The self-help books are right when it comes to the importance of retreat. Retreat, though, isn't always only about getting away from everything, in fact, a working retreat can be an incredible way to reengage with creative energy and remember why we care about what can so easily become the daily grind. Laurel and I spent four days in Vermont recently, the fall colors in full regalia and the first breath of winter awakening memories and hope for a new season. It's an important time for us, and for VoiceScienceWorks. Still in its infancy, we are excited about everything this project can mean for us and the voice world. If we are successful, we hope to provide a venue for people to engage with and share transformative information about how the voice, and the ways we use it and teach habilitation. Our retreat gave us a chance to work through some challenges we've been working with, to create vision for the future, and to spend some time singing and writing music, another of our creative passions.
October 9-11, the first annual PAVA: Pan American Vocology Association Symposium gathered in Greensboro, North Carolina. Convening with your tribe, chewing over abstract, technical, and application questions with people that understand you, hearing brand new ideas about topics that matter most to you, and sharing free time with people who are changing the world that you live in: these are the reasons that professional conferences are so powerful, yet, the first annual PAVA conference stands out beyond the normal professional convention as something extra special. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that casual after-dinner conversations about tracking H6 with F3, debating a new conception of “vowel”, or hearing the top voice scientist in the world scream like a chimpanzee didn’t leave the most delightful traces on my memory, but even these moments were overshadowed by a magic (to use science terminology) energy in the air.
To begin, this is the first time that hundreds of people from different vocal disciplines have gathered in the US for the express purpose of sharing their experience of why the science of the voice matters so much. Everyone was passionate. They have all struggled with the same challenges based on their belief that the voice is critical to all people, that we have the scientific knowledge to help people communicate better and more healthily, and that these principals are undervalued in almost every community.
Every type of vocal professional (laryngologists, speech language pathologists, research scientists, voice teachers, theater coaches, performers, choral directors, etc.) were present. This combination of disciplines illuminated a central theme of the weekend: there is too much knowledge about the voice for any one person to have deep access to all of it, so we all integrally need one another.
At its core, I think this is what made the weekend so valuable. We were sharing, listening, and learning first. Few people had the networking bug, nor were we comparing ourselves to one another. Rather, we respected and valued the work of each individual as something that could help us further our efforts, and we loved it
The biggest questions of the weekend surrounded how we were going to help to ensure that the gains made through vocology over the last few decades became more commonplace. As we chewed on these questions, we were treated to a wave of new research, creative ideas, and paradigm-changing inspiration. I realized that all of what Laurel and I have been working for in our own professional lives had found a home, and a place from where they could thrive even as we help to feed the efforts of others. Most importantly, however, we resonated with the idea that the voice matters, not just for people with specific knowledge, but for all; which means that we who have studied new principals have the charge to build a bigger table such that we can all enjoy these wonderful fruits. What a glorious challenge.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.