News Release: Emory Healthcare , School of Medicine

Nov. 10,  2011

University-Community Partnership Offers Middle School Choral Students Opera Exposure and Vocal Health Lessons

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ATLANTA - A university-community partnership between the Emory Voice Center and The Atlanta Opera is providing a group of middle school choral students with the knowledge and skills they need to lift their voices and sing.

The two-month pilot program, called the "Vocal Immersion Program" (VIP), focuses on teaching choral students and their teachers at Coan Middle School in downtown Atlanta the importance of caring for your voice, while offering hands-on choral training by representatives of The Atlanta Opera. As the pilot program ends on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, the students will not only have the opportunity to attend The Atlanta Opera's performance of Lucia di Lammermoor on its opening night, but will perform as a group in the lobby before the show. The students' performance gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at the Cobb Performing Arts Center.

"We hope this program will provide an arts and science approach to enhance vocal understanding and vocal health to these choral students and their teachers," says program creator Adam Klein, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, Emory University School of Medicine and assistant director of the Emory Voice Center, located at Emory University Hospital Midtown. "With the recent news that Coan Middle School lost its budget for its chorus teacher, we are hopeful that this program can provide exposure on a larger scale to the children who are quickly losing their exposure to the arts. We also hope that this program will benefit children in other schools suffering from the same curriculum challenges."

The program offers choral training with The Atlanta Opera's Will Breystpraak, and chorus teachers at Coan Middle School. The students will perform several pieces at opening night of the opera, incorporating skills from this experience. Atlanta Opera Chorus members will assist with the training sessions, giving students the opportunity to talk with and learn from professional opera performers.

"The VIP program is a fantastic way to expose young singers to the art form of opera, and encourage them to learn, not just about the craft, but about how to take care of their voices and maintain a healthy singing style," says Emmalee Iden, Director of Education for The Atlanta Opera.

Students are also learning basic vocal anatomy, physiology and pathology, as well as proper singing and speaking techniques. Klein and Marina Gilman, CCC-SLP, voice and singing specialist with the Emory Voice Center are teaching these sessions.

Teachers are benefitting from the pilot program. Klein and Gilman are offering an after-hours voice seminar for all Coan Middle School teachers. Since teachers are at risk of developing vocal problems from vocal overuse, this special session will be directed towards them.

An Emory University partnership grant is funding this pilot project. The program has plans to continue its work in the Spring.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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