For the sake of voice: MU symposium focuses on vocal health

Sunday, September 15, 2013 | 7:26 p.m. CDT; updated 6:42 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 17, 2013
MU speech pathologist Laura Powell, right, and sister Kim Foley, a music educator in Mexico, Mo., demonstrate a vocal exercise during the MU Voice Symposium on Saturday at the Missouri Theater.

COLUMBIA — The audience laughs as Steven Tharp, a voice professor at MU, animates the stage of the Missouri Theatre with song.

The subject of his humorous singing was the human voice.

"I'm tone deaf; music means nothing to me," Tharp sings. "It's only the way my accompanist plays that makes it appear I'm in key."

Tharp was one of the many professors, professionals and students who came together Saturday to explain the importance of maintaining a healthy voice at the second annual MU Voice Symposium and Vocal Arts Festival.

The day was filled with lectures and performances ranging from singing to mock therapy sessions.

Shortly after Tharp's performance, MU speech pathologist Laura Powell took the stage with her sister Kim Foley.

Powell gave Foley a mock therapy session on how to keep a healthy voice.

"Drinking water is really helpful, because it helps keep your vocal cords very lubricated so they can move," Powell said.

Foley, a music educator in Mexico, Mo., explained to the audience that in order to talk over more than 60 students, she must drink lots of water throughout the day, since she relies on her voice to keep control over her students.

As the symposium was about to break for lunch, an array of students filled the stage to sing opera. Many MU students performed throughout the symposium.

One of them, senior Anna Bridgman, said she got involved in the symposium to help showcase what it takes to have a healthy voice.

"It's really important to learn how to healthily use your voice early, because you use it so much and you don't want to lose it later in life," Bridgman said.

Supervising editor is Roxana Pop.

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