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Working Together with Voice

Sunday 19th November, RSAMD, Glasgow


British Voice Association event report – by Linda Hutchison

The BVA study day, organised and held in Scotland on 19th November was an excellent showcase, once more, of the multidisciplinary strength of our association. Moira Little had, for the third year running, put together a splendid day of presentations, workshops and panel sessions. The only small complaint – which is often heard at conferences and study days and arises from the wish to give lots of choice – is that one has to choose from a selection of workshops rather than being able to go to all on offer. I have to admit I cheated slightly on this occasion and went to half of each of the two afternoon workshops. I was glad I did, otherwise I would have missed out on Catherine Owen's fascinating and enjoyable exercise in which we had to measure our personal space by stretching through it and humming all the while. I have done similar exercises in the past, but never been required/encouraged to be quite so thorough! This was part of the 'Teaching the Teachers' workshop led by Catherine and Moira Little.

Voice teacher Ros Steen's workshop 'Energies of the Voice' introduced us to voice work which is drawn from actor Roy Hart (1926-1975), singing teacher Alfred Wolfsohn (1896-1962) and the Roy Hart Theatre (1969-1989). (You can find information on the internet).

As I understood it, it works on the premise that all voices have four energies, two male and two female. The young female student was given a fairly lengthy and intense warm-up session for the breath; it involved her being massaged and pummelled as she lay face down on the floor! (I'm not sure how comfortably the full-on physical contact actors deal with in training would transfer to our other voice disciplines). After slowly coming to an upright position, the student worked, with piano, on sung vocal exercises to find the various vibrations of the different voice qualities. She was encouraged to send the energy forward, coming through the specific energy area – stomach, chest or head. Finally we heard the four voice energies demonstrated in lines from Shakespeare. The result was certainly very impressive.

And so the day had produced for me a totally new experience, which, considering the number of conferences and study days I have attended over the decades, was truly delightful. Thank you, Scotland.


British Voice Association event report – by Lesley I. Thomson, Speech & Language Therapist

I attended the BVA Study Day entitled 'Working Together with Voice' at the RSAMD in Glasgow on Sunday 19th November. The day started with a very interesting and informative talk on 'Vocal Rehabilitation - An SLT approach', by Myra Lockhart, Head of Speech & Language Therapy at Wishaw General Hospital. She talked us through the process of voice therapy for a voice disordered patient from referral to discharge, expanding on the various steps along the way, e.g. laryngeal examination, case history, patient's perception, observation of the patient, palpation and perceptual evaluation. On completion of treatment, Myra particularly stressed the importance of self-maintenance in that she encourages each patient to become his or her own voice therapist.

Next, we had a talk from Vincent Deary, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist who is an MRC Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle investigating the role of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Medically unexplained Dysphonia. This proved to be a fascinating subject and an area in which I am particularly interested. Vincent explained that CBT takes a holistic approach with these patients and that most patients respond well to it. He highlighted the fact that voice therapy alone has only a modest impact on voice and does not address the issue of "distress". It was suggested that it might be helpful to include training in this area for speech & language therapy students/therapists.

We then had a choice of Workshops and I chose to attend 'Energies of the Voice' led by Ros Steen who is a lecturer in voice studies at RSAMD. She took us through a practical exploration of the voice and its source in the body. She was ably assisted by one of the 3rd year students from the Academy on whom she demonstrated her techniques. There was some audience participation as well which was both fun and thought provoking.

Following lunch, we were again given a choice of Workshops and I went to Pat MacMahon's talk on 'The Awareness of Sensory Perception' in which she demonstrated her skills as a singing teacher and with the assistance of a student opera singer, showed how she can help tap the inner feelings and sensations of a singer. This contributes to the development of the singer and prepares them for their role as a performer.

All in all it was a most enjoyable and constructive day and Myra encapsulated the mood of the audience when she said: "We are all saying the same thing but in a different language".



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