University of Wisconsin-Madison Funds Vocal Training For ‘Trans And Non-Binary Voices’

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UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect a statement from The Voice Lab co-owner, founder and teacher Liz Jackson Hearns.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW Madison) funded vocal training for “trans and non-binary voices” in a workshop scheduled to be held early next month, according to the event’s flyer.

“Teaching the Trans and Non-Binary Voice: Introductory Workshop for Students, Performers, and Educators” will be held on Feb. 3 to teach attendees about how to support transgender and non-binary individuals and learn how to conduct “gender expansive vocalization,” according to an Instagram announcement. The Music Teachers National Association – UW Madison Collegiate Chapter and the UW-Madison Division of Arts will co-host the event, and it is funded by the UW-Madison Division of Arts’ Artivism Student Action program (ASAP). (RELATED: University Clinic Teaches Transgender People How To Speak With Voices To Fit Their Gender Choice)

“Topics include considerations for gender expansive pedagogy, exploration of the [pitch, inflection, resonance, articulation] scale, and proposals of possibilities for gender expansive vocalization through vocal exercises and compassionate conversation,” the event description reads.

Students who attend the workshop will be able to “begin supporting gender diverse students with appropriate language and care,” “inform students about aspects of vocal transition” and explore gender expansive vocalization. The workshop will be taught by Liz Jackson Hearns, co-founder and owner of vocal clinic The Voice Lab.

“The intention for the workshop is to explore the relationships of gender and voice, and to invite the students to build a new internal framework around student-led learning. The voice teaching techniques for gender-affirming singing voice are not much different, but the knowledge basis about gender and the approach are different from how many voice teachers have traditionally worked with singers,” Hearns told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Cultivating an affirming voice lesson space, for all the facets of each student’s identity and artistic aspirations, requires us to center the student’s expertise about their own lived experiences above what we might consider our pedagogical expertise.”

The event is reportedly being held in response to conservative commentator Matt Walsh’s appearance on campus to screen his documentary “What is a Woman?” last October, according to documents obtained by the College Fix. Students opposed to the event organized a protest outside the venue and reportedly tore up a Bible.

“[R]ecently, right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh’s visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, partially funded by the Associated Students of Madison, not only elicited protests but in a deeper sense, induced hurt, pain, and exhaustion amongst the LGBTQ community and especially, the trans community of the university,” James Carl Osorio, vice president of the UW-Madison Chapter of Music Teachers National Association, reportedly wrote in a funding request for the workshop.

Osorio reportedly wrote that the workshop “directly responds to the growing need for visibility for trans, queer, and non-binary individuals, especially in the performing arts.”

The cost of the workshop is currently unclear, however Kari Lochner, a UW Division of Arts representative, told the College Fix that the lessons were awarded $1,200.

“I hope to invite the students to expand their expectations around things like voice range or type, repertoire, and the vocal colors available to them,” Hearns said. “The voice and singing industry is still heavily mired in antiquated gender and sexuality roles and it’s time to start actively dismantling those constructs.”

UW-Madison, Music Teachers National Association – UW Madison Collegiate Chapter, UW-Madison Division of Arts and ASAP did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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