (mini-conferences, workshops, and mini-workshops), resources (something new in every monthly meeting), and, perhaps most importantly, camaraderie.” –Keely Wolter

"As a new member of the TC VASTA community, I found our monthly meetings created a forum for sharing new ideas, addressing challenges that came up in practice, continued professional development, and also provided a space to feel supported in this sometimes isolating field. TC VASTA helped me find an artistic and professional home in the Midwest. I would strongly encourage other cities to follow the TC VASTA example and start smaller VASTA communities near you!" – Lisa Nathans

Perhaps now you’re considering starting a local group but concerned about competition among members. We addressed that head-on and our POV is Abundance begets abundance.  If we all worked 24-7-365, we couldn’t possibly serve everyone who needs our expertise. Creating joint ventures and giving away information builds visibility and credibility for our profession, and helps all of us increase the market for what we do.  More is more.  The tide has turned, soft skills are now deemed essential for success in many areas beyond the theatre and we’re ready to respond to the growing need.  Dialoguing together also helps each of us hone and define our niches, our unique offerings.  Knowing each other’s’ individual specialties allows us to refer and share the wealth.  Can’t accept a gig, don’t feel comfortable with a particular dialect, or can’t serve a potential client’s specific need? Refer another member! I’ve already referred several private clients and a last-minute theatre coaching offer I couldn’t accept to other TC VASTAns.  Clients are served, we build a positive reputation and everybody benefits. 

Our biggest challenge so far?  Scheduling!  Most members juggle various combinations of working in academia, coaching theatre, private coaching practices, corporate training, or performing gigs. We found a narrow window on Mondays between end of business or academic workdays and evening rehearsals, and we try to meet monthly. If you don’t have as many members in your area as we do, even a quarterly meeting within your region would offer similar benefits to those we’ve found. We don’t have to wait for the annual conference to connect and serve.

It’s so hip to go local with many choices these days.  TC VASTA is definitely local, and what else? A salon; a club; a Meetup; an odd, one-of-a-kind group; or might we become… drumroll… a sanctioned VASTA chapter?  Will you help create other chapters?  Let’s discuss it when we meet in Montreal!


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Freelance Coaching Column

It's time to bust the myth of the 'lazy tongue’.

Lucinda Worlock

Lucinda Worlock is a London-based, Voice, Accent and Presentation Coach.


Lucinda Worklock

I was first exposed to what felt like an epidemic of 'lazy tongues' when coaching undergraduate acting students at London drama schools.

It was not a vocal phenomenon I had studied during my MA Voice Studies at Central, yet it quickly became a phrase I heard daily.

I was sent a steady stream of first-year students who, according to the cross-faculty whispers of institution colleagues, required extra 1:1 work due to their 'lazy tongues.'

Tutorials would often start with the student’s sotto voce confession, 'I have a lazy tongue.’man in tongue costume looking lazy



I felt pretty perplexed by the whole lackadaisical lingua situation. I started by asking a few questions:

- 'Says who?'

- 'Define ''lazy''

- 'What are you doing to train it?'

It soon became clear that as tightly as they seemingly clung to this diagnosis as fact, they didn't necessarily understand its meaning. Nor did they have a cogent suggestion for how they might best resolve it.

If I flash forward to my work today, predominantly with professional actors and business clients, I remain just as bewildered at the continued self-diagnoses:

- 'I’ve always had a lazy tongue'

- 'I guess I'm just lazy'

- 'Ah that'll be my lazy tongue'

- ‘My accent just sounds really lazy’

- (Describing a specific speech sound as) ‘lazy’

My studio today is like my classroom then: an L-word-free zone. I explain to clients that letting go of this label is a vital part of their own learning process and clarify that a body part cannot be 'lazy.'

Laziness, as defined by the Oxford dictionary is ‘the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.’ To describe a tongue as lazy implies a willful lack of intention.

Students who begin voice work with a firm and user-friendly foundation in anatomy soon discover that the tongue is made up of a complex system of muscles, amazingly versatile and able to move in many different directions. Any combination of those muscles may be overactive or under-active, but muscles cannot be inherently 'lazy.'

A key role of the voice coach is to help the student or client build self-awareness. This usually means equipping them with fresh techniques to release potentially restrictive habits and begin to build new ones. To guide the student through this process, we rely heavily on the power of our words: specifically our verbal cues and our preliminary and ongoing feedback.

Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankl believed that 'Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.' If our feedback to a student is the stimulus, then the space between feedback and response is a vital part of the learning cycle: conscious awareness.

When we as teachers, are equally conscious about the language of our feedback to students, we can help create space for mindfulness so that our student's response is one of freedom and empowerment.

A tired looking dog with it's tongue out

If I am told my tongue is 'lazy,' I want to curl up on the sofa along with said lazy tongue, turn on a box set and give up.

But if I am told I have tremendous arching abilities in my tongue muscles, and that I need to work more on cupping to help train my tongue tip for a specific set of speech sounds, then I have direction and motivation.

If I am shown how to do this and encouraged to keep working on this daily- if I begin to see, feel and hear the progress for myself- then I build trust and confidence in my tongue and in my own developing speech skills.

The late, great Dudley Knight once explained to me that 'Students often prefer a quick list of things that they have to “fix,” rather than undergo the more challenging task of uprooting all their familiar articulator actions.'

Could any number of these students, those bound up in a neat hierarchy of right/wrong also be the same ones who leap upon the (lazy) diagnosis of a 'lazy tongue,' because it is easier to accept than to critically examine? And are those teachers giving such value judgements failing their students by continuing to perpetuate such myths?

Our VASTA colleague Amy Ginther recently wrote in this same newsletter:

'Remember that just because we are in theatre or education, we are not automatically progressive or an ally in social justice.'

But as highly-trained specialists in our field, we do hold a certain power, and with that power comes responsibility. Our words can echo - or at least fail to challenge - well-worn teacher/student scripts for diagnosing and prescribing patterns of voice and speech use; or our words can - and do - effect change.

Let that change be positive, let it be constructive, and above all, let it be specific. Let us be mindful, not just of our message, but how it lands with our listener.

And let us please stop ascribing human behavioural traits to body parts: a soft palate is not ‘sluggish,’ inadequate breath support or incomplete vocal fold adduction are not, by themselves, ‘uncommitted’ and a tongue is never ‘lazy.’


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Member News


Josh Moser

Greeting VASTAns - and a Happy Fourth to you all.
As evidenced by the member news this issue, the past few months have been quite busy! I hope you are all in good health as we quickly approach our annual conference. Travel safely this summer, and see you in the fall!

Josh Moser
Associate Editor, VASTA Voice


Robin Carr

ROBIN CARR (University of Southern Mississippi) most recently received a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Faculty Excellence Award in Directing for her work on Spring Awakening as well as bring awarded Teacher of the Year for the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi. Robin taught Lessac Kinesensic Voice and Body Workshops at Central School of Speech and Drama with Certified Trainer, Katerina Moralities as well as a one week workshop at The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland. Robin was the 2014-2015 Southern Miss recipient for the Higher Education Appreciation Day Working Toward Academic Excellence State-Wide Award.


Foster Johns

FOSTER JOHNS (St. Paul, MN) recently led voice workshops for the City of St. Paul, including vocal presence and health for the St. Paul EMS Academy as well as experiencing vocal power for the department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity. He's had the pleasure of dialect coaching for the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior, MN on their recent productions of Outside Mullingar and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He also co-organized, along with theTwin Cities VASTA community, a Colaianni Phonetic Pillows workshop called The Joy of Articulation and Accents (taught by VASTA member Lisa Nathans).  This fall, Foster will begin pursuing his MFA in Voice Studies at the Royal Central School is of Speech and Drama in London.


Barry Kur

BARRY KUR, Professor Emeritus, Penn State School of Theatre.  Took advantage of the time retirement allows by presenting master classes at Penn State Graduate Musical Theatre Voice Pedagogy Program, University Park, PA; Columbus State University, Columbus, GA; University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK.  Will be leading the annual Lessac Teacher Training Workshop this summer, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN.  Also living the good life with wife, Judi:  cruising the Caribbean, wintering in Florida, planning a trip to Paris.  Ahhhh.

Artemis Preeshl

ARTEMIS PREESHL is teaching English, voice and speech, and Shakespeare at Stawa University in Kampala, Uganda this month. The workshop will culminate in a staged reading and scenes from Much Ado About Nothing.  On June 5th, she directed and coached verse for Loyola University New Orleans students and English faculty members John Sebastian and Hillary Eklund performed Ben Jonson's Masque of Queens for the opening of the 50th anniversary of the Poculi Ludique (Cup and Games) conference at the University of Toronto. In March 2015, she directed and coached Mississippi accents for Crimes of the Heart at Loyola University New Orleans. In January 2015, she directed a new adaptation of Wealth by Dr. Karen Rosenbedker for the Classical and Modern Performance wing of the Society for Classical Studies 146th annual meeting in New Orleans.


Crystal Robbins

CRYSTAL ROBBINS (Los Angeles, CA), Lessac Certified Trainer, directed As You Like It with the Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute at Burbank's Starlight Bowl this June.  Twenty-five kids received immersion theatre training in acting, Lessac voice and movement and improvisation, and mounted a production in three weeks.  Crystal is now senior voice teacher in the theatre department at Santa Monica College.  She is excited to currently be teaching with the master teachers at the Lessac 4-week Summer Intensive at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.  She continues to teach voice and movement for the screen actor at UCLA Extension and to privately coach actors in the LA area.


Elissa Weinzimmer

ELISSA WEINZIMMER (New York, NY) is now based in New York City after having completed her MFA in Theatre Voice Pedagogy at the University of Alberta. She runs her own private coaching practice called Voice Body Connection (, continues to collaborate with David Ley on Vibrant Voice Technique (, and also teaches at the New York Film Academy and Anthony Meindl's Actors Workshop. Elissa created and toured a cabaret show for her 30th birthday in May, and was recently interviewed on the Nethervoice Voiceover blog about that project and her other pursuits:

CATHERINE WEATE, BA DipEd, LSDA, FLAM FRSA (London, England) released her second accent app earlier this year.  The Real Accent App: England has now joined The Real Accent App: USA in the iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon (for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire and Blackberry devices).  These are the first in a series of Voice Coach in your Pocket® apps that link native speaker recordings with a 10 step accent learning programme.  Catherine and her app business partner, Gavin Howard, travel the world to record real people in their home environments and are currently working their way around Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland for The Real Accent App: Celtic Nations. Features of The Real Accent series include: Real people recorded in their original environments; Step-by-step learning programmes for each accent; Simple-to-use interface for fast problem-solving on the rehearsal room floor; Innovative RECORD and COMPARE functions to speed up learning; Unique AUTOPLAY and LOOP functions for working hands free; An ingenious TEST YOUR EAR quiz that strengthens listening skills; Tips for adapting accents to characters and scripts. For further information visit:


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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
2015 - 

Jeff Morrison
Editor, The Voice & Speech Review
2015 -

Tara McAllister Viel
Associate Editor, The Voice & Speech Review
2015 -

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
Editor, VASTA Links Page

Flloyd Kennedy
Editor, Workshop & Events Page

Janet B. Rodgers
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

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