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World Voice Day 2011
Artistic Services Department
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Original Content4/4/2011

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Saturday, April 16 marks World Voice Day 2011, an international observance meant to celebrate the human voice and raise public awareness of the need for preventative care.

As many of us in the opera field focus on the training of the singing voice, we are keenly aware that care of the voice extends beyond the practice room and performance stage. Maintaining one’s singing instrument involves a thorough understanding and consideration of the effects of diet, exercise, climate and sleep on the body and voice — all of which are variable and unique to each individual. While opera professionals are hyper-aware of their vocal health, voice care professionals such as ear, nose and throat specialists treat a number of patients who develop permanent vocal damage that could have been avoided with proper preventative care. As a result, medical professionals instituted World Voice Day as both a celebration of the human vocal folds and an effort to raise awareness of the vital role the voice plays in education, social interaction and careers in politics, business and performance, to name a few.

What began as Brazilian Voice Day in 1999, established by a concerned group of Brazilian ENTs, has developed into a worldwide celebration of the human voice. The expansion was made possible through collaboration between voice care professionals from the Speech, Voice and Swallowing Disorders Committee from the Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery [] and their colleagues in Brazil and Europe. On their website, you can find a list of vocal warm-ups [] such as breathing exercises, humming and lip trills. Each warm-up includes a short video demonstration. While these exercises are rudimentary, they are a good reminder that preparing the voice for a day of work can be a part of any person’s morning routine. Hum a catchy tune in the shower, practice breathing exercises during your daily commute or trill your lips with a passing siren. These warm-ups are a handy reminder that anyone and everyone can easily practice good vocal health.

Richard Dale Sjoerdsma, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Singing, the official journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc., notes that “[World Voice Day] is widely celebrated, but, lamentably, principally within the medical and speech-language communities.” Sjoerdsma goes on to suggest that singers and teachers alike should embrace this day as a time to celebrate the beauty of the human voice, as well as promote public appreciation, awareness and practices of good vocal health. While working in opera, be it on the performance, administrative or technical/production end, allows us to constantly appreciate the beauty and power of the singing voice, we are still prone to neglect the daily care of our own voices. World Voice Day is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the importance of the voice in your daily life and celebrate the beauty of these two vibrating folds.

Not sure how can you to join the celebration of the human voice? Not to worry, OPERA America has compiled a list of events across the United States that have been planned in coordination with World Voice Day 2011! The following list highlights only a handful of events planned; if you can’t find something geographically convenient, considering planning your own celebration!

  • New York, NY: Body Issues/Somatic Solutions: Tools for the Singing Studio [] is a workshop hosted by the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Experts from a variety of physical training techniques including Alexander Technique, Body Mapping, Feldenkrais and Yoga, will discuss the importance of maintaining overall physical health in relationship to the voice. Held at CAP21 Studios, the workshop is free to NATS-NYC members, $10 for students with a valid ID, $25 for all others (includes a complimentary membership to NATS-NYC through October 2011).

  • New York, NY: The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary [] will be offering free voice screenings from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for professional singers who would otherwise be unable to afford such consultations. Specialists will assess current vocal health, potential risk for injury and recommend techniques for continued or improved vocal health. To participate, singers must be pre-qualified by MusiCares [] for financial eligibility. To learn more, click here [].

  • Detroit, MI: The Henry Ford Medical Center for the Performing Artist will hold “The Human Voice — A Celebration of Sound [],” a concert featuring jazz, rock, opera and choral music. This unique organization has worked with individuals throughout Michigan to diagnose and treat health problems specific to those working as performing artists. The event is FREE and open to the public.

  • Raleigh, NC: The Duke Voice Care Center at Duke University will offer a full day [] of events on Saturday, April 16 from 11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sessions will inform attendees about care of the singing voice, occupational voice and discuss common vocal problems. The Voice Care Center and Duke Department of Music will partner on Friday, April 15 to present a Master Class with Simon Estes, renowned bass-baritone. Estes will also speak at Saturday’s events.

  • Mason, OH: UC Health Voice and Swallowing Center and the UC Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery presents a day-long educational event [] for singers, actors, teachers and anyone else interested in learning about vocal disorders. In addition, an exhibitor booth provides the opportunity for a free voice screening and one-on-one interaction with voice care professionals.

  • International: Events have also been planned at the American Hospital Dubai [] and the Lemon Tree Studio [] in Aberdeen, Scotland.

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