The VASTA Voice

Volume 14, Issue 3


Table of Contents:

A Message from the President

Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes

Greetings VASTA members:

I am happy to be writing you this beautiful September. I am enjoying a new semester where I am back to teaching voice, speech, and accents full-time.  For the first time in about a decade, I have no administrative responsibilities for my university. This return to teaching reminds me exactly of why I became a voice trainer in the first place. I get to experience the fulfillment and joy of seeing my students grasp a concept for the first time, find that little release that opens their voice, or make the connection to their accent to fully bring a character to life.

This year’s conference provided me with a boost as I returned to my classroom. My spirits were lifted by my dear friends’ workshops and presentations. Our former President, Patty Raun’s inspiring keynote address, Rena Cook and Eliza Jane Schneider’s presentation on utilizing theatre techniques in a corporate setting, Scott Kaiser’s workshops on training in Shakespeare’s rhetoric all gave us thoughts and tools to bring along with us as we help others find their voices. We saw some moving performances by Margaret Kemp and the performers at the Identity Cabaret and shared experiences with our fellow VASTAns through their workshops, presentations, and communion over a glass of wine or dinner. Kendra Kingsbury and her conference planning team did an exceptional job organizing a conference where those of us who have been members of VASTA for some time could come together with new members.

We have some great new board members who have joined us. I look forward to working with Adriano Cabral, Marie Downing, and Jeremy Sortore. They all bring their own unique skills to help keep VASTA on a path of growth.

The conference ended with a sneak preview of next year’s conference. I am incredibly excited to gather in Sydney, Australia next year. We will be hosted by the National Institute of Dramatic Art under the guidance of our conference planners--Amy Hume, Jennifer Innes, and Katerina Moraitis. They are busily at work planning key presenters and events; I am really looking forward to the conference (who am I kidding, I want to go to Australia and play with a quokka). Be on the lookout for announcements coming from them for a call for proposals; you can show off your latest explorations and research.

Finally, get ready to apply for our Early Leadership Initiative. This program brings two members who are early in their career to be a part of board meetings and find their own way to be a part of VASTA. This year’s young leaders, Joe Hetterly and Ann Marie Pollard, have a report about their experience later in the newsletter.

Please feel free to reach out to me if there is anything I can do for you. You can reach me at

Be well,

Michael J Barnes


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Letter from the Editor

Hollace Starr

Photo of Hollace Starr, Editor of VASTA Voice

For those of you who are new to this publication, welcome to the September issue of VASTA’s quarterly newsletter, The VASTA Voice.

In this issue, we reflect on this year’s VASTA and ATHE conferences.  You will find updates from the conference planners and from the many committee members who are coming off our professional gatherings in Orlando with new ideas, energy, and momentum.  It sounds like a really good time was had by all. I’m sorry that I had to miss out, but I am grateful I can get caught up on some of it in these pages.

Also in this issue are updates from our regular special contributors Meredith Colby and Dr. Yolanda D. Heman-Ackah.  Meredith gives some very helpful and straightforward tips for those of us who might feel a little queasy when thinking about things like online marketing and search-engine metrics.  And Dr. Heman Ackah teaches us how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, which is an important reminder this time of year as many of us return to college campuses. So many students across America, not to mention so many Americans in general, are struggling with mental health.  We never know when we might see the warning signs of suicide in someone. Dr. Heman-Ackah’s article serves as an important reminder of what those signs are and what to do if we’re the ones to notice them.

On a lighter note, I would like to point out three wonderful essays from the Interdisciplinary Engagement Committee via four of their recent grant winners.    And be sure to check out announcements about grant opportunities and membership benefits throughout the issue.

So, cosy up with your favorite warm beverage, sigh with relief, and enjoy all that this fall issue has to offer.  I wish you a happy and fulfilling season.

Be well,


Editor, The VASTA Voice


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Yolanda D. Heman-Ackah, MD, MS, FACS

Photo of Dr. Heman Ackah

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide


Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in individuals age 18 – 24, and the incidence of death by suicide has increased 30% since 1999.1  It is the 10th leading cause of death in all age groups in the United States, where it accounts for approximately 45, 000 deaths per year. Suicide is preventable, and recognizing the signs of suicide and then encouraging the individual to seek help can help to prevent suicide in those prone to carryout a suicidal act.

Although a history of mental illness (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia, personality disorder, and schizophrenia) are risk factors for suicide, 54% of those who commit suicide have no history of mental illness at all.  There is no “typical” person who commits suicide, but the following are signs that suicidal thoughts and plans may be occurring:

  1. Social withdrawal – The individual begins to withdraw from social activities and situations, becoming more and more isolated from friends, family, and his/her support system.  This includes a lack of interest in activities that the person previously enjoyed.
  2. Sudden change in personality and appearance – The individual may suddenly stop caring about how he/she looks or he/she may start behaving differently, sleeping too much or not sleeping much at all.
  3. Talking about wanting to die or about wanting to kill oneself, researching suicide online, and/or buying firearms or poisons/medications that can cause death - Any expression of death, whether it be said seriously or jokingly, should be taken seriously. 
  4. Feelings of hopelessness about the future, particularly following a sudden life event change such as a divorce, relationship break-up, loss of a job, homelessness/loss of a home, serious financial problems, loss of a pet, or a new diagnosis of a serious major illness can trigger suicidal thoughts.
  5. Making plans and preparations – Individuals who plan suicide often begin to put their personal affairs in order – they may write a will, clean their home or room, give away valued possessions, reconnect with old friends or acquaintances, and/or write a suicide note.
  6. Engaging in self-destructive behavior – Suddenly increasing or starting alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, engaging in unsafe sex and other reckless behaviors are signs that the person no longer values their life.
  7. Recent suicides of others, particularly celebrities that the individual revered or that of close friends or relatives can trigger copycat suicidal behavior in those already considering it.
  8. Moodiness – long lasting sadness, excessive mood swings including rage, anger, and depressive feelings are signs of mental instability that could lead to impulsive behavior, including suicide attempts.  A sudden calmness after a period of moodiness or depression can be an indication that the individual is considering suicide.
  9. Expressions of feeling as though the individual is a burden to their friends or family or that they would be better off if he/she were dead.


The best thing that you can do if you encounter someone with any of these warning signs is to talk to them about getting help.  People who receive support and feel as though someone cares are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than those who are socially isolated.  Don’t be afraid to ask them directly if they are depressed or considering suicide. If you suspect that they may be considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255 – 800-273-TALK).  Trained professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for confidential, free support for those in distress as well as for advice for professionals, friends, and family on how to help someone you suspect is at risk.  If you think someone is in immediate danger of harming himself/herself, do not leave him/her alone – stay with him/her and call 911 immediately. Suicide is preventable, we all can and should help when we suspect that someone is considering it, whether we are close to the individual or not.



Stone DM, Simon TR, Fowler KA, et al. Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates — United States, 1999–2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide — 27 States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:617–624. DOI:


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Committee Chair Updates and Columns

Awards and Grants Committee

Committee Chair: Kimberly Monhe Hill

Photo of Kimberly Monhe Hill


Upcoming Grants Available for VASTA Members


Dorothy Mennen Research/Development Grant

As part of the ongoing mission of the organization, VASTA is very pleased to be able to support The Dorothy Mennen Research/Development Grant Award which provides up to $1000 to fund two VASTA members for research or professional development. 

This award is named for Dorothy Runk Mennen (pictured left) who served as the founding president of VASTA and is affectionately known in the organization as "the mother of us all." She Photo of Dorothy Mennanorganized the voice and speech program for the American Theatre Association in 1968, and in 1986 she helped to found VASTA. Dorothy created the voice curriculum at Purdue University where she taught until 1985, and as Professor Emerita she was involved in the classroom climate interactive theatre workshop program. Dorothy continued as a vital member of the VASTA board a good twenty years into her retirement. Dorothy's spirit of encouragement, vision of inclusivity, professionalism, determination and generosity are at the heart of VASTA's mission. Dorothy Runk Mennen passed away in early 2011, but her legacy lives on.

VASTA Members are invited to apply for one of two awards of up to $1000. Examples of the kinds of projects or professional development opportunities include (but are not limited to):

  • attending a workshop with a master teacher to further your development as a trainer and/or artist
  • a small research project related to voice and/or speech
  • subvention of publication of an existing manuscript
  • a travel subsidy to support training or research which covers transportation and/or subsistence
  • purchase of equipment to support teaching

NOTE: We will not be accepting applications to fund electronic equipment and computers at this time.


DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS Nov. 1.  Please visit the following page for application procedures: 


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Financial Oversight Committee

Committee Chair: Past President Betty Moulton

Photo of Betty Moulton

There is not much to report from the Financial Oversight Committee. This will seem a good thing, as it means VASTA’s finances are being handled in an efficient and organized manner! The committee met at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2019 (end of June) and has a 3rd quarter meeting scheduled for the end of September.

A few discussion points are of note for members:

The Director of Operations is now fully in charge of the treasurer position in our organization. All systems to track our budget are organized and functioning well.

We are looking at how we spend our budget on member services, to ensure the bulk of our funds are going to this. We have not in the past included ‘in kind’ resources (ie. conference fees or membership fees waived as part of grants or awards) and are interested to see the impact of our spending when these are considered in the mix.

The committee has appreciated the input from our two Early Career Leadership Initiative members, Joe Hetterly and Ann Marie Pollard, representing fresh perspectives on VASTA and our financial workings. As they cycle off, we will have two new Early Career members in to observe on the committee in early 2020.

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Interdisciplinary Engagement Committee

Committee Chair: Colton Weiss

Photo of Colton Weiss

Hello VASTAns!

The Engagement Committee would like to thank everyone for connecting with us over the summer and during our shared time in Orlando!

Outreach & Promotion

Will you be attending a workshop or presenting at a conference in the near future and want to promote VASTA in the process? If so, the committee is excited to share that members can now request VASTA bookmarks and VSR flyers to share at professional events. If any member would like to request material, please email the committee at


Keep an eye on the website and other communication outlets for more additional information in the near future.


Grant Updates

The committee is pleased to share the following three articles from recent Interdisciplinary Engagement Grant recipients, Linda Nicholls-Gidley and Simon Masterton, CJ Greer, and Dr. Jenevora Williams.


Bringing VASTA and Knight Thompson Speechwork to the Drama Australia Symposium

Linda Nicholls-Gidley and Simon Masterton

Alongside roles at Australia’s leading tertiary actor training institutions and in theatre coaching, Linda Nicholls-Gidley and Simon Masterton have a voice and speech company called This Is Not a Drill. They offer workshops to people outside the professional acting world, with the aim of helping more, and different, voices to be heard.

We both work as voice and accent coaches in Sydney, NSW. Australia has a strong history of voice and actor training, but it also has a complex relationship with voice and speech. Many of the young Australian actors we have encountered in training carry with them a sense of shame about their voices and accents, and struggle to experience their own sound as a source of creativity, joy and power. The reasons are complex, but two contributing factors seem to be an enduring prescriptivism in high school over modes of speech, and residual colonialism, which to this day holds Received Pronunciation up as a guiding standard, dismissing Australia’s own accents as limiting, lazy, or ugly.

In tertiary actor training, and in public life, matters are improving. Teachers, actors and audiences alike are beginning to welcome a diversity of uniquely Australian voices on stage and screen. But at the high school level, there appears to be a disconnect. The drama curriculum grades students on vocal performance, and guideline definitions around what constitutes expressive and healthy voice use are generally clear. However, we had heard anecdotally that teachers do not feel they have the practical tools to show students how to explore their voices.

In 2019 we set out to explore whether fostering a relationship in Australia between VASTA and high school drama teachers might be of benefit. We wanted to learn about what matters to teachers and what works in their classrooms. We also wanted to know what they need in terms of support from voice professionals. We wanted to find out if our approach – a playful and empowering method drawing on many vocal pedagogies but in particular Knight Thompson Speechwork – could be of use in helping them achieve their goals. Knowing that the VASTA conference is coming to Sydney in 2020, we felt 2019 was the right time to be raising awareness of the organisation in Australia.

To this end, we sought a grant from VASTA to attend the 2019 Drama Australia Symposium in Hobart, Tasmania. The Engagement committee generously agreed to support our trip. We suspected these annual gatherings of drama teachers from primary and secondary education would offer us a chance to share and to learn, and they did.

The context in Hobart was apt to our project. The theme of the conference was Renewal, but there was a Photo of conference workshopstrong focus there on educators of the past. As it turned out, Tasmania is not only the birthplace of FM Alexander, it also has a strong history of speech training. There was an exhibit about a British couple who came to Tasmania in the 1950s and established a network of teacher training for verse-speaking and storytelling in primary schools across the state. The closing session of the symposium featured a video of interviews with some of the original teachers, now in their 90s, who had toured tirelessly for years. It was entertaining and moving, and showed how individual passion can lead to major change. It was also important for us to see the human face of a way of teaching speech that we fundamentally disagree with. The prescriptions about good speech these people took out to the more remote communities of Tasmania did not treat all dialect communities with equal respect, and reinforced existing social hierarchies. However, this experience showed us that even if we end up challenging their methods and assumptions, our forebears were working with the same passion and commitment about education that we are. It was a timely reminder to treat the teachers we encounter – who may not share our views about voice and speech – with respect and consideration.

We later ran a packed-out workshop entitled “Revitalising Voice and Speech in the Classroom”. Participants took a trip to the mouth gym, explored a variety of invented languages and performed improvised poetry for each other. Monologues and songs were translated into other speech sounds, then analysed for what they could tell us about the speaker’s habits and strengths. Laughter was ubiquitous, but so was discovery, both vocal and pedagogical. We satisfied our audience by balancing experience with analysis.

Photo of authors in sweathshirtsWe also made sure to talk about VASTA, to wear our hoodies(!) and to mention our many members operating across Australia. Our participants were from every state in Australia and hungry for more training and support. Their feedback fell into three areas.

First, teachers were delighted and relieved to be offered creative, acting-linked tools to help develop their students’ speech skills without dictating how they choose to express themselves. Many expressed that they had struggled to find ways to teach voice that weren’t corrective, and they found this approach, which foregrounds improvisation and individual curiosity, more in line with their own teaching philosophies.

Second, they appreciated our attention to descriptive physiological and phonetic detail. Understanding what is actually happening during voice and speech use is invaluable for teachers. They may of course adapt the technical understanding to language suitable for their students, but they enjoy having underlying knowledge that is clear and precise.

Third, they are hungry for more. A short survey sent to participants after the conference yielded enthusiastic responses expressing interest in working on body and breath, resonance and spatial acoustics, accents, speech skills, text work and presence. Groups in Western Australia and the Northern Territory have contacted us to run teacher training in late 2019, and to work with school pupils.

We hope there will be a chance to keep the relationship growing leading up to the Sydney conference in 2020. We will be considering whether there are workshops we could offer specifically for drama teachers as a part of the conference, and also hope some may attend the whole conference and build stronger bridges still.

Our visit to Tasmania felt like the beginning of an exciting conversation about how voice and speech are taught in schools. There are challenges in assessment criteria and curricula, not to mention hidebound, embedded attitudes of right and wrong, but many teachers are excited to learn about our work, and there is hunger for new ideas and for change. We think this is a chance to have an impact beyond the drama school and we look forward to gathering more insights from teachers as we run more workshops this year and beyond.

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Performers Voice Conference

CJ Greer

This past April, 2019 I was invited to participate as a guest vocalist in a one-day voice conference. I am grateful to have received funding from VASTA’s 2019 Interdisciplinary Engagement Grant in order to attend the one-day “Performer’s Voice Conference” in Salt Lake City, hosted annually by the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Who am I/Why go?

I am a singing voice specialist with an MFA in Vocal Pedagogy/Performance for Music Theatre and MM in Vocal Pedagogy/Performance for Classical singing, both from Penn State University.  My MFA curriculum required me to take several voice/speech and movement classes which introduced me to a new world of potential interdisciplinary voice training. Very early on I realized the enormous benefits of voice/speech training for vocalists.  I find this training necessary for the music theatre major, but no less relevant for classical singers. However, voice/speech courses are not required for every music theatre degree (particularly those housed in music departments) and are never required for a classical music degree.  NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) does not require or even recommend it as a curricular option. I joined VASTA as a way to continue learning about voice/speech techniques in order to explore application in the one-on-one singing vocal studio environment. This conference seemed a wonderful way to get to know more about the science and medical side of working with the voice that I have had limited exposure to thus far. 

Who are They?/Why go?

The University of Utah Medical School annually presents this conference for any professionals whose area of expertise focuses on the voice, specifically The Performer’s Voice. It is frequently attended by singing voice specialists, voice/speech teachers of theatre programs, SLP’s, and voice scientists.  This conference seemed like a wonderful way to connect with peers who could help me better understand how members of our voice community come together in collaborative efforts to aid our vocal performers during times of vocal distress. I also saw the opportunity to examine how I might begin to put together a voice specialty team at my current university.  Salt Lake City is also now the home of the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS), led by renowned voice scientist Ingo Titze. Why go? An opportunity to meet and engage with Ingo Titze…reason enough for me!

The first presentation on the agenda was exactly what I was looking for – “Multi-Disciplinary
Care of the Injured Performing Artist.” It was a case study for a team rehabilitation plan including Otolaryngologist Dr. Marshall E. Smith – Director of the Voice Disorders Center, Speech-Language Pathologist Tiffany Lyon – specializing in voice, airway and swallowing disorders, Singing Specialist/Vocal Coach Dr. Lynn Maxfield – Associate Director of the National Center for Voice and Speech, and brave injured performer willing to speak about his injury and rehabilitation – Dr. Brian Manternach, wonderful singer and teacher of singing and voice pedagogy at the University of Utah.  As someone who is always seeking collaborative partners with expertise in other related areas, and who has been an injured vocal performer before, this topic was particularly poignant for me. Voice injuries are much more common than are made public. I hope to help students and professionals address them when they arise by being part of a rehabilitation team.

The second presentation was given by one of our two Keynote Presenters, Dr. Aaron Johnson – NYU Langone Health.  He presented “Science behind the tools: Neuromuscular effects of vocal training and aging on the muscles of voice production.” This presentation explained strength training vs. endurance training in professional athletes, made comparisons to vocal training, and ultimately took the stance of arguing for voice training as endurance training, rather than strength training.  His knowledge of anatomy and all things muscular is mind boggling and I would not do him justice by attempting to fully recap his presentation here. I recommend seeing him in person someday. 

The third presentation was given by psychologist and instructor Dr. Jonathan Cox from Brigham Young University.  His presentation “Anxiety and its potential impact on professionals’ voices” discussed levels and kinds of performance anxiety, and identified the science and neurological behaviors associated with it.  His information, combined with my background in voice/speech and movement, launched my own brainstorming for ways to implement anxiety reducing tactics into the voice studio by combining meditation, movement and voice work into our vocal warm-ups.  I spoke with him afterwards on some suggestions of things to do and ways to address them - exercises, habits, etc. I will be playing with some of these ideas this coming year in my vocal studio.

The final presentation was given by the second Keynote Presenter and my graduate voice teacher Mary Saunders-Barton, Penn State Professor Emeritus. Her presentation was a pedagogical Master Class “Speaking and Singing: Making the Connection for Actor.” It was her invitation to participate in her presentation that sparked my interest in this event.  I was scheduled to perform for her as a demonstration of utilizing speech in singing. After several weeks of minimal sleep, stress, and a full day of talking the day before including a 2.5 hour masterclass on ‘belting’ with University of Utah music theatre seniors, I woke up that morning hoarse. NO! As it turns out, Salt Lake City is even dryer than Reno! Though I sang and demonstrated, I was not able to produce the same quality of sounds that generally come so effortlessly for me.  It was a lesson in humility and how my ‘teacher’ energy has superseded my ‘artist’ – I am out of balance. However, between the conference and NCVS, I couldn’t have been in a better location to be receiving the information I needed.

To combat this imbalance in my teaching and singing life, I am embarking on a retraining program for the coming year, re-incorporating my voice/speech, movement and singing disciplines into my fall semester 4-5 days a week.  I can hear other voice faculty laughing at me now, as we all know how busy our schedules become once school is in full swing. However, I am determined. I miss my singing voice as it was before becoming a full time academic instructor.  It is not the same since I have moved to Reno, and I am on a mission to determine why and take whatever steps I can to remedy the situation. I am beginning with bi-weekly voice lessons with my colleague back east (via Skype), a recital and a concert to work towards for the spring semester, several short guest artist performances, and a lightly-staged workshop version of Andrew Lippa’s John and Jen, hopefully to present in Reno in the early parts of summer.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be back ‘in shape’ – but Dr. Johnson reminded me that I am training for endurance now and that takes time.  Dr. Cox reminded me that my anxiety will kick in, but I can work with it rather than against it. The rehabilitation team reminded me that this happens to many people and support is available, and my teacher and mentor, Mary, reminded me that I know how to do what needs to be done – I just need to do it.  I am so grateful to VASTA for the opportunity to attend this one-day conference (with certificate included at completion!) and I highly recommend it to others in the future. Oh, and I totally met Ingo Titze.

In the meantime, I am reaching out to our SLP department at UNR in hopes of garnering interest in collaborating our efforts between the SLP and music departments to explore ways we can work together to the benefit of both of our departments.  There are so many research projects I have in mind where SLP’s and Vocal Singing Pedagogues can collaborate together. Who wants to play?

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Voice Foundation Symposium, Philadelphia May/June 2019

Dr. Jenevora Williams


The Voice Foundation has been advancing understanding of the voice through interdisciplinary research and education since 1969. It is based in Philadelphia in the US and holds an annual symposium for voice professionals to meet and share research and practice. VASTA is an international organisation, inaugurated in 1986, whose mission is to advance the art, research, and visibility of the voice and speech profession.  Both of these bodies share a common aim of education and research, they are both committed to the link between health and art and the benefits of cross-fertilisation between disciplines.

It was my enormous pleasure to attend the Voice Foundation Symposium this year, enabled by a very generous grant from VASTA. I am a freelance academic and teacher, based in Guildford, near London. My work moves between running international courses for voice educators, mentoring singing teachers across the world, and running a teaching studio of professional classical singers. As a self-employed worker; any research, writing, presenting, travelling and study that I do is entirely self-funded. So the offer of a grant from VASTA was most welcome.

The symposium is a five-day event with a full schedule of presentations, workshops and a masterclass. There were over 500 delegates present; it’s a really big event. I’m so glad that I made copious notes throughout, as the rate of new information was bewildering. Several of my all-time heroes of voice research were there: Robert Sataloff, Ron Scherer, Matthias Ecternach, Nancy Solomon, including many old friends and colleagues such as Johan Sundberg, Ingo Titze, Christian Herbst, David Howard, John Nix, John Rubin, Sten Ternstrom, Ron Morris and Jeannette LoVetri.

If I have to single out some highlights, they began with Charles Larson’s basic introduction to the role of the brain. He explained beautifully and simply how the different areas of the brain had slightly varying functions related to voice both from evolution and practical necessity. These range from the basic life-support functions of respiration, through to swallowing and eating, and on to primal vocalising and the emotional gateway of the periaqueductal grey. The laryngeal motor cortex is better programmed to follow and mimic, it’s how we learn. It seems as if nearly every major part of the brain function has a link with emotion and singing. Matthias Ecternach gave a great presentation on nasalance as a means of achieving stability in the passaggio. We know that singers are not often aware of the subtleties of the movements of the velum. We now know that these subtle openings alter the pressure enough to allow the vocal fold open quotient to increase and ease the transfer across the passaggio; the degree of this varies considerably between individual singers.

Peter Pfordresher introduced us to the links between perception and action: the sensorimotor bases of poor-pitch singing. Pitch accuracy, of course, will decrease with more emotion in the performance. This is an important element of the colour and expression. The grunts and squeals of pop and rock distortion techniques were fully explored in a practical session by Mathias Thuesen and then illustrated in detail with a pig larynx by Christian Herbst. Kate Emerich presented excellent research into the role of the pelvic floor in expiration. I’ve always used this in my teaching and it was great to have its importance shown in MRI scans. We were given a workshop by Kari Ragan in which she demonstrated the use and application of several toys and tools: the flo-ball, the physio ball, the straw in water and a mask to sing into. Fun, practical and extremely useful.

There was a day of medical presentations that linked in with my own rehabilitation and voice clinic work. We had a long discussion on chronic cough with a panel of five clinicians. It was important to distinguish between severe coughing that could lead to incontinence, fractured ribs or loss of consciousness; and a more minor but nonetheless debilitating cough that can have one of several causes. These could range from reflux to asthma to post-viral irritation. When we learn about such severe symptoms, it can help singers to realise that their minor irritations are just that.

In the middle of the fourth day there was a NATS lunch (National Association of Teachers of Singing). This was a wonderful chance to chat with so many teachers from the US. In the last couple of years, I have been able to connect with singing teachers from around the world via Facebook groups. Many of the same names crop up and we can engage in lengthy discussions with complete strangers.  One of the best parts of the whole symposium was actually meeting these ‘strangers’. I had in-depth conversations with Karen Brunssen and Joanna Cazden, Lori Sonnenberg, and Yvonne Redman. Over meals I discussed aspects of singing and teaching with Kate Baker, Melissa Cross, David Myers and Kari Ragan. I made a podcast with Nicholas Perna for VocalFri.

The masterclass with Julianne Baird was probably the most inspiring one I have ever attended. She has had a stellar career as an early music soprano, informed by a doctorate in music history. Her approach was often driven by the text: finding meanings and nuance in the repetition of phrases in order to give musical shape and intention. She had some very helpful ideas about ornamentation as colour and emphasis. One of her trilling techniques was to begin with rapid, larger intervals – a bit of a yodel; this enables the unencumbered movement of the pitch-change mechanism, which could then be refined and directed into a trill. She was kind, helpful and informative, really stimulating.

Right at the end of the last day, I gave my presentation ’Which sung pitch range is best for boys during voice change?’ This was based on longitudinal research carried out with boy choristers at a major London Cathedral. Several of the boys assessed were in the early stages of voice change by the end of the project; we were able to compare their vocal efficiency in terms of vocal fold closure at the age of 10 and 13yrs. Although the recordings of both ages sounded acceptable, when played side by side, the difference was more obvious; the boy was struggling more to sing high when in Stage III. My point was that the boy himself would not perceive it as a struggle as the changes were incremental. When you drop a frog in boiling water, it leaps out. If you put it into cold water and bring it to the boil, it will die. We don’t notice incremental changes over time, until they reach a tipping point when everything falls apart, and we have some sort of vocal disaster (voice breaking perhaps?). There is a link here to a YouTube film of my presentation:

The outcomes for me are 46 pages of notes about voice, some future research collaboration on performance anxiety with Dr David Juncos and a tour of the US next summer giving four of my Teaching Young Voices courses. That is more than I could have imagined, all from five days of intense listening, discussing, connecting, thinking and reflecting. It was an amazing experience; thank you VASTA.


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Membership Connection Committee

Committee Chair: Joe HetterlyPhoto of Joe Hetterly

The Orlando Conference was a beautiful example of the VASTA community coming together to create something wonderful. Members new and old came from all over the world, virtually and in person, to communicate, to connect, and to learn about others and their cultures. Thank you to Kendra Kingsbury and the Conference Planning Team who helped this incredible conference come to fruition.

During the conference, a raffle was held to support VASTA scholarships where the winner would win a fee waiver to attend the Sydney 2020 conference. You could purchase a ticket or, if you spoke to someone on each VASTA committee and learned about what they do, you could also earn a free entry into the raffle. One of my favorite moments was when a highly competitive VASTA member went on an early mission to collect the signatures. What started out as a game quickly turned into a genuine connection experience. This member expressed how this simple game helped them meet people they may not have ever talked to and they also found out about member initiatives they did not know existed. Whether they won the raffle or not became less important; they now had the tools to stay connected and engaged with the community.

The community can feel so alive during a conference and as a member of the newly formed Membership Connections Committee, I am here to encourage you to keep it alive as we go back to our respective lives. The Membership Connection Committee (MCC) merges the former offices of Director of Membership, Associate Director of Membership and Human Resources Coordinator. The primary duty of the MCC is to help members take full advantage of their membership by keeping them connected to the services, benefits, resources and opportunities available through VASTA. The MCC reports to the board liaison for Membership. The MCC is comprised of three members who serve two-year rotating terms and who represent three levels of experience with VASTA:

  • Junior member: a person with 2+ years of membership; ideally, an Early-Career Leader.
  • Associate member: a person with 5+ years of membership, and service to the association.
  • Senior member: a person with 10+ years of membership, and senior service to the association; ideally, a Past-President.

The committee members are currently Mandy Rees, Jeremy Sortore, and me, Joe Hetterly.

If you have any questions or just want to get connected to the services, benefits, resources, and opportunities available through VASTA please reach out to the MCC at

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Mentorship Initiative Committee

Committee Chair: Ursula Meyer

Photo of Ursula Meyer

Dear Esteemed Colleagues Members of VASTA!!!

After an invigorating conference and continued enthusiastic support on the part of the membership for this exciting new initiative, we are pleased to announce the next set of Zoom panels and to update you on the progress of our committee.


Watch for us on the third Sunday of every other month beginning this November.  This cycle’s topics will be…..


November 17 –-“ Freelance Work – the Whats and Hows “  Moderator/Curator Amy Chaffee - specific details below!

January 19 –– “ Negotiating for What you Need” – Contracts and Conversations” Moderator/Curator Jeremy Sortore

March 21 -– “ The Interview Process-from CV to Job Talk to Workshop/Presentation” – Moderator/Curator Ursula Meyer

May 16–- “ Working in Australia – Coaching/Training/All things Professional Voice”

Moderator/Curator Jennifer Innes 



Freelancing: the Whats and Hows. Have you thought about opening up your own freelance voice studio? Are you recently graduated with an MFA or MA and not sure how to monetize your hard-won skills?  Are you currently working as a freelancer and looking for support or tips from people who have made it work?  Our panel of international freelancers includes voice coaches, singing coaches, dialect coach guns-for-hire (the road warriors of VASTA working on multiple shows in a metropolitan region) and some who have started their own Voice studios with a space all their own.

Here is the official very exciting list:

Zachary Campion, Washington D.C., USA - (Olney Theatre, Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, Marymount University)

Beth Gudenrath, Ashland, OR, USA - (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Private Studio)

Helena Walsh, Dublin, Ireland -  (Helena Walsh Acting and Voice Studio)

Jenny Kent, Melbourne, Australia - (VCA, NIDA, The National Theatre, The Arts Academy in Ballarat, Verve Studios and workshops at the Equity Foundation, Private Studio)

Donya Metzger, Vancouver, BC, Canada - (Private Studio)

There are NO stupid questions and this is the perfect opportunity to ask all of them!  

Join the VASTA Mentorship Initiative Zoom Panel on Freelancing to ask questions of our International Panel.  Sunday November 17 at 12:30pm PST/3:30pm EST, 830pm UK/Ireland/Monday, November 18 at 7:00am Adelaide, 7:30am Melbourne/Sydney.  

All of our Mentorship Initiative Zoom panels will be automatically recorded and archived and available to VASTA Members for future viewing and reference.  Come join us and find out about the magical world of freelance voice work!

-Amy Chaffee



We are currently running a 'Mentorship Trial' to help us develop the best possible service for our participants. If you have a Mentor/Mentee (or a peer partner) in mind and would like to participate in the trial, please mail us at for instructions.


We are still looking for your input on what you want to know, how you want to participate, what you’d like to share. Please feel free to write us with all your thoughts.  Here’s to connections!


The Mentorship Initiative Committee 

Jeremy Sortore, Jennifer Innes, Amy Chaffee, and Ursula Meyer (Chair)

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Teaching and Learning Committee

Committee Chair: Ann Marie PollardPhoto of Ann Marie Pollard

Upcoming Teaching and Learning Events

Please mark you calendars and join us for the quarterly VSR Book Club Zoom Meeting!

Our next Zoom Meeting is on November 18th, 9:00-10:30PM GMT (London time).

Daron Oram will be joining us to discuss his articles:

  1. Losing sight of land: tales of dyslexia and dyspraxia in psychophysical actor training, Daron Oram, Pages 53-67 | Published online: 14 Mar 2018,
  2. Finding a Way: More Tales of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in Psychophysical Actor Training, Daron Oram ORCID Icon  Pages 276-294 | Published online: 19 Sep 2018 Download citation

The Zoom Link for the meeting is:

Members are encouraged (but not required) to read articles before attending the VSR Book Club so that they can actively engage.

Teaching and Learning Transitions: 

Please join the board in thanking Diane Robinson for three years of leadership, member engagement, and volunteer spirit.

With the assistance of Kristi Dana, the committee’s board liaison, we welcome Ann Marie Pollard as the new committee Chair. Ann Marie invites all current committee members to e-introduce themselves and to share their needs and desires for the group. She also invites VASTA members interested in pedagogy and/or practice-based research to be sure they’re getting email updates from TLC. Reach out to Ann Marie at

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Freelance Coaching Column

Meredith Colby

Meredith Colby

Near Me: How to Make Your Website Show Up on Page 1 of Local Searches

By Meredith Colby

I’m an independent instructor. If I want to be on the first page of a Google search for voice teachers, I don’t have a chance of competing with education businesses that have big marketing budgets.

I’ve got an edge on the big guys, though, for a certain and very common type of search.  The “near me” search. You may have used this search term - sometimes at the suggestion of the search engine itself – in looking to find a service provider in your area.

With no budget to hire an online marketing djinn, my website will show up on Page 1 of Google if someone within five miles of my studio searches for “voice teachers near me,” or “vocal coaches near me.”  That’s about 185,000 people. If you want to know how I do it, keep reading.

Before I get to the list, I want to advise you to keep your wits about you in the face of scary words. It’s hard, I know.  Most of us hate this ever-changing and technical marketing stuff, but it’s part of keeping our calendars full.

Please remember that I’m no expert in marketing, and if I can do it, you can do it.  IN FACT, if you think you can’t do it (whatever “it” is) please go to YouTube and find some nice person who will explain what you need to know. I’m limited in the amount of explaining I can do in an article of this length, but cyberspace is an unlimited universe of information. Someone out there will help you understand each of these bullet points.

You don’t have to do all these things. Any one of them will help you in your quest to appear on Page 1, and the more you do, the more likely it is you’ll achieve that coveted placement.

8 Ways to Optimize for Near Me SearchesGoogle Search photo

Good Looking with a Nice Set of Keywords

Have a professional, attractive website with lots of keywords

Search engines don’t much care if your site is pretty, but your potential clients do.  You have about 3 seconds to capture their curiosity and make them want to see more. Most drag-and-drop site builders make it easy to create a great site. Use Pixabay or Pexels for royalty-free images, and Canva to create terrific graphics.

Keywords are the words or terms your potential clients would type into a search bar.  Note I said “your potential clients” not “your college professors.” In the copy on your site – especially your home page - use the kinds of words that your clients would use, and answer questions they would have.

YES: Cara is a voice coach, speech coach, and dialect coach. She helps actors and public speakers from around the Greater Wellwater, NC area as well as online.

NO: Cara holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and a Master’s in speech-language pathology.  She has tutored and taught classes to all levels of theater professionals and professional speakers.

Create a Google My Business Profile

There are also business listing pages for other search engines such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo.  These listings ask for information about your business so it can show up as being relevant to certain searches.  Give it as much information as you can. The two biggest pieces of advice I can give you about this is to list your address and use your potential client’s vernacular (See the previous point.)

Google My Business

Utilize the Google Search Console

In their own words, this tool helps you “understand and improve how Google sees your site.” 

Google has a surprising number of rules, and you need to play by them to make Google like you.  Recently, for instance, my Google console told me that one of my pages was not displaying navigation on the header of one page. I had 30 days to fix that or my site would not show up for anyone except those who typed in my specific address. Yikes! 

YouTube video about Google Search Console

Make Mobile Phones Like You

According to some trustworthy online marketing diviners, upwards of 80% of “near me” searches are made from mobile devices.  If you’ve ever looked at a website on your phone that wasn’t optimized for phones, you know both how squirrelly they can get and how off-putting that is.

If you’re using a drag-and-drop site builder you can easily edit your site’s laptop/desktop version as well as its mobile version.  Be aware that those are two different editing pages, and you have to attend to both of them. Wordpress sites are not as easy to manipulate, but they are somewhat more reliable. Take the time to make sure your site is mobile-phone-friendly. 

Keep Search Engines Interested

If nothing changes on your website, Google will think you’re not interested in it, so they’ll lose interest as well.  Things you can do to keep search engines interested:

  • Post valuable information that will benefit your ideal client.
  • Blog regularly. Your entries don’t need to be long, and can occur once or twice a month.
  • Post photos and videos.  Make sure you indicate your location when you post. You can invisibly “tag” each image or video with additional information, which should include your name, what you do, and your location. If you don’t know how to do that for your web platform, ask the “help” in your website builder or search the answer online.
  • Create and delete pages as needed.  If you’re having a recital for your students, for instance, create a page for that and delete it after the fact.  Again, make sure a local address is indicated on the page.

List Your Events

If you don’t already have it, create a list of sites that will allow you to announce events.  No matter where you live, there are between two and ten sites you can utilize to post your events online.  Some are simple calendars (check your local newspaper) and some are ticket sellers. Take a look at their front end (what the customer sees) before you enter information on the back end.

No event is too small.  For instance, say you decorate your lobby every year during the first week of regular school-year lessons.  Turn it into an event by listing days and times your lobby is open, putting some brochures and candy out, and featuring a 10-minute talk on “How the Performing Arts Improve Your Child’s Academic Progress.” Boom! An event!

List Your Own Self

If you’re a member of an association, organization, or foundation, be sure your profile is filled out completely, including your address.

Additionally, you can look for listing sites that serve your geographic area and your area of expertise. Type “list” or “listing” of “your profession” in “your area.”  The search engine will probably show you one or more opportunities you may have missed to list yourself. Make sure you include your location.

Location, Location, Location

  • Use location-based keywords on your site.  For instance:

YES: Eric works with students from Derbyshire, KY schools Austin Middle School and Bennet Middle School. He also schedules private clients at his office in the Pemberley Office Building, 123 Darcy Circle, Derbyshire, KY.

NO: Eric works four days a week for the Derbyshire public schools. He’s available to see private clients at his office on weekends.

  • Tag social media posts with locations.
  • Share locally relevant news items on your social media.
  • Make sure you have ONE way of listing your location, and you are consistent between posts and platforms.

Your Google search console will show you the analytics for your website, so you can enjoy watching how implementing some of these tips get you more attention online!

Meredith Colby has been a freelance voice teacher for over 30 years. She’s the author of Money Notes: How to Sing High, Loud, Healthy, and Forever, and the creator of Neuro-Vocal Method, the CCM/Popular voice training method based on brain science. She is available for seminars and masterclasses through her website. Meredith writes and teaches privately in Deerfield, IL where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat, and would love to hear from you at or at

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Conference And Membership Updates

VASTA 2019 Conference - Connectors, Communicators & Culture

Kendra Kingsbury


Photo of Kendra KingsburyA note from the 2019 Conference Director:

Thank you to everyone that attended the 2019 VASTA conference: Connectors, Communicators, and Culture! With 130 participants - 42 that attended for the first time(!), and 5 continents represented - it was a highly successful conference and truly a magical experience! We had an amazing time connecting with each other and experiencing workshops from voice and speech practitioners from all over the world.

To view/download the 2019 conference photos by our amazing conference photographer, Bella Miranda, go to

Our conferences are made special by our amazing community, so truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone that was able to attend. Also, we want your feedback! If you were in attendance this year, please fill out our post-conference survey - - so VASTA can take your comments or concerns into consideration for future conferences.

Hope you can join us in Sydney 2020!!


And speaking of 2020...

For the first time, VASTA will hold its annual conference next year in Sydney, Australia! The conference will be held at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).
The conference dates are: 24 July to 28 July 2020.
The Call for Proposals is now open!
We are excited to announce the 2020 conference theme: 
Dreaming the Future: Evolving Traditions.

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Stacey Cabaj


Stacey Cabaj

VASTA was well-represented at the 2019 Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference in Orlando, and we want to make sure we continue this for the 2020 ATHE Conference. The conference will be held in Detroit, Michigan from July 29 - August 2, 2020 and has the theme of “DRIVE: Combustion ⇔ Energy ⇔ Resilience ⇔ Drive ⇔ Resilience ⇔ Energy ⇔ Combustion.” For more information on the conference and its theme, head to: Let’s help our colleagues at ATHE with a wide-range of workshops and panels that focus on voice as a “driving” force in our lives. 

Below are some important details about the proposal process for the VASTA Focus Group at ATHE. It is important to notify me, the VASTA Focus Group Conference Planner, what you are intending to propose before you submit your proposal form. I will be able to make sure we keep the proposals varied and can link up similar proposals if needed. Additionally, ATHE prefers that all sessions have more than one presenter, so I can also help you find others with a related focus area who also wish to present. Start planning now and reaching out to me with your ideas!

For the following proposals, the deadline is November 1st, 2019, 11:59pm, Central Standard Time:

  • Workshops: Demonstrating practical, hands-on work.  Workshops usually have a minimum of three (3) presenters but can include more. These can be experiential or pedagogical in nature.
  • Paper Panels: A formal panel presenting papers/research exploring the facets of a single topic. Minimum of three (3) presenters as part of the panel.
  • Panel Discussion/Roundtable: A more informal discussion of a single topic with three to five participants.
  • Multidisciplinary Panels: These can be any of the above formats, but must include multiple disciplines, such as VASTA and the Acting focus group. Please contact Stacey Cabaj ( if you plan to put together a Multidisciplinary Panel. These panels must be sponsored by at least two focus group conference planners and each focus group’s conference planner must be contacted. If you have an idea for a multidisciplinary panel but don’t have a group assembled, let me know and I can help you to reach interested parties from other Focus Groups. There’s a list of Focus Groups available at:  Note: The presenting group does not have to contain representatives from focus groups but must have the sponsorship of the two groups.

For Debut Panels the submission process and deadline are different:

  • Debut Panels: We encourage First-Time ATHE Presenters who have short presentations (approximately 20 minutes) to share hands-on voice exercises and/or paper topics. Please send your “proposed exercise to present” or paper abstract directly to Stacey Cabaj ( by March 30, 2020.

If you have questions about the submission process or if you just want to talk through your ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact the VASTA at ATHE Conference Planner –

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Voice and Speech Review

Rockford Sansom

Rockford Sansom

Hello, VASTA members,

There are several important announcements for the Voice and Speech Review (VSR):

1. VASTA members must take action by October 1 in order to receive the 2019 printed VSR.

Just like last year, VASTA members must opt-in to receive the 2019 printed VSR. If you opted-in last year and successfully received your copy, then the system should still have your information. Nevertheless, I greatly encourage everyone to double check. 

Instructions on how to opt-in for your free printed copy and answers to frequently asked questions are below. And the deadline for the 2019 printed copy is October 1, 2019.

2. Oct. 15, 2019 is the final submission deadline for the 2020 volume.

The next deadline for general article drafts is October 15, 2019. The 2019 volume is closed. All new submissions are for 2020 consideration or even potentially for 2021 consideration. The journal processes articles in the order they are received. Early submission is greatly encouraged.

Click here for the call for papers.

3. New VSR articles are available now! See below for login instructions.

4. The History of Voice Pedagogy…the book.

Because of the journal’s continued success, this fall Routledge will be printing the VSR’s special issue, The History of Voice Pedagogy, as a book that will be available in bookstores and online. All proceeds go directly to VASTA. I’ll send out more information to VASTA members once it is available.

Please let me know if you have any questions, would like any further information, or would like to get involved in the VSR.


Most sincerely,

Rockford Sansom, Editor


New Articles are Available Now!

Baring the Bones: Making the Shift from a Muscular to a Skeletal Paradigm in Voice Training by Robert Sussuma

Reforming Voice Training in China: An Intercultural Approach by Yanxia Zhou

Walking the Talk: Teachers as Practitioners of Fitzmaurice Voicework by P. Michael Yurchak

Vocal Traditions: The Roy Hart Tradition by Kevin Crawford and Noah Pikes


To Access the VSR Online:

1) Go to the VASTA homepage (

2) Scroll down the right side of the page to find “Click Here for VSR Online Access” 

3) Login

4) “Click to Read the VSR Online”


More Information about the VSR:

About the VSR

Editorial Board 

Call for Papers

Author Guidelines 

Book and Media Review Information

Frequently Asked Questions 

Resources for Authors 

VSR Awards 


To Receive a Printed Copy of the 2019 VSR:

1) Go to the VASTA homepage (

2) Click “Member Login” at the top right to login

3) Update or confirm your mailing address in the “Profile Info”

            Be sure to click “Save” if you make changes

4) Go to “Pro Index Pref”

5) At the top of the page, select “Yes” when asked:

Would you like to receive a print copy of the Voice and Speech Review mailed to your address on file?

6) Click “Save” at the bottom


Frequently Asked Questions about the Printed Copy Update:

When will I receive the 2019 printed VSR?

The 2019 volume will print and mail by December 2019. However, members in various countries receive their copies at different times because of global shipping. Allow up to three months for delivery (March 1, 2020).

My address is already up-to-date on the Profile Info page of the VASTA website. Do I need to reenter my address?

No, the volume will be mailed to your address as listed on the Profile Info page. Just make sure that you have selected “Yes” when asked if you want a VSR printed copy in the Pro Index Pref section of the VASTA website.

Keep in mind that your "Profile/Account Info" and "Pro Index" pages on the VASTA website are separate. Updating one page DOES NOT update the other, so always check that the information on both pages is current.

If I do not want a printed copy of the VSR, will I still have complimentary digital access?

Yes, all VASTA members receive complimentary digital access to the VSR. You can access every volume since the journal’s founding in 2000.

Can I change my mind about receiving a printed version of the VSR?

Yes, you may change your selection at any time. However, be mindful that your selection is recorded on October 1 of each year for the annual printing.

Do I have to select “Yes” each year if I want a printed copy of the VSR?

No, once you select “Yes” and elect to receive a printed VSR copy, you will not have to update your profile yearly. Nevertheless, we highly recommend that you confirm your selection and your current address each year before October 1.

Who do I contact with questions?

Contact the Editor-in-Chief, Rockford Sansom, at  


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Early Career Leadership Initative

Ann Marie Pollard & Joe Hetterly

Hello VASTAns!

Joe Hetterly and I have had an excellent time joining the Board of Directors for their meetings this year as Early Career Leaders. We’ve decided to share our report in the form of a video interview.

CLICK HERE to hear about why we applied, what we observed, and how the initiative impacted us. 

Interested in applying? Click HERE to read more about the initiative and

be sure to APPLY by Friday, October 26th!


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Member News

Ann Marie Pollard

Please find Member News from members with last names N-S below.Ann Marie Pollard

Members with last names beginning with: T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z -are invited to submit their news by November 15th (for our December Issue)

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

YOUR NAME IN ALL CAPS (Location City, State or Country)
Book Titles: italics, Play Titles: italics, Articles: quotation marks, Journals: italics

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

Thank you very much!                                                                                          

Ann Marie Pollard                                                                                     

Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice

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Angelicka NairANGELIKA NAIR (Madison, NJ) has found it and will be releasing it in her new book The Secret Life of Consonants. Make your songs and monologues as good as your warm-ups! (Compton, UK) this coming October, 2019. It is her hope that this effort to codify new insights on tongue shapes and maneuvers will benefit all voice users and practitioners! For over a decade now, Dr. Nair researches and specializes in the use of voice technology and kinesthetic and pioneered the practical use and implications of ultrasound as both a voice research and biofeedback tool in the voice studio. She has conducted groundbreaking research investigating the physiology of the Low Mandible Maneuver (drop of the posterior mandible) and its ramifications for resonance production, as well as the rehabituation of tongue shapes required for all phonemes in high-ranking singers using MRI, ultrasound and spectrographic techniques. With these new scientific discoveries, she has found a regiment of exercises combined with ultrasound imagery (supported by MRI) and step-by-step instructions and pedagogical tools that help accelerate the learning of various vocal strategies (physioacoustic) and improve the multitudinous challenges of sensory awareness, flexibility and control within the tongue.  


Linda Nichols GidleyLINDA NICHOLLS-GIDLEY (Sydney, Australia) completed her certification in Knight Thompson Speechwork in August. She was featured talking about voice and accents in “Get Clever” a children’s television program screened on Australia’s 7 network. Linda was interviewed about the Australian accent in Paul Meier’s podcast “In a Manner if Speaking” and about voice in general on the Podcast “Brady’s Hunch - The Podcast for Smart Dancers”. She recently worked with Sydney Living Museums researching and teaching historical Australian accents for a new immersive museum experience. So far this year Linda has coached 13 shows, including Once, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Russian Transport, Table and Saturday Night Fever and is currently prepping for another 2. Together with VASTA member Simon Masterton, she is the recipient of a VASTA Inter-disciplinary Engagement Grant which enabled them to facilitate a voice and speech workshop for drama teachers at the Drama Australia conference in Tasmania. She continues to coach actors and corporate clients across the globe with her company Voco Vox.


Andrew PapaANDREW PAPA (Detroit, MI) is entering his fourth year as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at University of Detroit Mercy in the Department of Performing Arts. He recently co-presented an embodied research workshop at the VASTA Conference in Orlando entitled "Emotional, Intellectual and Spiritual Approaches to the Fitzmaurice Focus Line." He is slated to direct Ebenezer and serve as a text coach for A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company. He was also recently cast as Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, which will be produced at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, MI.


Artemis PreeshlARTEMIS PREESHL (New Orleans, LA) The Voice and Speech Review published Dr. Preeshl’s “Yat, Uptown and Cajun French Accents in English”, co-authored with Kirby Wahl, and The Haun Journal published her comparison of Original Pronunciation and Appalachian dialect, “Shakespeare in Appalachia.” Routledge international interviews with 25 experts in her second book, Reframing Acting in the Digital Age: Nimbly Scaling Actor Training in the Academy, in June 2019. She completed the Knight-Thompson Phonetics workshop, made possible in part by Voice and Speech Trainers Association’s Dorothy Mennen Research and Professional Development grant. Dr. Preeshl taught dialects at Elon University in 2017. She teaches Self-Staging at the University of West Georgia. In Orlando, Artemis presented “South by Southeast: Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Coastal Dialects” on Gullah, with a demonstration by Christy Clark, and a comparison of Ocracoke, Tangiers, and Smith Island accents through VASTA’s Member-Sponsored Appreciation Award.


Sally Prosser

SALLY PROSSER (Brisbane, Australia) a former TV reporter and company spokesperson, is celebrating one year full time in her consultancy Sally Prosser Voice. She recently launched an online program called Speak to be Heard, as well as a podcast called ‘That Voice Podcast.’ Sally continues to work with young journalists all over Australia and recently presented an award at the Australian journalism industry’s night of nights – The Kennedy’s.


Oscar Quiroz

OSCAR QUIROZ  (Tegucigalpa, Honduras) Is still working as a voice and acting teacher in the Professional program of the National School of Dramatic Art and will soon premiere "Les Précieuses Ridicules" by Moliere. He continues to combine teaching and acting and is scheduled to perform in Casa del Teatro Memorias´s repertory productions of "Te juro Juana, que tengo ganas"  and  "La Ronde."


William RyderWILLIAM RYDER (Chicago, IL)  attended his first-ever VASTA conference in Orlando, where he led an experiential warm-up workshop: “Presence: the Universal Culture of Connection and Communication” based-on Patsy Rodenburg's Second Circle work.  It was a great first-time experience for him — blessed with great learnings and new friends — he is already making plans to attend the conference in Sydney. Coming in September, as part of an NEA grant he was awarded in collaboration with Shakespeare Behind Bars, he begins teaching a 32-session theatre and language arts curriculum to an enthusiastic cohort of juveniles at the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago.


Rockford Sansom

ROCKFORD SANSOM, PhD, MFA (Baton Rouge, LA) is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Louisiana State University and the voice coach of LSU’s resident theatre, Swine Palace. He also serves as a Lead Trainer for CMT London, a communication consulting firm, where he coaches executives and political figures. He has an article in the fall 2019 issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Voice and Speech Review (VSR), and this fall Routledge Press will publish his edited book The History of Voice Pedagogy, which is based on the VSR special issue.


Joan ShirleJOAN SCHIRLE (Blue Lake, CA) developed and taught a new workshop, Teaching Embodied Practice, at Dell'Arte International in July. She also taught at a July Alexander Technique retreat. She is currently working on a libretto for the chamber opera, Bird of the Inner Eye, with composer Gina Leishman, funded by a Discovery Grant from Opera America for Female Composers. Joan starred in Going Down In Flames, a new play by Danny Mankin about a clown who gets dementia, in Portland (May) and at the Mad River Festival (June). She will lead Dell'Arte's Study Abroad: Bali program in January:


Gwendolyn Schwinke

GWENDOLYN SCHWINKE (Chapel Hill, NC) has begun a new position serving as Resident Vocal Coach with Playmakers Repertory Company, and teaching voice and speech in the MFA program at UNC-Chapel Hill.  She remains a Company Member with Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, MA, most recently serving as voice/text/dialect coach for Merry Wives of Windsor and Taming of the Shrew, and teaching voice and text in the January Intensive and Summer Training Institute.



Judith ShahnJUDITH SHAHN (Seattle, WA) retired three years ago from the University of Washington. In her “retirement”, she has been teaching internationally “LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD” along with Kimberly White - a voice workshop for women in Chacala, Mexico. She has had the honor to co-teach with Kristin Linklater at the Kristin Linklater Voice Center in Orkney, Scotland : Advanced Voice and Sound and Movement to participants from all over the world. This led to her August 2019 workshop in Fortaleza, Brazil teaching Brazilian voice teachers an introduction to the Linklater Method. It was a five day, 30 hour workshop with 22 joyful, playful Brazilian teachers in the room. The workshop was simultaneously translated into Portuguese and this was the first time I worked with a translator. I taught them songs and I worked with them on their text in Portuguese. It was one of the most fulfilling professional experiences to date.

Lester ShaneLESTER THOMAS SHANE (NYC, NY) presented a workshop, IPA Hand Jive  at the 2019 Voice Foundation Symposium. Lester directed the world premiere production of Head First by Dennis Bush at New York's Fresh Fruit Festival. He performed in a reading of The Wall by Millard Lampell for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. His one-man show, Mortal Coil, was presented at Rutgers Medical School as part of their continuing education credits in death and dying. At the American Academy of Dramatic Art he directed Macbeth and The Crucible. He was dialect coach on Machinal at Pace University. He continues his private coaching work as well as teaching at The American Academy of Dramatic Art, New York Film Academy, and Pace University.


Jeremy SortoreJEREMY SORTORE (Salt Lake City, UT) is excited and humbled to begin his term on the board of VASTA this fall. Recent projects include a third season on the voice and text coaching staff at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he was the primary coach for Macbeth, The Conclusion of Henry VI: Parts 2 & 3, and The Book of Will. Jeremy is beginning his fourth year as Assistant Professor of Voice & Movement at Utah Valley University, recently joined the team of Theatrical Intimacy Education as an assistant faculty member, and will soon roll out a collaborative and cloud-based coaching app for voice and speech trainers at


Teresa SpencerTERESA SPENCER (Baltimore, MD) is beginning this fall as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University, teaching acting, voice, and movement classes and providing dialect coaching and fight choreography for department productions. She recently completed certification as an Assistant Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework® and continues to perform and coach dialects in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. She'll be on stage next as Cassio in an all-female cast of Othello with the Taffety Punk Riot Grrrls.



Hollace StarrHOLLACE STARR (Los Angeles, CA) Recent credits include The Taming of the Shrew (cross-gender movement and voice direction), Kander and Ebb’s Curtains (dialects) and Deanna Jent’s Falling (director), all at Pepperdine University.  Last summer she produced the world premiere of Tom Jacobson’s Mexican Day at Rogue Machine Theatre, and she is scheduled to direct Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London at Rogue in early 2020. Hollace is an Associate Professor of Theatre and the Head of Voice and Movement at Pepperdine University, and is a Designated Linklater Voice teacher. 


Ros SteenROS STEEN (Scotland, UK), Professor Emerita Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Accredited teacher of Nadine George Voice Work. Ros voice directed the world premieres of Local Hero (Lyceum and Old Vic), Red Dust Road (Edinburgh International Festival/National Theatre of Scotland/Home) and Lost At Sea (CATS awards for best Director and best Ensemble). She was the voice and text specialist for six further productions including Hamlet for Leeds Playhouse. She continued to give masterclasses and intensives in Nadine George Voice Work throughout the UK as well as work for STV and other media companies. Along with award-winning writer A.L.Kennedy, she was invited to give a presentation of their work on voice and writing to the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. She is currently working on a new version by Rona Munro of Frankenstein while continuing to develop the accreditation for new teachers of Nadine George Voice Work.






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VASTA Board of Directors & Officers

Board of Directors

Michael Barnes
2018 - 2020

Betty Moulton
Past President 
2018 - 2020

Pamela Prather
President Elect
2018 - 2020





Micha Espinosa

Cynthia DeCure

Daron Oram

Kristi Dana


Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Jeremy Sortore


Marie Ramirez Downing


Adriano A. Cabral






Nancy Bos
Director of Operations

Cynthia DeCure

Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


Erin Nicole Washington 

Rockford Sansom

Editor-in-Chief, The Voice & Speech Review

Kate Glasheen
Reviews Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Hollace Starr
Editor, The VASTA Voice

Ann Marie Pollard
Associate Editor, The VASTA Voice

Amy Hume

2020 Conference Co-Director

Jennifer Innes

2020 Conference Co-Director

Katerina Moraitis

2020 Conference Co-Director

Stacey Cabaj

ATHE Focus Group Conference Planner

Colton Weiss

Associate ATHE Conference Planner

Ginger Echart

Associate ATHE Conference Planner

Amy Chaffee
ATHE Focus Group Representative

Lynn Watson

Investments Officer

Kendra Kingsbury
Director of Technology/Web Services

Andrew Papa

Tech Team Member

Lauren Miller

Tech Team Member

Yolanda Heman-Ackah


 Officers, cont.

Amy Stoller
Editor, VASTA Links Page

Flloyd Kennedy
Editor, Workshop & Events Page

Janet B. Rodgers
VASTA Archivist 

Foster Johns

Social Media Content Manager







Committee Chairs

Kimberly Monhe Hill
 Awards and Grants Committee

Joy Lanceta Coronel
 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Colton Weiss
Interdisciplinary Engagement Committee

Ann Marie Pollard
Teaching and Learning Committee

Indira Pensado
Global Communications Group

Dolly May and Cliff Miller
Business and Corporate Consulting Committee (BizCore)

Betty Moulton
Financial Oversight Committee

Ursula Meyer
Mentorship Initiative Committee




More organizational information available at VASTA.ORG


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©2010, Voice and Speech Trainers Association