Local Cal U students to attend international symposium
This January, four local college students and their instructor will travel to Australia to take part in the Estill World Voice Symposium. The Symposium is an Estill Voice International event and is dedicated to teaching and learning about the Estill Voice Training method, used for both speech and singing. It focuses on how the voice works, how to create certain sounds and how to speak and sing healthily.
Three of the California University students attending the Symposium are theater majors: Clayton Rush, of Washington, Pa.; Sarah Martik, of Coal Center, Pa.; and Molly Malady, of Charleroi, Pa.
For Rush, Martik and Malady, the voice training method has obvious and practical uses in their studies and future careers.
“Before [Estill], any time I would sing, I always felt tickles or cracks or coughs,” says Malady. “Now that I’ve been studying this, I don’t get that at all. It just feels good to sing now.”
But the fourth student, Jason Capello, of Lebanon, Pa., may not have a practical use for voice training as an Environmental Studies major. Calling himself “the unorthodox one,” Capello says he sang in high school and realized after his first college semester that he missed singing. Once in his Estill class, Capello began to appreciate the science of the method.
Dr. Michele Pagen, of the Mon Valley Performing Arts Academy, is the students’ instructor and the department chair for the Department of Theatre and Dance at California University.
Pagen and her four students are passionate about Estill and are all looking forward to the Symposium in Australia in just a few months. But anyone familiar with international travel will know a trip like that could be pretty pricey – $5,000 per student, which will cover travel, accommodations, meals and Symposium classes and workshops.
“We’re going around to as many funding sources as we can because we understand it’s an expensive venture,” Pagen said.
To help raise the funds to attend the symposium, the students have started a fundraiser through GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site that claims to be the world’s top “fundraising site for personal causes and life-events.”
“We’re not looking for any one person to hand us over $20,000,” Pagen said, adding, “every little bit counts.”
Pagen and her Academy staff are presenting at the Symposium. The students – Martik, Malady, Rush and Capello – were also asked to present and lead a workshop that will be attended by all Symposium attendees.
“So everyone there will be taking the workshop that our kids will be giving, which is kind of bizarre,” Pagen said.
The instructor and her loyal students are understandably excited for the opportunity and the experience.
Capello looks forward to adding it to his resume – even his environmental studies resume, saying he will “present it as ‘I held a workshop at an international conference.’”
Malady, who is graduating in May, says she wants to have this experience while she still can.
“Once I graduate and hopefully have a job out in the real world, I’m not going to be able to just up and go somewhere anymore,” Malady said.
Martik, who has been studying the voice method for six years – the longest of the four students – and Pagen have both started working toward Certified Master Teacher (CMT) status in the voice training program. The rest of the students plan to begin working toward CMT status as well.
“We’re not asking for earth-shattering things,” Pagen said of their GoFundMe goal. “We’re just trying to get as much as we can.”
Contributions can be made at GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/e76o3g
Story by Danette Levers for Pennsylvania Bridges