VASTA 2012: A Voice for Good

Lincoln Memorial
Photo by Steve Philp

I’m off to Washington D.C tomorrow for the 2012 Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) Conference, entitled A Voice for Good, and I’m really excited. This is a conference theme that I’ve wanted the association to do for many years—so much of the work that voice trainers do, and have the potential to do, can really change lives.

Many of the presenters are very inspiring to me, so I’m excited for that reason. But there’s also the fact that I’m involved with 4 panels! I’m chairing a panel/workshop on Asian Accents on Wednesday with Erik Singer, Marina Tyndall, Jane Guyer Fujita and Steven Eng; I’m doing a presentation on Japanese, which should be easy because I just did a show featuring that accent, Arigato, Tokyo, by Daniel MacIvor at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Then I’m participating in Amy Stoller’s panel on Accent Stereotypes with such luminaries as’s Douglas N. Honorof, he of the famous Comma Gets a Cure diagnostic passage, Adrianne Moore from Utah State University, and Kim James Bey from Howard University. Hopefully I will not sound like an idiot compared to my esteemed colleagues on that one!

Then I’m representing my Graduate Program in the brown bag lunch panel on MFA programs in voice training, where David Smukler and I will plug our Voice Teacher Diploma programs up at York. We’re flying down together tomorrow morning, and we’re sitting next to each other, so we’ll get to chat about the whole thing over roasted peanuts. And we have a command performance of the Tech Panel with myself and Michael Barnes for the umpteenth time (regrettably, Phil Thompson is away this year). I think I will plug things I do with my iPad.

I’m also gotten myself involved with the Teaching Philosophy Statement support group, as I do a fair bit of review of these things with my Voice Diploma students. And I’ve been invited to a luncheon with former board members on Wednesday; I look forward to catching up with old friends and looking ahead to what lies on the horizon for the organization.

I’m very excited about lots of talks, like the Uof A’s David Ley’s talk on using personal vibrators (yes, that kind) to elicit vibrations in the larynx of people with dysphonia. Unfortunately that’s opposite the talk about the Visual Accent & Dialect Archive (VADA) that I really want to go to. I really am looking forward to singing 20th Century Political songs with Joanna Cazden on Monday evening and international songs (with easy harmony) with Judith Shahn and Claudia Anderson on Wednesday night.

So, if I don’t manage a post on Thursday for the Voiceguy, you’ll understand why! I’ll be exhausted!

Eric Armstrong is the voiceguy. Eric is a dialect, voice, speech and text coach based in Toronto, Canada, where he normally teaches full-time at York University’s Dept. of Theatre. Eric has been teaching voice for the actor full-time since 1994, and has taught in Canada and the US, at the University of Windsor, Brandeis University, Roosevelt University, Canada's National Voice Intensive and York University. He has worked for nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Crow’s Theatre, Volcano, SoulPepper, & Canadian Stage in Toronto, and The Court Theatre and Steppenwolf in Chicago. Eric holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) in Theatre Performance, and an MFA from York University (Toronto) in Acting. His mentors were David Smukler (York, Canada’s National Voice Intensive) and Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company). He has also studied at the Drama Studio, London, and Il Stage Internazzionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He’s a long time member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, where he has served on the board, as a conference planner, photo editor for the Voice and Speech Review, Founding Director of Technology and Internet Services, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, essays and reviews for the VASTA Newsletter, the VASTA Voice, and The Voice and Speech Review.