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.