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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

Meet the Editors — Part Two!

Hello, Readers! If you haven’t had a chance to read our last post yet, make sure you do that before diving into this post. As we begin to experiment with the format and mission of the KTS Blog, we’ve been asking each other questions, about the work and our relationship with it. Our post last time prompted some responses that got us all sorts of curious, and we couldn’t just let those responses stand uninterrogated. So we share with you this week our responses — and our responses to our responses — to some of our initial lines of inquiry. […]

Meet the Editors — Part One!

Hello, Readers! It’s a new year, and the Knight-Thompson Speechwork Blog is getting some updates as well! Certified Teachers Jeremy Sortore and Tyler Seiple have stepped up to become Co-Editors of the KTS Blog. We’re excited to mobilize this forum to build stronger connections within the KTS community while also reaching out to performers, teachers, and speech enthusiasts in the world at large. You can find our bios on the “Teachers” page (soon), but we wanted to introduce ourselves a bit more informally in this, our first joint post. We asked each other some questions, probing at the nature of […]

Skeptical Face

  This article showed up in the Vasta’s Voices Facebook group, and I’ve been ruminating over how (or whether) I should respond to it.  I mean, it’s just a fluffy little article for people to toss back and forth on Facebook. I really shouldn’t get worked up about it. But I am. I’m a little worked up.  And as I re-read the article I realized that it isn’t just the usual imprecision, and sensationalism that bothers me –the title of the blog where this story appears is “Facts So Romantic” so I shouldn’t be surprised    — What really turns my […]

Why the Detail Model Had to Go

(Roots, part III) The teaching of any prescriptive speech pattern as some sort of basis or ‘neutral’ will inevitably encode privilege and elitism, alienate actors from nonstandard speech backgrounds, and actively impede the acquisition of accurate and detailed perception and the ability to subtly adapt one’s own speech and accent.     It’s been a ridiculous fourteen months since I last posted. Even worse, at the end of that post, I teased the next part of the story, promising to write soon about Why the Detail Model Had to Go. Better late than never, I suppose. This is that post. […]

Oh, those wandering GOATs

I think it’s high time we stopped representing the So-Called General American GOAT phoneme as /oʊ̯/.  I don’t think it can be very controversial to suggest that [oʊ̯], phonetically-speaking, would be a very unusual vowel to hear from most American speakers in 2012.  The only Americans who come close to a fully-rounded [o] in realizing this phoneme are from what dialectologists call the North Central dialect region—the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan’s UP, and parts of Wisconsin, Montana & Iowa.  (We might also add Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley, where Sarah Palin hails from—much of which was settled in the 1930s by transplants from […]

CERTIFICATION CLASS of 2012

Today we celebrate the hardy souls that have completed the first-ever Knight-Thompson Speechwork Certification Course. Those of you who have done a six-day workshop can, perhaps,  imagine the kind of focus and stamina it took to keep at it for three weeks. Please join us in congratulating them on their hard work! Dudley & Phil Andrea Caban  Now based in Southern California, Andrea is an actor, writer, producer, private voice and speech coach, and a New York Innovative Theatre award-winning solo artist. She has performed her solos shows regionally and abroad (at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Intimate Theater in Cape Town, […]

CERTIFICATION!!

This is just a short post to say ‘Welcome!” to our first-ever certification group. It was fourteen years ago that I joined the first Fitzmaurice Voicework Certification class. It seems impossibly long ago, and yet I remember the people, and the feeling of palpable anticipation so vividly. Dudley taught the Speech sequence and introduced the idea of Omnish in what must have been one of its earliest iterations. I completely misunderstood the assignment, and went home and wrote out in detailed phonetic transcription my Omnish oration. Fortunately, I quickly realized that I had made a misstep and quietly shoved my […]

Where to start?

Stephanie Philo as Titus Andronicus – 2008       photo by Paul Kennedy “What fool hath added water to the sea?” -Titus Andronicus The prospect of launching a blog, of adding a few drops of virtual ink to the ocean of words, is daunting.There are wonderful blogs about speech and phonetics, about accents, and acting, and a whole range of interesting topics, outside of this narrow range of specialization. So why would Dudley and I want to put our oar in? It is true that both of us have been known to have opinions, and we hope to use […]