richard morris, ph.d., ccc-slp

Published on June 12, 2016

Pleased to introduce Richard J. Morris, Ph.D. – CCC-SLP. He has a vast array of research and teaching interests in the field of voice. He is also a triathlete!

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TVF: Where do you currently practice/teach?

RM: I am a professor at Florida State University. I do a limited amount of clinical supervision and I do a limited amount of private practice voice therapy.


TVF: Where did you complete your education/training in voice?

RM: I did a M.A. thesis under the direction of Joel Kahane at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). The thesis was a histological study of the tissues in the vocal fold cover on the superior surface of the vocal folds. Also, at Memphis I studied therapeutic communication under Louise Ward and Betty Webster. These two professors greatly developed my understanding of the therapeutic process and therapeutic relationships.

After my CFY at the V.A. Hospital in Gainesville, FL, I attended the University of Florida for my Ph.D. Although my major professor was W. S. (Sam) Brown, Jr. and my dissertation was an acoustic and physiologic phonetics study, I studied voice science with Harry Hollien, voice disorders with Doug Hicks, and observed the voice clinic of G. Paul Moore and Dough Hicks. During this time I completed a study for the Voice Symposium with Sam Brown and Howard Rothman. This began my interest in the singing voice.


TVF: What motivated you to dedicate yourself to the field of voice?

RM: After the initial study on the singing voice I completed a pair of studies on the older singing voice with Sam Brown and Harry Hollien. Through this work I was introduced to Elizabeth Howell, a vocal performance teacher in New York City. She introduced me to Jeannette LoVetri. Through these studies and relationships I went to several Voice Symposia. The combination of focus on the therapeutic process and singing voice became a significant interest to me. The chance to meet and associate with Ron Scherer, Rahul Shrivastav, Ron Baken, Bernard Rousseau, and many others also inspired me.


TVF: Do you have research interest(s)? Would you tell us in layman’s term, what your research is about? In what ways can your research be applied in the clinical field?

RM: My current research interest is in the interaction of laryngeal and vocal tract activity in the production of classically trained singing voices. I do this work in conjunction with my colleague in the College of Music, David Okerlund. Although this work does not have direct implications to voice therapy, it may have implications for vocal pedagogy and the training of classical singers. In this manner the research informs my conversations with singers who need voice therapy for their speaking voices.


TVF: Your most memorable voice case?

RM: I have some clinical memories that inform my teaching as I talk about a topic or review a video, but individual cases do not jump out in my memory.


TVF: Do you have a vocal pet peeve?

RM: I get weary of hearing low resonance focus in the young women who are students in our program. The poor vocal model also makes them less effective clinicians for voice cases. In those situations I have double duty as the therapist and the supervisor for the student.


TVF: As a voice pathologist/educator/researcher, what keeps you on your toes?

RM: I work on keeping myself from becoming set in my thinking. I need to keep myself skeptical of my perspectives and the perspectives of others. I also need to avoid being seduced by interesting sounding ideas that lack data to support them.


TVF: What advice would you like to give to the general populace about voice care? How about to the professional voice users?

RM: Sleep more and stay hydrated. Many folks out there are underslept and it affects the voice. Also, keep the abdominal muscles (currently ‘the core’) strong.


TVF: Who are your favorite singers?

RM: The first names that come to mind are Luciana Souza, Ry Cooder, Doc Watson, Harry Nillson, and Bryn Terfel.


TVF: What sparks “joy” for you as a person?

RM: My wife and my daughters are my greatest sparks as well as my extended family. My Jewish practice and the people with whom I practice are a source of joy as well. I thoroughly enjoy my teaching, both classroom and clinical, and my research at the university. I would not have much energy for any of these without my training for and participation in sprint triathlons.