Media Contact: Eric Eckert, Baylor University Public and Media Relations, 254-710-1964
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by Lexi Nitishin, Student Journalist, 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 certified vocologist. This certification brings a new level of educational rigor and professional preparation to Baylor’s students Department of Theater Arts.
Vocology is the study of the voice and focuses on the science and practice of voice empowerment. It is a complex field of study that merges medical science and artistic voice practices, as well as pedagogy. With around 20 people certified each year, there are a limited number of vocologists in the world.
Lauren M. Weber, MFA, Musical Theater Lecturer at Baylor, is a voice specialist focusing on contemporary commercial music and functional vocal training. Her area of expertise is musical theater, with a focus on the singing voice and related research on vocal health, function and pedagogy. She obtained her certificate in vocology from the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) through the University of Utah, which is the only institution with a formal program in vocology.
“It is a significant advantage for the Department of the Theater Arts to have a qualified and NCVS certified vocologist who teaches voice in musical theater,” said DeAnna Toten Beard, Ph.D., professor of theater history and president 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 specialist knowledge in the combined work of vocal pedagogy, vocal performance and voice science could benefit not only singers, but also preachers, lawyers, teachers and others who make a living. through a powerful speech, ”Toten Beard said.
“Evidence-based and science-based education”
Weber took three summers of rigorous coursework to earn her certification, which prepared her for in-depth research and teaching in the voice sciences.
“I work with students in the drama department to sing healthily in a variety of styles,” Weber said. “I believe that everyone deserves an evidence-based, science-informed education and that all styles of singing should be included and celebrated in this endeavor.”
Although the number of vocologists is limited, the need and demand for these qualified professionals continues to increase. All over the United States, singers are looking for these highly skilled individuals to help them rehabilitate or improve their vocals.
Research opportunities in vocology
Weber said she was using 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 singing sciences. nutrition, and Brittany Perrine, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders. This research group received a grant from the Baylor University Research Committee (URC) to study the effect of omega-3s on voice and is currently seeking outside funding.
In the fall semester of 2020, they began a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study on the possible effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on voice.
After Monzón received the Baylor URC grant, 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 the use of a supplement 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 voice instruction.
The search for external grants supports Baylor’s aspirations as a Research-1 university, Weber said. If this funding is granted, 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 tests to examine inflammatory markers in collaboration with the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation in Baylor.
In addition to this research group, Weber and two of his colleagues, Monzón and Perrine, have also started a longitudinal study of voice lessons on the vocal range profile, which began in the fall of 2021, and will continue to collect. data for at least four years.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and nationally classified research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community to over 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Accredited in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and over 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 fields of science, 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 the natural sciences. Professors conduct research all over the world, and research at the undergraduate and graduate level is widespread across all disciplines. Visit baylor.edu/artsandsciences.