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Summer Vocology Institute Celebrates 20 Years of Vocology Education

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Summer Vocology Institute Wraps Up Year 20

At the Utah Center for Vocology, the day-to-day is focused on working with research subjects, running samples in our physical and computer models, and publishing research publications. We collaborate with many partners across the campus, between the Music and Theater departments within the College of Fine Arts, the Department of Surgery, Communication and Speech Disorders, Voice Disorders Center clinic in Research Park, or with research partners across the country. But every summer, the attention shifts to the future, to educating eager students in the growing field of vocology.

Vocology, science and practice of voice habilitation, is relatively new field as far as scientific areas are concerned. The term itself was coined by UCV’s very own Senior Scientist, Ingo Titze during a conversation with a physician colleague in the early 1980's. Topics within the curriculum of vocology studies are both broad and deep, ranging from physics and biomechanics, instrumentation tools for voice analysis, gender-affirming therapy and working with transitioning voices in voice studios, to understanding how to work with singers of all styles of musical performance or cultural backgrounds as well as understanding the unique needs of actors and other professional voice users. Additionally, neuroscience, and how it plays a factor in vocalization as well as impacting performance for voice users is also explored in SVI's curriculum. The content is a heavy lift for even the most science-savvy minds and many students see their completion of the program as a true pinnacle of their academic achievements.

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SVI has been held every summer since 2000, with only two exceptions: our relocation year from Denver to Salt Lake City in 2009 and in 2020, due to the COVID pandemic. With the first courses offered at University of Iowa, SVI as a summer institute really came to form when Dr. Titze was collaborating with Denver Center for the Performing Arts, University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Utah through his organization, the National Center for Voice and Speech. In 2009, NCVS and the SVI program officially moved to the University of Utah and SVI is now managed within the Utah Center for Vocology. Nearly 400 graduates from all over the world have completed the demanding coursework over the two month summer institute.



Being on the campus of University of Utah and the wonderful resources it offers is a great opportunity for our students. Many students have long since graduated from formal degree programs, and have been without access to the research and publication access that a major Research 1 university can provide. The Marriott Library provides that access for these visiting scholars while they are on campus.

The outstanding medical, biomedical and engineering departments as well as the communications disorders and voice disorders clinics on our campus also provide great hands-on opportunities for the students. A dissection lab, cadaver lab, and visit to the VAST LAb in Research Park connect our students with the outstanding science taking place across our campus.

The natural resources of the Wasatch Front also do not disappoint our participants. Since becoming part of the University of Utah about 10 years ago, the Summer Vocology Institute students have benefited from study breaks in the great outdoors. Hiking opportunities abound and Dr. Titze is proud to still be climbing Ensign Peak with the students at our welcome potluck dinner event. 

This year, students traveled to Timpanogos cave with a car tour of the Alpine Loop scenic byway, helping those on campus without access to cars an opportunity to get up in to the mountain air and explore some of the most scenic areas of our state. These adventures also help build bonds between colleagues outside of the classroom and add great value to students' experience at SVI.

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With the training they receive and relationships built at SVI with faculty and colleagues, graduates move on to successful careers in speech pathology, voice research, vocal pedagogy, and performance instruction and coaching. Our graduates have helped build the next generation of vocology knowledge and education at the world’s leading institutions, they teach students at university music and theater programs, and they treat patients at clinics in our community, helping them rehabilitate and train their voices.

It is an important feature of the Summer Vocology Institute that the majority of its faculty have also been students. Dr. Aaron Johnson, John Nix, Dr. Katherine Verdolini-Abbott, Lynn Helding, Dr. Marco Guzman, all are SVI graduates themselves. Another graduate-turned-lecturer is Dr. Brian Manternach, Professor in the Theatre Department, who has served as Research Associate at Utah Center for Vocology for 4 years and first participated in SVI as a student in 2019. Now he leads up the content and curriculum and supports the guest faculty who teach in the fourth course of the Institute, Voice for Performers.

“Since vocology is such a unique field, it’s crucial that our faculty have the same inter-disciplinary roots of understanding that we aim to provide in our courses. It’s also important that our faculty represent the many voice-related fields in vocology that our students may decide to pursue with this training, from voice performers to university professors to voice scientists to those working in a clinical setting to so many other areas. Our faculty necessarily reflect the great diversity that is found within the field.”

During the two-month Institute, fourteen different content experts covered a wide range of topics to support the work of the students in the real-world. The immersive and comprehensive nature of the SVI curriculum is important and is continuously edited and revised in order to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the field. This intensity, high-quality of content, and track record of success for graduates keep faculty coming back to work with SVI students year after year. As Dr. Manternach observed, “Many of our returning faculty have expressed to me that SVI is their favorite place to teach, since the students come in at such a high level of baseline knowledge but also have such a strong desire to learn more. Our newer faculty have also expressed what an honor it is to be asked to teach in this environment, both as a recognition of their accomplishments in the field, but also for the opportunity to give back to the program that was so instrumental in their own careers. Having been on both sides of the SVI podium myself—as a student and as a member of the faculty—I appreciate just how special it is. Everyone here works hard to give their absolute best.”



Dr. Lynn Maxfield, Director of the Utah Center for Vocology is very excited for the future of the field and for SVI, "For twenty summers, the Summer Vocology Institute has provided the preeminent curriculum for educating voice practitioners from across the country and around the world. In the next twenty summers and beyond, we aim to maintain the high level of instruction we are known for, while broadening our impact with innovative and inclusive curriculum that improves the quality of voice instruction and care worldwide." 

The staff and faculty of the Summer Vocology Institute wish to congratulate the 2022 Graduates and wish much success to all of our Alumni.  Their contributions to the field are many and it will be an honor to welcome them back someday as faculty for the next generation.

But for now, the UCV lab and offices will be a little quieter. We will go back to our papers and calculations, our human subjects and computer models, and excitedly await next June, when it all begins again.


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Last Updated: 12/12/23