Certified Vocologist Brings New Teaching and Research Opportunities to Baylor’s Theater Arts Programs | Media and public relations

Media contact: Eric Eckert, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-1964
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by Lexi Nitishin, Student News Editor, Baylor University Media and Public Relations

WACO, Texas (October 26, 2021) – Baylor University is now home to one of the few undergraduate theater programs whose faculty includes a board-certified vocologist. This certification brings a new level of educational rigor and professional preparation to Baylor students. Department of Theater Arts.

Vocology is the study of the voice and focuses on the science and practice of vocal empowerment. It is a complex area of ​​study that merges medical science and voice art practices, as well as pedagogy. With approximately 20 people certified each year, there are a limited number of vocologists in the world.

Lauren M. Weber, MFA, Lecturer in Music Theater at Baylor, is a voice specialist specializing in contemporary commercial music and functional voice training. Her area of ​​expertise is musical theatre, with an emphasis on the singing voice and related research in vocal health, function and pedagogy. She earned her vocology certificate from the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) at the University of Utah, which is the only institution to offer a formal vocology program.

“It is a significant benefit for the Department of Theater Arts to have a qualified NCVS-certified vocologist who teaches musical theater voice,” said DeAnna Toten Beard, Ph.D., professor of theater history. and chairman of the Department of Theater Arts.

“Professor Weber’s expertise means that our students are trained in healthy and sustainable practices for a long career in vocal performance. His ability to offer such specialized knowledge in the combined work of voice pedagogy, voice performance and voice science could benefit not only singers but also preachers, lawyers, teachers and others who make their living through to powerful speech,” Toten Beard said.

“Evidence-based, science-informed teaching”

Weber took three summers of rigorous coursework to complete her certification, which prepared her for further in-depth research and teaching in the field of voice science.

“I work with students in the drama department to sing healthily in different styles,” Weber said. “I believe that everyone deserves evidence-based, science-based education and that all singing styles should be included and celebrated in this endeavor.”

Although the number of vocologists is limited, the need and demand for these skilled professionals continues to grow. Across the United States, singers seek out these highly skilled people to help them rehabilitate or improve their voice.

Research Opportunities in Vocology

Weber said she uses the expertise gained during her certification to work on interdisciplinary research with Kimberly Monzón, Ph.D., assistant professor of voice, as well as LesLee Funderburk, Ph.D., assistant professor of science. of Nutrition, and Brittany Perrine, Ph.D., Lecturer in Communication Science and Disorders. This research group received a grant from the Baylor University Research Committee (URC) to study the effect of omega-3s on the voice and is currently seeking outside funding.

During the fall 2020 semester, they began a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the possible effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the voice.

After Monzón received the Baylor URC Fellowship, they began a second omega-3 study in the spring semester of 2021. The goal of the second omega-3 study was to determine whether using a supplement of omega-3s in combination with a singer’s normal training regimen improved vocal training adaptations and impacted body composition in young students enrolled in applied vocal instruction.

Seeking external grants supports Baylor’s aspirations as a Research-1 university, Weber said. If they receive this funding, they will expand the omega-3 study to focus on professional voice users and add other explorations to the protocol, such as laryngoscopy and blood draws to examine inflammatory markers. in conjunction with the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at Baylor.

In addition to this research group, Weber and two of his colleagues, Monzón and Perrine, have also initiated a longitudinal study of voice lessons on voice range profile, which began in fall 2021, and will continue to collect data for at least four years.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for over 20,000 students by combining interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Established in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continuously operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a wide range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

The College of Arts & Sciences is the largest academic division of Baylor University, consisting of 25 academic departments in the sciences, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences, as well as 10 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught at the College cover subjects ranging from art and theater to religion, philosophy, sociology and natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research at the undergraduate and graduate level is widespread across all disciplines. Visit baylor.edu/artsandsciences.

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