As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve been specially trained to help you rehabilitate your voice. Voice therapy is right for you if your voice is “broken”; it’s not what it used to be, or it isn’t what you want it to be. Maybe you’ve seen an ENT and they told you that you have nodules (they’re waaaay less scary than you were led to believe, I promise you). Or maybe an ENT told you they don’t see anything wrong, but you *know* something still isn’t right. Maybe your voice teacher said they’re not sure how to proceed to keep you safe, or someone recommended voice rest (the odds are very low that you need to be on *that* much voice rest, I am pretty confident). Maybe it’s that your voice tires easily, you can’t be heard in a crowd, you’re avoiding speaking situations/people/auditions, or you have some other nagging issue with your voice. Whatever the problem, I can help.
Singing Voice Rehabilitation
As a professional singer myself, I understand first hand the expectations and lifestyle of the “vocal athlete”. I empathize with the emotional toll any voice issue – no matter how big or small – can have on a singer. Whether you’re singing professionally, avocationally, or even just in the shower, if your voice is important to you, it’s important to me.
Maybe your family doc has dismissed your concerns or your voice teacher wants you to get something checked out, or your voice just hasn’t been performing the way you know it can; whatever it is, I’ll help you figure out. I can help you achieve a wide range of goals. I’ll work with you to optimize your singing voice, keep it in tip top shape, develop a specific, efficient, effective warm up, work out some of the little niggling problems you’ve been having lately, learn to take your singing training into a new gig, style, or show, and I can help take care of the big scary things for you. I can help you find more ease, range, strength, comfort, and joy in singing, and I’ll help demystify that marvelous instrument you own (but may never have laid eyes on!). As part of our work together, I’ll consider the space or setup you’re singing in, technology and sound gear, costumes or footwear, repertoire or instrumentation, rehearsal or performance, touring or long running production, technique or song style requirements – you name it, I’ll help you work with it. Whether you’re working with your teacher or on your own, I can help. I promise, if you work with me, you’ll learn to love singing even more than you do now – more than you ever thought possible.
Whatever you need, I’ll help you get it. Just ask, one singer to another.
Speaking Voice Therapy For Professional Voice Users
As a professional educator and regular workshop presenter, I can completely empathize with the demands you’re facing as a voice user. I was trained at OISE/UT as a teacher, I was Ontario College of Teachers certified, and I taught in the Toronto District, Peel, and Toronto Catholic District School Boards as an intermediate/senior music/drama/musical theatre/tech theatre/guitar/band/any-fine-art-they-could-invent teacher. I also currently hold a lecturer position at the University of Toronto where I lecture to the graduate SLP students, and I’m regularly invited to give workshops to colleagues and voice users alike. I know how hard it is to ensure your voice is in top form the way you need it to be to command attention and feel confident. And I know exactly how to ensure you get the voice you need to keep your audience engaged from the first word to the last.
I offer both preventative voice care, voice therapy, accent modification and General American/Canadian dialect coaching for a wide range of professional voice users whose livelihood depends on their voice being in optimal condition, including:
- singers and actors
- teachers and professors
- medical professionals
- business associates and marketing professionals
- call centre personnel
- …and many more!
In the meantime, contact me to make an appointment so we can make sure your voice is in the best shape possible!
Voice Therapy For Everyone!
Voice Therapy for Kids
Oh boy, being a kiddo is fun! There’s so much excitement, and so much vocalization that goes along with it! All the cheering, shouting, and yelling in sports; squealing with delight on the playground; singing in choir or in Scouts; trying to recreate the wild voices of a favourite cartoon character; or just vehemently making a point. There’s a lot to talk about! It’s no wonder that with all this squealing with delight (or the alternate-universe version, screaming in panic “S/HE TOUCHED ME!!!”), kids sometimes end up with voice problems. Hoarseness, nodules, laryngitis… it’s hard to figure out what to do about it. And from one parent to another, let’s be honest: we both know you sure as heck aren’t going to get them to quiet down any time soon. Nor should we! I believe we can let kids be kids and keep their voices healthy all the same.
Trust a voice therapist with pediatric experience and kiddos of her own with healthy sets of pipes. I’ll help you and your child take care of their voice now so they don’t have long-standing problems in the future.
Voice training, as opposed to voice therapy, might just be the thing you’re looking for! If you feel like there isn’t anything technically *wrong* with your voice, but you’re just not happy with it, voice training is right up your alley. Maybe your voice just doesn’t represent the “real you”. Or you want to apply for a position at work that requires more presentations and networking and you want to sharpen your game. Maybe you have stress, and it’s voice related, but you can’t put your finger on what it is exactly. Perhaps you have a big audition coming up, and you want to figure out why you can’t “place” the song properly. Your agent wants you to go out for a loop group, and you worry that much screaming is going to do you in. Or you want to come geek out on breath support, or Estill, or you want a companion to your Second City training class. Or perhaps you’re in a touring production of a major musical and you just want to make sure you stay in top shape. Maybe you just want to get better at karaoke, or try your hand at singing at an open mic for the first time. Or maybe you really love your voice, and you just want to love it even more! Whatever your voice question, I’m here to support you.
As a singer, a Singing Voice Specialist, and a speech-language pathologist, I’m a super voice geek! I absolutely love all things voice, and I understand how important your voice is to you, no matter how you use it. If your voice is important to you, making it the best it can be is important to me. Whatever your goals, I can help you use your voice to its full advantage!
Singing Voice Rehabilitation, Preventative Care, & Maintenance
As a professional singer myself, I understand first hand the expectations and lifestyle of the “vocal athlete”. My career has spanned a range of types of singing, across gigs like performing with Disney Cruise Line, touring with a Juno-award-winning big band, theme park productions, voiceover work, choral singing/directing/arranging, large production musicals, and much more! I empathize with the emotional toll any voice issue – no matter how big or small – can have on a singer. Whether you’re singing professionally, avocationally, or even just in the shower, if your voice is important to you, it’s important to me.
Singing should make you feel good – when your voice doesn’t do what you want it to, or what you know it can, it doesn’t feel as good as it can. I can help. Whether your family doc dismisses your concerns or your voice teacher wants you to get something checked out that you’re not sure you understand, if it’s important to you, I’ll help you figure it out. Whatever your goals, I can help you optimize your singing voice, keep it in tip top shape, work out some of the little niggling problems you’ve been having lately, or help take care of the big scary things with you. I can help you find more ease, range, strength, comfort, and joy in singing, and I’ll help demystify that marvelous instrument you own (but may never have laid eyes on!).
Whatever you need, I’ll help you get it. Just ask, one singer to another.
Voice and Communication Therapy for Clients Who Are Transgender or Gender Non Conforming
The goal of voice and communication therapy is to help you adapt your voice and communication in a way that is both safe and authentic, resulting in communication patterns that you feel are congruent with your gender identity and that reflect your sense of self. If you are interested in finding or developing your most authentic voice, and keeping your voice safe and healthy while you do, I am happy to work with you. Here is some information about my approach to voice and communication training for transgender people:
Most people want to know if I can help them find a higher or lower pitch. Therapy with me certainly can involve raising (for trans women) or lowering (trans men) the pitch of your voice, but it also often involves working on making your voice lighter (a more feminine sound) or deeper (a more masculine sound), and in all cases, more resonant and less effortful. Working on your voice doesn’t mean you have to conform to culturally-defined societal expectations of gender; these are just some of the aspects of finding a more authentic voice that many clients have expressed they want to work towards. Regardless of your personal goals or gender identity, voice therapy with me also includes working on the other aspects of communication that make the voice sound authentic with your person, such as the way you use your body when you communicate, the kinds of words and phrases you choose, and the way you express yourself as a person. As well, we will explore how you feel about your gender identity and how you would like to express that, examining together what makes the most authentic voice for you.
I typically start with an in-depth 1-hour assessment session, where I get the chance to learn more about you and your goals, which helps me design the most effective approach to voice work for each individual person. Therapy sessions are typically between 30 minutes and an hour long, and often go in blocks of a few weeks’ worth of weekly or bi-weekly sessions, followed by a break for you to work on what we have explored and learned together. This is often followed up with another block of sessions to build on what you are learning and practicing. However, the length of individual sessions and how long we work together is always determined by a combination of your goals, how your voice changes from session to session, and how much support you feel you need, and this is a conversation we will always have together. Sessions may involve speaking, listening, writing, thinking, expressing, and reflecting on your work with your new voice, and they always involve practicing what you are learning and evaluating how you are feeling about your voice.
I am proud of my connection to the LGBT+ community, and I maintain relationships with a variety of people, care providers, and resources that partner wonderfully with the work you’re doing on your voice. I’m also proud of my efforts to stay on top of the current best practices in voice therapy and in particular, in transgender voice and communication work. I’ve taken a ton of supplemental training in this area, and I often present workshops and mentor SLPs who are new to transgender voice and communication training because I firmly believe we need more competent, confident, caring clinicians in this area, and I’m more than happy to help us all get there together.
Toronto is a wonderfully diverse city full of different cultures, languages, and cuisines. You’ll hear many different accents and dialects of English here, and they are an important part of many people’s identities – it tells a story about who you are, and where you come from. An accent is a wonderful thing!
For some people though, an accent can sometimes be a barrier to full participation. I grew up in Nova Scotia, and I had a darling regional accent that marked me as a friendly, approachable, East Coaster when I moved away. I loved it. But when I landed a coveted job with Disney as an entertainer, I needed to figure out how to sound less Canadian for the role, particularly to guests who preferred the comforting sounds of the “TV American” accent. I put in a lot of time and effort to try and bend my own accent towards what my directors were asking for, and now, you’d be hard pressed to guess where I’m from. I also worked alongside a crew from over 65 countries from around the world, and I loved the diversity amongst us, including the beautiful ways they all spoke the common language of the Disney holiday traveler: English. And thus began my love of accents and dialects; how we learn them, love them, play with them, and change them depending on our needs and other influences in our lives.
Accent modification isn’t technically “speech therapy”, because an accent or a dialect isn’t a disorder. However, like in my experience, there are a variety of reasons people decide they would like to modify their accent. You might feel you aren’t understood as clearly as you’d like at times, you may want to audition for a role that requires a General American accent, or you may want to be able to “code switch” and speak with an accent that feels more comfortable for you in a given environment. By assessing stress, intonation, speech sounds, and grammar/syntax, we can look at how you’re currently speaking English, and identify ways you can modify these features to align with your personal speech goals. I’m not asking you to change your accent or give up your dialect. But I’m here to help if you want to modify the way you speak English to achieve a personal goal – one that you decide, and only if you reach out to me. Whatever your goals, I can help you shape the way you speak English so that you feel your most confident in any situation. And for anyone who chooses not to change their accent at all, I celebrate you – it’s a wonderful part of who you are!
Public Speaking, Corporate Communication, Speaking With Confidence
The number one fear in the world isn’t death, it’s public speaking! Your hands are clammy, your heart is racing, your mouth is so dry, you’re sweating profusely, and you have the shakes. Suddenly, the brilliant message you worked so hard to prepare is coming out sounding like you just crossed a road race finish line. You feel like Winona Ryder in Stranger Things. You’re terrified you sound like the pimply-faced kid from the Simpsons. And none of that is at all what you pictured in your mind when you were rehearsing your words at home.
Or maybe it’s just that you can’t seem to catch a break at work. You have great ideas, but someone else always manages to find a way to pitch them better and spin them like their own. You’re not getting the credit you deserve, and the job you really want feels just out of reach.
Maybe you feel like your speaking voice lacks authority, confidence, or conviction. Instead of sounding like an expert your listeners can trust, you leave your audience with more questions than answers. You long for a warm, resonant, captivating voice but you chalk it up to what you’ve been given and find yourself avoiding roles that require commanding leadership, when you know you’re up for the task.
You’d be amazed at what we can do together to give you the voice that serves you best. Whether you want to kick stage fright to the curb, keep your audience engaged from start to finish, or build trust and rapport and instil confidence in your listeners, I can help you create the voice you’ve always dreamed of having.
So here’s something you might not know. I’m not just a speech pathologist (SLP), but I’m also a Singing Voice Specialist (SVS). What the heck is the difference?!
The Voice Foundation has a great document describing what an SVS is here.
If you don’t have time to read the entire thing, here’s my favourite bit from the Voice Foundation’s description of an SVS, because I think it perfectly describes how I use these two designations in my work:
“A few of the best singing voice specialists are ALSO certified, licensed speech-language pathologists. This combination is optimal, provided the speech-language pathologist has sufficient experience and training not only as a performing artist, but also as a teacher of singing.”
The Voice Foundation nicely describes an SVS as a separate classification of singing voice teacher that, when paired with SLP training, is an optimal combination of skills. And I’ve got all the boxes ticked:
- I’ve been a professional singer with Disney, Paramount, Universal Records, and many others; my first pro gig was in 1990!
- I’ve been a voice teacher – privately for over 25 years, in voice/music studios, at Concordia University, in music camps like National Music Camp and Acadia Summer Bandstand, and as an Ontario College of Teachers certified teacher where I taught high school voice in music, drama, and music theatre at schools (including the audition-only Etobicoke School of the Arts); my first teaching gig was in 1993!
- I also have a degree in voice performance (BFA) and one in voice pedagogy (BEd), as well as the requisite extra training in anatomy/physiology of voice and training in rehabilitating injured voices (both that go well beyond the SLP program).
- I also have an in-depth knowledge of laryngology and medication as it applies to voice, and I have worked as part of a voice care team with a laryngologist daily, and in my current practice, I collaborate with laryngologists and use my skills as both an SLP and SVS jointly in rehabilitating professional voice users.
Basically, as a singing voice teacher, I am an SVS. And as such, it is a wonderfully complementary skill set that enhances my work as an SLP. It means that as a voice teacher, I have a skill set that is unique – if you’re looking to take singing lessons with someone who is also competent and confident with voices that need a little extra TLC, I’m your girl.
Contact me at email@example.com; I’d absolutely love to know how I can help you find your best voice.
I am happy to lend my experience, knowledge, and training as needed. A consult with me could be helpful if you are:
- a doctor who has a report from an ENT that says “voice/speech therapy recommended” and you want to know where to send your patient (secret tip: it doesn’t have to be me! But I’ll give you great patient-centred options).
- a singing teacher who isn’t sure what to do with a singer who’s been told to go on voice rest, especially if you aren’t sure that’s either necessary or possible.
- a call centre manager and you want to know how to keep your staff from blowing out their voices and being off for days at a time.
- a fellow SLP who doesn’t see voice regularly and you aren’t sure about next steps with a voice patient of your own.
- a principal who needs more information on portable voice amplification systems to support a teacher on staff.
- a voice user who isn’t sure what the next best steps are, whether voice therapy is right for you, or how to understand/what to do next with the information you have.
Whatever your voice-related question, I will bring my experience, knowledge, and training to your aid! Beyond just a phone conversation, consults could also include inviting me to come and sit in on a voice lesson, asking me to review a report and make recommendations or help explain results and next steps, or having a short FaceTime call to get clarification on something you’re working on. Whatever you need, I’ll find a way to make a consult work for you. If you are someone who is looking for the most up-to-date, evidence-based information on how to address, manage, or handle a voice situation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about rates and services.
I regularly offer training opportunities to:
- SLPs who are interested in taking on voice clients or clients who are transgender, working with singers, or who want to get more in-depth training in voice therapy
- voice teachers interested in learning more about working with injured voices
- voice users at their workplace to help keep everyone’s voice comfortable and confident on the job
If you’re looking for training in voice rehabilitation or habilitation, I have two options:
if I’m not offering a seminar but you really need to connect and figure out next steps, or if you want individualized training tailored to you personally, or you’re looking for mentorship, you can book One-on-One Training with me. Contact me at email@example.com to find out more about availability and rates.
I regularly give workshops on all kinds of voice-related topics, including (but absolutely not limited to):
- stage fright
- breath support
- voice hygiene
- singing voice care
- when to recommend (or be on) voice rest
- transgender and gender spectrum voice and communication training
- vocal warm ups
- classroom teacher voice care voice teacher training for working with injured voices
- professional communication and public speaking voice therapy for SLPs who don’t regularly do voice therapy – both pediatric and adult
- advanced voice therapy for SLPs who *do* work in voice therapy – both pediatric and adult
- expert panels
- functional therapeutic protocols for ENTs to better understand how we can work together
- workplace voice management (e.g., Toronto International Film Festival staff voice support)
- call centre voice care and training
- medical professional communication
- …and more!
Here is a selection of some of the workshops I've given in the past:
- "All Our Voices: An Interactive Day of Voice Topics for Speech-Language Pathologists" coordinator and moderator (OSLA, Toronto ON, June 7 2019)
- "Top Ten Resources" (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 2019)
- "Hands On: Perceptual Voice Evaluation" (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 2019)
- "Expert Panel" with Gwen Merrick, Marta DeLuca, Natalia Evans, Laurie Russell & Dr Jun Lin (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 7 2019)
- "Pediatric Voice Therapy" (All About Communication, Durham ON, October 2018)
- "Vocal Health for Singers" (Brandon Brophy's Singer's Edge Voice Studio, Toronto ON, August 2018)
- "Singers' Voice Care" (World Voice Day, Melanie Tapson Voice Care, Toronto ON, April 2018)
- "PAVA Symposium & St Mike's Voice Course" (Pan American Vocology Association, Toronto ON, October 20 & 21, 2017)
- "St Mike's Voice Course" (St Michael's Hospital Voice Clinic with Mt Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto, Toronto ON, October 21 2017)
- "Art, Meet Science: the relationship between SLP and voice teacher" (Vocology In Practice, online, July 15 2017)
- "Vocal Health for Singers: Maximize Efficiency, Minimize Damage" (Vocology In Practice, online, July 15 2017)
- "The Starving Artist Vocal Workshop" - all proceeds went to the Regent Park School of Music (Ryan Luchuck Voice and Artist Development, Toronto ON, June 25 2017)
- “Transgender Singing Voice: Considerations for the Voice Teacher” (Vocology in Practice, webinar to international audience, March 2017)
- “The Diaphragm Demystified: Breath Support for Artists.” (Performing Arts Medicine Association regional conference, University of Toronto, Toronto ON, February 2017)
- “The Singer's Voice Care Team.” (The Ultimate Day of Voice, Ryan Luchuck Voice and Artist Development, Toronto ON, November 2017)
- “Essentials of Performing Arts Medicine: Posture, physical condition, and demands of vocalists - singers and actors.” with Dr Lucinda Halstead, ENT (Performing Arts Medicine Association annual conference, New York City NY, July 2016)
- “Transgender Voice Therapy - Considerations for the SLP” (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 2016)
- "Circumlaryngeal Manipulation: Assessment, Reposturing, Massage" (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 2016) "Expert Panel" (OSLA Voice Conference, Toronto ON, June 2016)
- "Expert Panel, The Acappella Workshop with Cadence" (Ryan Luchuck Voice and Artist Development, Toronto ON, May 29 2016)
- “Singers’ Voice Care: Collegiate Acappella Singers.” (SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, Toronto ON, May 2016)
- "Expert Panel: Toronto Voice Conference" (Ryan Luchuck Voice & Artist Development & Brandon Brophy, Singer's Edge with Dr Ingo Titze, Toronto ON, November 2015)
- "Singers' Voice Care." with Dr Brian Hands, ENT (SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, Toronto ON May 2015)
- “Voice Therapy 101.” (1 to 1 Rehab, Toronto ON, December 2014)
- "Meritorious Poster Award - Does Head Angle Impact Measures of Hyoid Excursion in Swallowing?" (ASHA Convention, Orlando FL, November 2014)
- “Holistic voice care for singers: from prehab to rehab.” (SING! Festival, Toronto ON, May 2014)
- “Normal Swallowing Physiology: establishing the reference perspective for swallowing assessment.” with Dr. Catriona Steele, SLP & Shauna Stokely, SLP (CASLPA national conference, Ottawa ON, May 2014)
- “Finding Your Best Voice and Making An Impact.” (Canadian Water Network “Pass the Mic” Workshop, Vancouver BC, Jan 2014)
- “The Normalized Residue Rating Scale: a quantitative approach to helping clinicians make accurate measurements.” (Toronto Rehab Research Day, Toronto ON, November 2013)
- “Effective communication: how to become an engaging presenter.” (Canadian Water Network Graduate Students and Young Professionals, Halifax NS, April 2013)
- “Breathing, speaking and singing: learning to relax and free your voice.” (8th anniversary meeting, Halifax Support Group for People Who Stutter, Halifax NS, 2012)
To find out about current workshops or to learn more about creating a lecture or workshop specific to your voice needs, contact me.
I also lecture at the university level in both undergraduate and graduate courses, in public and private high schools, for teachers and students, in drama and music, for singers and voice professionals, in SLP and singing programs, and more! Here is a selection of some of the lectures I've taught:
- University of Toronto, Department of Speech Language Pathology (MHSc SLP) SLP1502Y Anatomy and Embryology (course instructor Dr Catriona Steele) - The Larynx Structure and Function SLP1527S Clinical Analysis of Communication & Swallowing Disorders (course instructor Dr. Luigi Girolametto, Dr Elizabeth Rochon, Lynn Ellwood) - Dysphagia Case Study
- Glenn Gould School - Royal Conservatory of Music Performance Awareness (instructor Stephen Sitarski)
- University of Toronto – Scarborough, Department of Linguistics SLP PLIC54H3 Speech Pathology and Speech Disorders in Children and Adults (instructor Aravind Namasivayam) - sEMG and IOPI labs
- Dalhousie University, School of Human Communication Disorders (MSc SLP) HUCD 5050 Speech Science (course instructor Michael Kiefte) - including cadaver labs
- Concordia University, Department of Theatre / Department of Music INMS 498Z: Special Topics, Into the Woods - Vocal Coach and Assistant Music Director