This is the KTSpeechblog

We have so many avenues for communicating to a wider audience and amongst ourselves; what is it that a blog can do that isn’t handled by Facebook, or by Vastavox or by countless other speech/accent/phonetics blogs? Our hope is that this is a place where an idea can be proposed, and articulated with a little care, and the members of this community can weigh in to discuss it. It will be up to our blog authors to set out questions and challenges that can stimulate a conversation, but should also be a place where people who have encountered Knight-Thompson Speechwork can engage in […]

Geography of Speech

We often teach consonants* and vowels separately, but I wonder if that can lead to a disconnect for some students who feel that they need to digest two bodies of knowledge in order to understand the “geography” of speech. Really, consonants and vowels share a landscape: the vocal tract. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single graphic that integrates both types of speech sound and their places of articulation, or one that shows vowels and consonants lying on a single continuum in terms of their airstream (closeness vs. openness of stricture.) Some early phonetic charts did integrate consonants and […]

Practicality

One phrase stuck out to me in a recent discussion about adapting KTS for short-term goals. It was acknowledged that there are some snake oil salesmen out there selling quick-fix speech lessons. These “one-hour schmucks,” as they were termed, are more than happy to prey on naive clients desperate for an authority figure to “fix” their speech…and fast! KTS teachers, on the other hand, know that there are benefits to a slower, more thoughtful approach. As someone who had ventured to describe a short-term coaching project, I left the conversation wondering, is there room for efficient, targeted work in the […]

What’s in a Pedagogy?

In talking with Master Teacher Andrea Caban about Knight-Thompson Speechwork and how we teach it, I’ve begun to reflect on what a pedagogy is. Erik and Phil have both written extensively on the pedagogy of Knight-Thompson Speechwork, its origins and its principles. But Andrea and I have also been talking about its other aspects, the aspects that are slipperier to write about, harder to enumerate, eagerer(?) to avoid lists and charts and diagrams. We bandied about the ideas of “hard” versus “soft” teaching principles, or maybe the “form” versus the “content” of the pedagogy. That distinction got me thinking about […]

Posture Through Movement

Here’s an odd question: What if Speaking With Skill had been written specifically for French speakers (perhaps by Dudley “Chevalier”)? The “vowel calisthenics” figure-8 exercise beginning on page 279 might look something like this…try it out! Does your mouth feel more French yet? Sometimes coaching an accent’s posture can be challenging. Students may have different starting places, making relativity an issue. Describing the position of articulators can pose problems for students who can’t yet feel the movement or positioning of their vocal tract. In these cases, I remind myself that (oral/vocal tract) posture can be described not just in terms […]

Formality Follow-Up

The points that Jeremy raised in last week’s post are worth weeks of exploration, and I am so grateful for his courage and his insight in bringing his curiosity to this forum. I wanted to stumble my way into this socio-philosophical hall of mirrors with my own questions to bounce around in some attempt at securing my epistemological footing. In June, I taught an Experiencing Speech with Master Teacher Andrea Caban, and we bumped up against this same issue as we neared the end of the six-day intensive. While the group was quite comfortable with Dudley’s “Principles, Perhaps …” and […]

Formality

A few weeks ago, fellow KTS-er Julie Foh and I presented together in Singapore at the VASTA conference. Our topic was “Linguistic Detail in Singlish” and I was thinking a lot about, well, linguistic detail…but also the idea of formality. And I stumbled into a can of worms.One of Dudley’s innovations in Speaking With Skill is to avoid prescribing a standard accent for formal speech, focusing instead on a continuum of detail and efficiency. The reasoning behind this innovation is an awareness of the classism and racism inherent in the sort of traditional binary formal speech model represented here: This […]

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 […]

Writing a Book on Accents

  From Tyler: I’ve been thinking lately about writing a book on accent acquisition. Which has mostly resulted in me thinking about the challenges associated with writing a book on accent acquisition. And I’ll say up front: I know other Knight-Thompson teachers are laboring away at this very same idea, most of them much further along than I am. This blog post in no way aims to undermine their efforts, but rather explore the goals and challenges associated with accent acquisition education that arise when I think of writing a book on the subject. I’d love to have current authors’ […]

How Many Accents?

From Jeremy: In the last two posts, we (the editors) introduced ourselves and let you eavesdrop on one of our conversations. But enough about us! We’d like to hear from you. The big question I’m wrestling with today is: In a college accents course, how many accents should be covered, and which ones? Here’s a little more background… At the end of last term, I asked the students enrolled in my accents class what about the course was useful and what needed work. Everyone agreed that oral posture was a revelation and super-useful. Many were frustrated by the phonetics– as […]