About

Kittie Verdolini AbbottDr. Katherine Verdolini Abbott ("Kittie") is Professor of Communication Science and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also holds faculty appointments in Otolaryngology and in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  She is also a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Verdolini Abbott is a vocalist trained in both classical and musical theatre genres.  In 1973, she transferred from the U.S. to Bologna, Italy, where she performed regularly as a vocalist in Renaissance and pop-rock genres.  In 1978, she completed a master’s degree (equivalent) from the University of Ferrara with emphasis in Music History.  Shortly thereafter, in 1979, she sustained a vocal fold injury (nodules) and moved back to the States to pursue a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, in hopes of solving her own vocal problems – as, at the time, few professionals were trained to help singers with vocal fold injury.  She earned her M.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana University in 1983.  She then worked clinically at Washington University’s Barnes and Jewish Hospitals from 1983-1990.  In the interim, she pursued doctoral studies in Experimental Psychology, with emphasis in Cognitive Science and Perceptual-Motor Learning, at Washington University in St. Louis.  Her dissertation advisor was Dr. David Balota (https://psychweb.wustl/edu/people/david-balota).  She received her PhD in 1991.

In 1990, prior to the completion of her doctoral degree, she was recruited to the faculty of the University of Iowa (Speech and Hearing and Music), and subsequently (1995), to Harvard Medical School (Otolaryngology).  At Harvard, she served as Director of the Voice Center (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and Speech Pathology (Brigham and Women’s Hospital).  She was also an NIH funded researcher (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary) (1995-2000). She initiated her work at the University of Pittsburgh in January, 2001.

Since its inceptions, Dr. Verdolini Abbott’s career has focused on voice in many of its aspects.  A particular goal has been the integration of cutting edge basic voice science with performing arts traditions.  She has had uninterrupted funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997.  Her research has addressed a range of topics, including the effects of hydration and dehydration on voice, laryngeal biomechanics, laryngeal wound healing, and by way of work by her doctoral students, also the intersection of exercise physiology and voice and mind-body connections in voice.  She has had longstanding membership in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, as teacher of singing (http://www.nats.org/), and in the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, as theatre voice and speech trainer (www.vasta.org).  She also received extensive personal training in Arthur Lessac’s approach to voice and speech training for theatre (http://lessacinstitute.com/).  She incorporated critical pieces of Lessac’s work, as well as the work of singing voice teacher Dr. Mark Madsen (http://midnightsunburstmusic.com/msbm/Home.html) into a voice therapy program for adults that she developed, “Lessac-Madsen Resonant Voice Therapy” (LMRVT).  She has conducted research on the biomechanics of this “resonant voice” (e.g., Peterson, Verdolini-Marston, Barkmeier, & Hoffman, 1994; Berry, Verdolini, Druker, Palmer, & Samawi, 1998; Verdolini, Montequin, Hess, Chan, & Titze, 2001) and on its biological properties (e.g., Verdolini, Li, Branski, Rosen, Grillo, Steinhauer, & Hebda, 2012).  "Resonant voice," renamed "Easy Vibrations Voice," is also the centerpiece of a novel voice therapy that Dr. Verdolini Abbott developed for children, "Adventures in Voice" (AIV).  Dr. Verdolini Abbott conducts seminars and webinars in the basic science underpinning and clinical applications of AIV and LMRVT, the latter of which is now trained in combination with a therapy that emphasizes so-called "flow voice" (Casper-Stone Confidential Flow Therapy, CSCFT) in seminars that describe a "spectrum" of voice therapies.  She also has interests in manual therapies for voice, and has training in shiatsu/acupuncture which she applies to voice work.

In 2014, she completed a Master of Divinity degree at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  She has progressively emerging interests in spirituality and health (see, for example, https://www.ibcsr.org/), as well as in the cognitive science of religion (see, for example, http://www.iacsr.com/iacsr/Home.html).

Dr. Verdolini Abbott is former Editor, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, and is current Associate Editor, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.  She is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Voice and is invited reviewer for many other scientific venues.  She has served on numerous occasions, including as standing reviewer, for grant applications to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).  She is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, from which she received Honors recognition -- the Association's highest award  -- in 2009.

 

Troy Clifford Dargin came to know Kittie through a course at the National Center for Voice and Speech.Troy Dargin

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Vocal Music Education (certified K-12 Missouri)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Theatre Performance
  • Master of Arts Music (M.A.) concentration in Vocal Pedagogy
  • Certificate in Vocology- National Center for Voice and Speech
  • Certified Lessac Practicioner
  • The following degrees are in progress at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Med Center
  • Master of Music Education (M.M.E) STUDENT Vocology with a concentration in Musical Theatre
  • Master of Arts (M.A.) STUDENT Speech-Language Pathology
  • Philosophy of Doctorate (Ph.D.) Speech-Language Pathology STUDENT with a concentration in Voice Science/Vocology/Vocal Pedagogy

Mr. Dargin has an extensive background in voice.  Troy started voice and piano lessons when he was a child.  He has well over 2 decades of training and over 1 decade of private teaching.  He completed his Bachelor's degrees (cum laude) at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO.  After this he taught Junior High Music at St. Joseph, Missouri and Plano, Texas for some years.  Troy completed his Master's in Vocal Pedagogy at the University of Missouri- Kansas City Conservatory of Music in Kansas City, MO.  It was during this time with his study under Dr. Anne DeLauney that he became interested in the science of the voice.  This summer he completed the Summer Vocology Institute administered by the National Center for Voice and Speech under Dr. Ingo Titze of the University of Iowa.  Currently Mr. Dargin is in the middle of his PhD (research) studies at the University of Kansas where he is concurrently working on an MME in Vocology, and an MA in Speech Pathology (clinical).  His current research interests include:

  • Voice ProductionSound Pattern
  • Aerodynamics of Voice
  • Acoustics of Voice
  • Phonetics
  • Physics of Sound
  • Voice Science
  • Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract

Troy uses his academic background to help younger singers sing with ease and enjoyment.  In the studio Mr. Dargin, due to his Voice Science background, has plenty of technical suggestions for singers.   Troy uses his education with the Lessac Voice and Body work in his studio.   The Lessac work focuses on y-buzz and +y-buzz, which puts focus and ring in the mask of the face.  The reversed megaphone is also especially helpful with getting the singer to "cut through the orchestra or pit." He believes that all singing begins with Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract exercises to warm up the voice.  These exercises have a therapeutic element to the vocal folds.  After this, any style can be sung well.  Musical Theatre, Classical, Rock, and Belt to name only a few.  And of course, above everything Troy wants his students to succeed and delivers instruction in a "nice" way, because without trust in the studio- a singer is not able to grow.

Troy loves helping singers reach their dream.  He has several years experience judging regional and state level voice competitions in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.