Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians (and normal people)

Filtering by Tag: interview

The Intersection of Dance, Pilates, and Music: An Interview with Cicely Nelson

Cicely Nelson.jpg

Cicely Nelson is a violinist, educator, pilates teacher, dancer, and general somatic adventurer.  With a wide range of educational and artistic experiences, as well as having lived a number of places, she brings a unique perspective to all that she does.  She's also a recent Canadian transplant in Los Angeles, which is a new chapter in her career.  I am impressed by all that she does and I can't wait to meet up with her and move the next time I'm in LA.

K: Tell us a little about your varied career. You have a wide range of interests and training, and a blended career in multiple fields of education, somatic teaching, and music performance. (and a liberal arts degree too!) You also just moved to LA...
C: My parents are very musical and music was a constant in my house growing up. Dancing was really my first artistic outlet - I danced seriously (attending professional schools in Canada) and professionally until my early twenties (I am back to dancing now, after some time off, but not as much ballet). Dancing is a tough career though, and I think, in many ways, I was emotionally unprepared for it, and I found healing and strength in returning to therapeutic bodywork as a career while at university in New York. Music kind of slowly blossomed alongside that. So I'm not sure I even noticed at the time how helpful both conditioning and somatic work was for my playing! That I maintained my physical health was always kind of a given. Later, encountering so many musicians with physical issues, I really realized the value of the work I do! In New York I used to teach pilates to a big-name violinist. I'll never forget the day he asked me for a violin lesson – for the sake of his alignment of course, my head exploded nevertheless!

Cicely here in the early days of studying ballet

Cicely here in the early days of studying ballet

K: When did you start music study as a child, as well as dance, and how did studying those two performing arts concurrently affect you then and now?  
C: Like I said, dance was very much primary, but music always alongside. I don't think musicians always think of dancers as musicians (but of course they are) - and, similarly musicians do have far greater command of their coordination and propriocention than they realize! My bodywork makes me super keenly aware of the physicality of playing - to the extent that it can occasionally be difficult to get into a state of flow where I'm just thinking of the music. But generally body awareness really helps my playing.

K: How does the liberal arts degree factor into things?  
C: I didn't have much of a high school experience (due to ballet school), so college was really about studying anything and everything! Thankfully, I went to college in New York City so it was a tremendously stimulating place to kind of reroute my passions after the ballet career and, while I dabbled in premed and even contemplated going a more academic direction, I don't think it was really ever a question that I could stay away from the arts.

unnamed-2.jpg

K: You additionally have training in Suzuki- when did you start that?                                               C: I was made aware of the really excellent Suzuki teacher training program at the school for strings in NYC after I finished my undergraduate degree. In all honesty, the program's approach sounded so similar to Pilates! The school really emphasizes creatively finding a slow, steady, systematic path for every single student, regardless of ability or learning style. The skills that I had gained in training people to move came in really handy in teaching children to play. It's really such a great program! Incredible teachers – I think of them every day that I teach, not only the amazing violinistic tips but their humanity – how they really prioritized developing the whole child as opposed to just a little prodigies, how art for them wasn't just about creativity and achievement but also about emotional health. This resonated with me as it wasn't a balance that was particularly well struck during my own childhood.

K: How does have a somatic background affect the way you work with beginners and children? C: Oh wow, it's huge! Kids are so much more in touch with their emotions than adults, for a variety of reasons. Of course, they're not always able to understand or verbalize their feelings, but my awareness of how emotions manifest physically enables me to guide both their learning and performing experiences with extra sensitivity, I think.

K: Who have some of your biggest teachers/mentors been, either in movement or music?            C: I've been fortunate to study with some incredible mentors - in all of my endeavors. I've always sought answers very avidly and, for better or worse, impatiently - so, if one my mentors wasn't getting through to me, I would seek another answer. Of course the downside to this is that I have been a somewhat of a fickle student. 

In New York, I studied violin with Joey Corpus, who is just a total savant. He extremely creative about solving violinistic issues - he has no set system, his eye just seems to see. Also, somewhat ironically for a paraplegic, his instructions are extremely kinetic, an approach that resonated with me. 

In terms of bodywork, I absolutely adore Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Her work on embodied anatomy, living in our bodies instead of our minds, was and remains a game changer for me. 

Cicely doing swan on the ladder barrel

Cicely doing swan on the ladder barrel

Erika Bloom has been an incredible Pilates colleague and mentor. We met up in New York in 2006, where I was a member of the team that opened her first studio. It was so refreshing to work with someone who prioritized education and truly kept themselves and their team abreast of current anatomical and neuromuscular scholarship. I think that's becoming a more common model now, but not as much 10 years ago. I continue to work for her now, having moved to LA to open her first West Coast studio last January.

K: What has the intersection of movement and music done for you?  
C: They are the same to me. Vehicles of expression that demand massive amounts of devotion, drilling, sacrifice, and self care. But pursuits that are more rewarding than anything under the sun. Being a musician makes me a better dancer and vice versa. Pilates, yoga, and bodywork are truly my therapeutic recourse personally, but also teaching is both something that fills me up and enables me to give back in a really tangible way. Of course performing arts make people's lives better, but that can sometimes feel somewhat abstract? In teaching Pilates I feel I can make people's lives better in the moment, which provides a nice counterbalance to the occasional loneliness of artistic pursuits.

K: What are you currently fascinated with in your own movement practice and what do you want to learn more about?                                                                                                                            C: Oh that's such a great question. Last year, after a fairly stressful couple of years, I was working in the Caribbean and I had lots of extra time. My obsession then was limits – that I had always been focused on finding and pushing my boundaries and limits, but I wanted to take that time to find a real comfort zone – not pushing boundaries and leaning into ligaments, but really making my muscles stronger and becoming fluid and confident within my own skeleton. That was a really helpful direction to take and I do feel much more grounded now. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's work has been really influential recently, especially her studies on how we somatize emotion and, similarly, how movement is far more than a physical therapy, but also tremendously impactful on emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual levels.

K: What are some upcoming projects?                                                                                                C: Playing-wise, I am getting in shape for orchestra auditions. Given the variety of my interests, even if I could win a full time orchestra job, that wouldn't so much be my ideal life, I'm more focusing on getting in better shape to that I can play with better pick-up orchestras? My dream is to meet some local chamber musicians, that is of course my favorite thing. I had that in New York - people with whom you play for fun but people who are serious and professional so that a bunch of gigs came our way and we actually did quite well in the classical nightlife scene there for a few years! 

In terms of dance, I continue to dance here in Los Angeles, mostly studying with both visiting and local Flamenco artists and performing a little bit, just casually. I'm still pretty new to Flamenco, so there is so much to learn! But what I especially love in this art form is that the dancer is the musician.

I'm probably most deeply involved right now in getting Erika Bloom's studio up and running in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. I'm really excited for what our studio can bring to this city! In my experience here thus far, Pilates is usually lumped in with fitness and the whole magic bullet/vanity industry, which of course it can be, but we offer so much more than that - a really holistic approach to wellness, movement, and fitness that is about so much more than this typically-LA obsession with looking good - and an approach that is directed by arguably the best education available in the industry at the moment.

K: Thanks so much, Cicely!

For more on Cicely, visit her website at www.cicelynelson.com

The Intersection of Music and Psychology: An Interview with Lisa Chisolm of Master Performing

Canadian Bassoonist and Coach

Canadian Bassoonist and Coach

As I manage a busy summer season in upstate Western NY with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, I wanted to take a little time to share what some other amazing people are doing in the fields of music, medicine, movement, the brain, and more.  This week, I have an interview with Canadian Bassoonist and performance coach Lisa Chisholm of Master Performing, who began her career exclusively as an orchestral bassoonist, and has since branched out, while still retaining a performance career.  

KM: Tell us a little about your varied career these days -how did you get where you are today, in terms of your multiple degrees in music performance, as well as psychology and counseling.

LC: I studied music at McGill and at Juilliard, and have enjoyed 20 (egads!) years of a variety of freelancing and full time orchestral positions. Today, I am equal parts performer and coach. As an aside, I find this very helpful - it's important to be able to relate to clients on the level of having experienced elite preparation and performance, and I do often hear that feedback from clients. There is so much about sports psychology that translates nicely and directly into the performing arts, but so much that does -not- translate quite so directly. Filtering it all through the lens of a seasoned artist has proven to be, in my opinion, a wonderful combination.

The question of how I came to develop a parallel career with the Master Performing curriculum is a great one! Originally, I went in search of consumer-grade sport/performance material in order to bring more Olympic-level consistency to my own auditions. However, in my search, I found that there was a great lack of relevant and/or high quality consumer-grade material available, so I decided to go right to the root of the material, academically - so, I went to school when nobody was looking! I pretty quickly realized that there was a vital piece of curriculum that I wished I had had in my own training, and that I wanted to bring to other performing artists. That is why/how I developed my Master Performing program.

It's important to note, I am still as active as ever as a performer, by the way. Sometimes people assume that I have left playing in order to coach - quite untrue! One aspect of my coaching that I feel is vital is the fact that I am still very much on the stage, and am constantly filtering sport/performance psychology through the lens of a performing artist. I'll never stop playing; it is so much a part of who I am - and I also think it adds a vital dimension to my coaching.

KM: I can totally relate to that with my own dual career life.  What is the intersection between psychology and music, and how has learning more about the brain/mind/body connection changed your life and music making? 

LC: Wow, that question could take an all-afternoon chat -- and it would be a great one!!!! I think what I love the most is the idea that "psychology" is "the study of the brain/mind".... Often in a colloquial sense, people think of psychology strictly in the therapy/counselling sense, and often associate it all with stereotypical "problems", anxiety, depression, "seeing a shrink", etc. All these things are of course part of the field; but not to be overlooked is the part of psychology that is about how our mind learns, processes, recalls, executes... all these things that help us as performers! How to better acquire (learn) our material - memorize better, execute a passage more smoothly..How to be more efficient at practicing. How to handle distracting thoughts or occurrences during a performance; focus and distraction control. How our minds process the worlds around us and how we behave/perform. All these tools of excellence in preparation and consistency in performance - that is all psychology!  It is tremendously exciting to catalogue all this great stuff together into batches of information that is relevant to a high-level performer.

On this note, the Master Performing curriculum is a mix of sport and performance psychology, social psychology, the psychology of learning and memory, delivered through a coaching approach rooted in the approaches of positive, narrative, cognitive, behavioural, and solution-focused schools of thought. 

What I love most on a personal level is how EASY it has made things for me. As all performers know, a wonderful side effect of teaching and coaching others is that is brings clarity to that area in your own skill set. So it's a cute little triangle, that I originally sought out this information for my own betterment, instantly realized I wanted to collate it all together and bring it to other artists, and in the process of delivering it to other artists, presto-change-o, there is a degree of ease in my own preparation and performance that I am very happy about. Talk about win-win! :-)

KM: In terms of your client base, who do you primarily work with right now?

LC: In the performing arts, I work with approximately 50%-50% actors - musicians, and some dancers. (But presently mainly actors and musicians.) 

KM: What can working with you do for musicians, and how might they get started?  

LC: Working with me will make you smarter! Better-looking! You'll get more dates!!!! (*KIDDING!!!*)  Seriously though... Working with me, my goal is to educate performers on the mechanisms and concepts at play when we are getting in our own way, and to equip artists with a variety of tools which they can apply at the right moment. I feel very strongly that You Are The World Expert on You, and the best approach in terms of lasting improvement is a psycho-educational approach, where you learn the mechanisms at play in your own world, and can learn how to create a more efficient and effective performance approach for yourself. 

I am fairly no-nonsense and practical/tactical. I teach as much factual, evidence-based material as I can find. I avoid pseudo-science and soup-du-jour tactics, and I encourage critical thinking. I always want an artist to understand -why- they might employ a certain strategy for themselves, because what may work beautifully for you this week, might not work so well for you next week. I want you to have knowledge and tools to reach for in order to develop your own best approach for consistency. We are ever-changing and unpredictable in our vulnerabilities, and there will never be a one-size-fits-all answer. I am very wary of any approach which says, "Here are your X-number of steps and here is just what you should say/do pre-performance."

My workshop curriculum is loooooong. Presently 19 hours long. This is the best way to get all the foundational information and concepts. After that, 1-1 coaching is the best way to tailor those to the individual - we come up with strategies together that the artists will use for themselves.

KM: What are some of your upcoming projects or events?  

LC: Funny you should ask, particularly on the heels of that last question. :-)  Actually, very soon, in Boston I am hosting a 5-day intensive workshop from 7-11 August. It will cover the full Master Performing curriculum as well as some drills and "road-testing" of the skills. Here is the link to that: http://masterperforming.ca/optimal-artist-7-11-august-2017-boston-ma/

KM: Any last words/things you'd like to add?

LC: Kayleigh, you have asked some great questions! Thank you so much for having me as a guest. If I would add anything, it would be how delighted I am to be a part of this field, in a time where the performing arts field is really beginning to recognize that what we ask of our minds and bodies in performance is truly Olympic - and yet typically we have only had training on our artistic craft, and not the auxiliary areas necessary for prime performance. I am so thrilled to hear of schools which are beginning to incorporate this material into their curriculum, and practitioners who are bringing complementary physical and mental pieces of the puzzle to the artistic field. Outside of this interview, we spoke about Body Mapping - that is one great example! I would describe Body Mapping as "functional anatomy awareness for performing artists". Did anyone teach me about me rotator cuff and my ulna and radius when I was in school? No. Did I use my rotator cuff and ulna and radius 10 hours a day while practicing, reed-making, carrying my instrument, etc? Yes! When I think of it, how can we NOT be teaching this in conservatories?!? We're asking Olympic level duties of our bodies, and yet how many of us know how our arms and hands are put together?  Same goes for the mental preparation. So, I am so pleased to be here at a time that I would consider "the forefront". I hope that in 10-15 years, this material will be commonplace in artistic training institutions, and that we will all look back and marvel at this stage.

KM: Thanks so much, Lisa!

For more about Lisa and Master Performing, visit www.masterperforming.ca

It’s Finally Showtime for Documentary on Performance Anxiety, “Composed”

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been connected with John Beder and the documentary, “Composed,” since its inception almost two years ago.  “Composed” is a documentary that explores performance anxiety in professional classical musicians, a topic that has historically been ignored.  

Through the lens of professional classical musicians, Composed explores the many ways we experience and can address performance anxiety. Faced with the judgment of peers, audience, conductors, and worst of all themselves, these musicians spend years trying to understand and overcome the physical and mental manifestations of their anxiety. Through their stories, we learn valuable lessons learned over a lifetime of professional performance; and we find that we are not alone in our quest to overcome the fear of failure and embarrassment. For anyone wanting to feel strength over fear and compassion over judgment, or simply seeking a closer look at anxiety and what makes us tick, Composed opens the door to a world of high stakes, high pressure, and peak performing. -John Beder on "Composed

John Beder presenting at the most recent ICSOM conference in Washington, D.C.

John Beder presenting at the most recent ICSOM conference in Washington, D.C.

 We were initially connected by a mutual friend from Boston, and I’ve been truly amazed at what John has accomplished since our first interview in the winter of 2015.  This month, “Composed” hits the road with its American showings at a series of different music colleges and venues, including New York City, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many more.  With 61 interviews completed, and over 120 hours of footage collected, this project has extended far beyond what John or I had expected in our initial interview.  The documentary began its funding as a kickstarter campaign with a $4500 initial investment, and John and his wife used personal funds to finish the project.  He additionally initiated the 2015 Musicians' Health Survey through ICSOM, collecting statistical data on professional musicians and performance anxiety, and spoke at the most recent ICSOM conference this summer.

  The first public showing occurred this past week at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA (my alma mater!), and received an overwhelmingly positive response from both students and faculty.  Rachel Roberts, Director of Entrepreneurial Musicians at New England Conservatory, wrote, “The film ‘Composed’ addresses the topic of performance anxiety in a comprehensive and approachable way. The story-telling and personal narratives woven throughout the film showcase how this topic impacts nearly every musician, as well as suggests a variety of individual and different strategies to help overcome the issue. Most importantly, this film begins a public conversation around a topic that has too often been buried from artistic practice. This film should be required viewing at every music school!”  

Vanessa Mulvey, Body Mapping® Instructor at New England Conservatory wrote, "Composed captured so many of the experiences I have been through in my musical career.  It was comforting to realize one is not alone in this journey and to see the different paths available to change the way one responds to performance anxiety!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Thank you, John!"

    I also contacted John for his initial feedback about the initial premiere, and he wrote back, “ We had a great response on Tuesday and I was relieved to finally show a group of strangers our entire film. It’s weird how even as people continue to compliment the work I struggle with the same self doubt musicians often describe. Regardless of my inner voice I heard compliment after compliment about how impactful it was. I was particularly moved by the panel’s reaction to seeing it and how much they related to the stories we share.”  

This week’s premiere in New York City on Wednesday will feature a panel of notable music educators and thinkers including John Beder, Dr. Noa Kageyama, Gerald Klickstein, and Philadelphia Orchestra Principal French Horn, Jennifer Montone for discussion after the screening.

For more information on the documentary, including showings and bookings, visit the website www.composeddocumentary.com You can also connect with John on twitter and Facebook @composeddocumentary.

 

Tag Cloud Block
This is an example. Double-click here and select a page to create a cloud of its tags or categories. Learn more
Tag Cloud Block
This is an example. Double-click here and select a page to create a cloud of its tags or categories. Learn more

Supporting All Voices: Interview Part 1 with Dr. Anita Kozan

Dr. Anita Kozan is a Minnesota-based speech and language pathologist whose focus has been on the care of the speaking and singing voice.  She's worked with a wide range of clients, from children diagnosed with autism to older clients to transexuals.  I first heard about her work in the context of supporting the transexual voice, and I'm so thrilled that she made time to speak to me the day before she had rotator cuff surgery.  

Kayleigh: So how did you begin in speech pathology?

Anita: It’s a fascinating field, and honestly, I had never heard of it growing up.  I was from a small town where we didn’t have a speech pathologist or speech therapist in our community, but a man I had dated told me about it, saying that I liked helping people and I might like this field.  So I started taking classes as a sophomore in college, and had never ever really seen what it was until I transferred to the University of Minnesota my junior year, and I instantly thought, “Oh my gosh, I love this!”  I feel really lucky that I have found a profession that I have loved my whole career- I’m 69 and I’ve been practicing since I was 22.  Just celebrated my 47th anniversary in the field.  I’ve worked with all different ages too- never babies, but I’ve done preschool children all the way through the ages to geriatric clients who have had strokes, with an emphasis on voice, often working with people after accidents or illness.  But voice is really my favorite thing to do.  I finished my bachelors in 1969, and went back to work on my masters in 1970, finishing in 1972, and at some point in that year, I went to a regional conference where there was a speech and language pathologist working with a transexual woman, demonstrating the outcome of the work she had done with this woman.  I was fascinated and I really thought, “I want to do that- I think I can do a good job,” and that was really the beginning of looking for opportunities to learn more about the trans community.

K: That’s amazing because you figure 44 years ago, transgender sexual identity was rarely if ever talked about or discussed.

A: Yes, you’re right.  I grew up in a town where a female neighbor dressed up as a man, but I thought that was just her and never thought much about it.  I thought that was just who she was.  I don’t remember seeing anyone in school or in public who was openly trans.  So that was really the beginning in 1972- it took a while to find things and resources, but by the eighties, clients were being referred to me by their physician who were having trouble with their voices; hoarseness, etc., but the real issue was that they were transitioning and they didn’t know what to do with the changes in their voice.  People started to find me, trickling down from other sources, and because of my interests and in putting my energy out there, I continued to be sought out more and more.  It’s a difficult speciality- it’s some of the hardest work that I’ve ever done, in terms of people that I’ve worked with.  The hardest is when singers are transitioning, because I want to preserve their voice as much as possible while expanding and evolving their range.  By the 1990’s, people were being referred to me fairly frequently, it was becoming more acceptable to seek out help during transition, and insurance companies were beginning to pay for it and acknowledge the health challenges it posed.  But still, there were people who did not want to be seen, who did not want to use their insurance, did not want to be seen in a public hospital setting.  I had always had a private practice, but that was also when i began melding singing and voice exercises for those who were not singers, who were also transitioning.  I had worked for many years at Northwestern Hospital where I had a voice labarotory, and was studying people’s larynxes underendoscopic light. The Sister Kenny institute, which was part of the hospital, also had an instrumentalist clinic, and they saw a lot of people who were professionals having difficulties, and so I very much respect your interest in overuse injuries and musculoskeletal problems, especially since I got trigger finger from playing saxophone once!

Note: I had never heard of  Sister Kenny  before, and she's been really interesting to learn about.  

Note: I had never heard of Sister Kenny before, and she's been really interesting to learn about.  

K: Yes.

A: But I also wanted to tell you about some interesting research at Sister Kenny that changed the wayI work with all voices and injured voices.  Sister Kenny was an Australian nurse who pioneered rehabilitation with polio in Minnesota, and was trying to help patients recondition their muscles.  The work wasn’t highly thought of at first, but she continued on with her work, and the center continued with a rehabilitative model.  Some of the people who were involved as physicians with the clinic began to do research on people who had been diagnosed with polio as children or teenagers, and they were having a post-polio syndrome, where they began having muscle weakness long after treatment. (Note: PPS is a condition that affects polio survivors long after the initial attack of the poliomyelitis virus on the nervous system )  The physicians did a controlled study where they had people with this syndrome divide into two groups.  One group did muscle testing before they began and then they had them engage in a specific exercise for X minutes, and then tested their strength again.  The experimental group had the same testing process, but the exercise was done in an interval training model, where they did the exercise for a minute or two, then rested, and then exercised again, repeating the cycle.  What they found was that the people who exercised continuously were weaker on the post test, and that the people who did interval training, were stronger in their post test.  I used that research and applied it to two singers who both were performers with post-polio syndrome, and I used this technique as part of their healing process.  I had them working on speaking and singing using interval training models, but they both regained their abilities to sing, and one of them just had an incredible voice by the end of it.  I extrapolated from that experience and generalized the model to singers who did not have post-polio syndrome, and then generalized to singers who had injured voices, and then I applied it to people who were transgender, and in the midst of that, starting using singing voice exercises with all of my clients, irregardless of whether they were singers.  With all of those different populations, I used interval training models and singing exercises to help condition muscles that hadn't been used before or hadn't been used efficiently, especially with male to female transitions, who are learning to use a range of their voice that they’ve maybe never used.  They may have played around with falsetto or head voice, but it’s not something they’ve used regularly.  I started using really simple vocal exercises and interval training with people who were singers and who were trans, and then with people who were trans and non vocalists.  But I could see that if we wanted people to speak in a higher range, we want them to sing as well.  It’s a melding of techniques that has worked well for a variety of people.

K: Did you train yourself as singer?

This image from  www.voicedoctor.net  does an excellent job of showing the nasal pathway of studying the vocal folds.  

This image from www.voicedoctor.net does an excellent job of showing the nasal pathway of studying the vocal folds.  

A: Yes,  I have sung my whole life.  I've done some solo work, but mostly choirs, barbershop quartets, and then after high school I played in bars and bands.  I also play keyboards, and have played and sung in weddings, funerals, and churches.  I played in a rock band from 1978 to 1981, and then I realized that singers of all genres really need help in not injuring their voices.  That was the extra push in seeking out the singing voice.  By 1987, I started work on my PhD at the same time I opened the first voice laboratory in Minnesota, examining vocal cords endoscopically through the nose or through the mouth.  I've continued to sing throughout my life, but I always need a gig or concert to work towards in order to be motivated to practice.  But when I am singing, I try to do all of the things I teach my students in warming up, practice duration, and most importantly, cooling down- that’s why I had gone back to work on my dissertation.  Cooling down was mentioned in Etude magazine in the 1950’s, originally called “warming down,” but very little research had been doing on vocal cool downs.  One of my colleagues, Dr Alfred Lavarado had told me about it - he had been a speech pathologist and singer, and I was at the International Voice Symposium at Juilliard.  He had worked with singers prone to overuse on warming up and cooling down, and had helped them reduce the swelling of the vocal folds enough so that they could speak and sing, even if they had overused their voice.  My dissertation had been studying the effects of the vocal warmups on singers, but I certainly had a special interest in the “cool down” process as well..

K: You’ve already illuminated some of the crux of your dissertation work, mainly that warmups are a critical part of vocal health and maintenance, but what were some of the other aspects of the research that came up?

A: Cooling down has still not been studied within the research model that I used, but with warmups, the study was the impact on perceptual judgments of the effects of vocal warmups on the singing voice.  I had twenty year olds: ten were classical trained singers and ten had no training.  The same was true for the older age group- I had wanted post-menopausal women, and once again I had ten classical trained singers and ten non trained.  I had three different singing tasks- one was to sustain a note five steps down from the top of their range, then sing a one octave scale, and third was to sing the star spangled banner.  I had them do those tasks, and then led them through a 17 minute task, and then repeated the vocal tasks.  I took recorded samples, across the passagio, the high pitch, the one octave scale, and then one particular passage of the star spangled banner, and then randomized the tracks, and played them for vocal judges, who did not know what the focus of my research was.  Their job was instead to pick out if the before/after recordings were different, and if so, how was clarity and uniformity impacted.  Over the 40 singings, judges correctly picked out 39/40 singers- the warmed up voice vs. the unwarmed up voice, especially with the sustained high pitch.  The one singer that was indistinguishable had told me that it took her 40 minutes to warm up her voice, and between her wide vibrato and instability, I knew it wasn’t a healthy singing voice.  Of course it wasn’t my place to say that, but it was an interesting aspect of the research.  So at the time, my final vocal advisor had said that I could make a career of testing singers and conducting research- I took it as a compliment, but I knew that just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be out in the field helping people. 

K: Of course- more connection.  More importantly, you proved that warming up was such an integral part of vocal care, which has become more mainstream in vocal and choral teaching.

A: Yes- absolutely.  For now, I’m going to work for one more year, maintain a small private practice, and go from there.  I’m also interested in supporting youth, specifically homeless and LBGTQ youth, who are often homeless as a result of their identities.  An opportunity came up to be a speech a language pathologist in a high school, working with autistic and non autistic students.  I left the hospital and research environment a few years ago, even though I loved having a vocal research laboratory, but it was such an amazing opportunity to change my focus.  Being around teenagers has put me closer to youth and the singing voice. Within my client base in the last 9-10 years, over 50% have been singers, whether it was for enjoyment in private all the way up to semi professional singers.  

K: Fantastic!

*In the second part of this interview, we delve more into the care and keeping of the transitioning voice, and how the support of the trans voice has changed in the last 35 years.*

Tag Cloud Block
This is an example. Double-click here and select a page to create a cloud of its tags or categories. Learn more

Powered by Squarespace. Home background image by kayleigh miller.