Published on August 3, 2016
Pleased to post an interview with Joanna Cazden, CCC-SLP, voice pathologist and a singing voice specialist. #fellowshipofthelarynx #frysade
TVF: Where do you currently practice?
JC: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; and my private voice studio.
TVF: Where did you complete your education/training in voice?
JC: California State University, Northridge, including an internship at UCLA
TVF: What motivated you to dedicate yourself to the field of voice?
JC: For the first half of my life I was a singer-songwriter and voice teacher with degrees in theater arts, so when I needed to find something more secure, speech pathology was a good fit. My own voice had been the center of my identity for so long that it was natural to want to understand and serve other voices. But I was a general-medical speech pathologist and college lecturer for ten years before I got the opportunity to specialize in voice "for real."
TVF: What comes to your mind as one of the most pressing issues in contemporary voice disorders?
JC: Many of us spend a lot of time educating clients about stress management, wellness, and whole-person self-care; but the institutional and financial pressures of current medical practice make it hard to take care of our own selves. That’s a problem throughout healthcare, but it seems especially poignant when working with the larynx, which is innately so tuned to the integration of body & mind & identity, walking-the-talk.
TVF: Do you have research interest(s)? Why?
JC: I’m not in a position to do formal research, but I am constantly curious about the psychology and neuroscience of how people actually teach and learn vocal behaviors. How much is implicit, nonverbal, empathic modeling vs auditory vs sensory-motor? How are vocal skills different (semi-visceral, psycho-social) from other kinds of motor learning? How we interact with clients, and why, is an endlessly fascinating phenomenon.
TVF: Which vocal myth would you like to dispel?
JC: That a magic tea can “lubricate the vocal cords.”
TVF: Your most memorable voice case?
JC: Very hard to choose… one was a former Broadway performer & TV actress, also former smoker, who was s/p two tongue/palate/jaw resections, chemo-radx, the whole tour. She’d had a year of swallow & artic therapy with another therapist before coming to me. The day she started to sing in head voice again was pretty special.
TVF: Do you have a vocal pet peeve?
JC: Competition shows that pretend to coach and nurture young singers, but in reality just throw them junk food and junk technique, to feed ratings and serve the egos and careers of the “judges.” Here in Hollywood we know the backstage truth and a lot of it is pretty ugly. Meanwhile the audience gets indoctrinated into terribly pressed phonation and one-shot-to-fame, instead of the collaborative creativity that makes real music.
TVF: As a voice pathologist and an educator, what keeps you on your toes?
JC: All the colleagues smarter than me, tweaking and advancing our field!
TVF: What advice would you like to give to the general populace about voice care?
JC: READ MY BOOK (Everyday Voice Care, Hal Leonard 2012) !
How about to the professional voice users? Get over the idea that art requires self-sacrifice and suffering. Quite the opposite: vocal art requires exquisite self-nurturing and constant restoration of spirit. Don’t be a “diva” in how you treat other people, but DO be a diva in how you take care of yourself.
TVF: Who is your favorite singer?
JC: Today - tossup among Placido Domingo, countertenor Slava, and 1970s country-rocker Tracy Nelson.
TVF: What sparks “joy” for you as a person?
JC: Anytime humans sing together! which could be Chanticleer or Soweto Gospel Choir or “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”—but especially one night a year when an 18-voice chorus sings my folksong arrangements with my husband conducting. That fills me with gratitude for an unexpected life.