This past August, I had my first last day of school ever as a Speech Language Hearing Sciences student on a very sunny Monday (I remember because I would have much rather been outside). I walked into the classroom of my Senior Seminar with summer still on my mind and out the door an hour later and with every step I took sand, sun, and beach bodies slipped farther away from my reality as a full-time student. Not too soon after that, I was assigned an internship with ARTiculate: Real and Clear, which replaced some of the fun summer had to offer.
Being an intern is more than just providing premium quality slave labor for a passing grade, although some of my classmates in Senior Seminar who were stuck in clinical settings might disagree. I was lucky enough to work under Ms. Hilary Blair: Voice coach professional extraordinaire. She has been one of the most charismatic and empathetic mentors I have encountered both in life’s travels and in a professional setting. Hilary encourages individuality and a loving relationship with our voices. I had only ever observed Speech Pathologists working with children at schools or with the elderly at hospitals, so I was more than excited after my initial meeting with Hilary when she told me I was going to be not only observing, but also participating in her Voice For Actors class every Thursday evening.
All of a sudden I was thrown out of my comfort zone in this new world and this weird sense of competitiveness came out from deep within me. Hilary encouraged this internal desire for a great stage voice… for what? It didn’t matter! I was going to be requested for Broadway after they heard my booming voice coming from stage room #8. My classmates were encouraging; all there attempting to fulfill dreams of their own as Hilary served as their conductor. I stood witness as small squeaky voices proved they could be big, powerful, and demanding of attention. I watched as monotone professionals transformed into full, aligned, characters expressing themselves through hard-hit consonants and rounded vowels, exploring the emotion connected to language available for their audience. Dropping in to character is something that takes so much talent- I am thankful for people that can let go and become their emotions. It is a magical process. Hilary was a perfect mentor as she paired the empathetic practices of voice therapy to the scientific routine I have been lectured on during my undergraduate studies. I witnessed how someone who had voice problems as a youngster came back and found a passion for it. I saw that passion pour into her clients as she encouraged and shared a part of herself with all of them. She was a friend and a boss.
I am most thankful for the experience of training with someone who understands how it feels to experience difficulty with her instrument-her voice. As a student of speech and hearing science, I would consider progressive treatment methods as useful tools to get in touch and better manage the speech system. However, the voice- the authenticity and truthfulness, which Hilary searches for in every voice she works with, has been overlooked in the clinical treatment of speech. Experiencing individuals in a range of experience and paths of life come to work with Hilary to connect and come to love their voice was powerful.
Thank you for this opportunity, ARTiculate team! And a warm, Happy Holidays to all!
Fall Semester Intern 2013