Uptalk?

I recently attended a two-day webinar devoted to transgender voice and communication training for voice clinicians. It was a fantastic experience, and I would recommend the training without hesitation. Even in a super-inclusive and culturally-sensitive environment, people are bound to put a foot in a mouth occasionally– we’re only human, and our implicit biases often slip under the radar. The workshop leaders acknowledged this at the outset, and called these slips “teaching moments”– opportunities to clarify our thinking and our language. At one point, someone said that they didn’t teach “uptalk” to trans women, because it wasn’t “assertive.” My cultural […]

5 Lessons Corporate Clients Taught Me About Teaching Voice & Speech to Conservatory Students

(Today’s post contributed by Rockford Sansom) Over the past several years, I’ve been privileged to serve as a voice coach for many corporate clients around the globe. I have a passion for these business men and women since so many of them deeply want to learn the skills voice coaches have to offer. Nevertheless, I admit that, at my core, I’m a man of the of theatre, and theatre folk historically don’t mingle daily with hedge fund managers and vice-presidents of marketing. So for me, coaching corporate titans had a steeper learning curve than teaching college-age conservatory students. In the […]

Skeptical Face

  This article showed up in the Vasta’s Voices Facebook group, and I’ve been ruminating over how (or whether) I should respond to it.  I mean, it’s just a fluffy little article for people to toss back and forth on Facebook. I really shouldn’t get worked up about it. But I am. I’m a little worked up.  And as I re-read the article I realized that it isn’t just the usual imprecision, and sensationalism that bothers me –the title of the blog where this story appears is “Facts So Romantic” so I shouldn’t be surprised    — What really turns my […]

Finding Your Voice

Today we bring you a guest post by Eric Armstrong, who teaches voice, speech, and text at York University. As a voice and speech teacher, I’ve been very lucky to have some great role models, mentors, colleagues and master teachers, all of whom have greatly influenced my approach to the art of teaching. I’ve also been very happy to have the opportunity to be a trainer of trainers, leading a speech and accent seminar as part of the now-closed Graduate Diploma in Voice Teaching at York University from 2003-2015. Any voice/speech methodology that has a teacher training program needs to […]

Time Put In

I’m looking forward to 2016 KTS Teacher Certification in June. Not only will I have the opportunity to discuss the intricacies of human communication and speech with exceptionally intelligent and good-looking people, but I’ll also get to visit New York for the first time in several years and decide which organs I will trade on the black market for a Hamilton ticket. One of the foundational concepts I’m looking forward to discussing this summer is one that I’ve had to manage frequently in my career as an accent coach in Los Angeles: time. Namely, the assumptions we make about time […]

An Apology For Rabbit Holes

Laura Barrett http://laurabarrett.co.uk/Alice-in-Wonderland   It’s true, I do find myself apologizing for my tendency to wander off topic, picking up some apparently tangential thread and tracing it back to the extent of my knowledge on the subject. However, I’m not planning on making an apology of that sort here, but rather an apologia, or defense of the pedagogical value of departing from the outline. Apology, by the way, comes to English from Greek (and subsequently Latin) apologia, which breaks down pretty easily into apo– “from” + logos “word” or “speech.” The original meaning was a spoken defense, and that meaning […]

Vocal Tract Posture and Four-Year-Olds

A version of this post was previously published in The VASTA Voice. Getting the vocal tract posture of a language or an accent right is a crucial part of successful accent acquisition. Vocal tract posture (also called oral posture), is the particular patterning of muscular engagement, release, and positioning characteristic of individuals and groups of speakers. It is, if you will, the ‘home base’ for an accent, and can be thought of as the position to which the vocal tract returns when at rest, or when preparing to speak or resume speaking. Phoneticians call it articulatory basis, or basis of […]

What is the Value of Broad Transcription?

This blog post is an open inquiry: what is the value of teaching broad transcription to actors these days? Every fall, I teach phonetics to my first-year acting students at Rutgers. Every fall, we go through the empty consonant chart, attempting to make each possible physical action – both voiced and unvoiced – in each individual cell. This physical exploration usually goes smoothly – sorting through the resulting consonant sounds as either familiar or unfamiliar depending on whether it’s a sound that actually occurs in some human language and on what languages my students speak – until we get to […]

Accent Coach Apologizes for Offending an Entire People! Read all about it!

In 2011 I was approached by an online “how-to” site to do a series of 2-5 minute “teaser” accent videos. The sort where you learn a few key features of an accent and you’re on your way. Great for the actor who has an audition in a few hours and needs a little something to point them in the right direction. The company asked me to make a list of all the accents I could do in a one-day recording session. They said, “You know, like 30 or 40.” O.      K.   Eager to please, I made as […]

Collecting accents

I wrote a thing. Two things, I guess: two short texts for eliciting useful accent samples. Here they are: Dali’s Last Hurrah* What frosty land is this? How was its fate decided? Coal-black mountains loom; Glassy pools reflect their huge, queer forms. A bird-like woman searches slowly through the trees; Flocks of trembling sparrows cluster about blood-red barns. I feel the flashing claws of chalk-white terror rip at my breath. My courage fails. A furious, hoarse voice whispers from the inky shadows, “He knew his duty. We cannot be afraid.” Fighting a fog of sudden nightmare visions— Savage lambs, Fork-tongued […]