Hi I’m Elissa! My mission in life is to share my authentic self more fully and and more often, and to empower others to do the same.
I’ll start by sharing my personal story with you, and scroll down if you’d like to read my professional bio.
-Our greatest challenges often give rise to our deepest sense of purpose.-
In 2007 I lost my voice.
I was living in Los Angeles attending the University of Southern California as a Theatre and English major. During the day I was going to classes and rehearsals, directing a show, and pushing to sing “What A Feeling” from Flashdance in my a cappella group. Meanwhile at night I was taking advantage of my last months as an undergrad (read: I was drinking lots of alcohol 😳). I was aware that I was pushing my voice, but I thought it was invincible. I was also blissfully in denial that I was creating the perfect conditions for a surge of acid reflux.
My wake up call came loud and clear: one Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I had shards of glass in my throat and unable to speak above a squeak.
I was terrified and immediately headed to the otolaryngologist (the ear nose and throat doctor) who put me on prilosec and prescribed a month of vocal rest. Next I was put through twelve weeks of speech therapy. After that, I headed to voice classes to learn more about vocal freedom and power.
Throughout all this, I feared that I had permanently damaged my voice and that it was never going to be the same. But as I started to learn information about how my voice worked that I hadn’t encountered in my nearly 20 prior years of vocal training (!!!), I quickly decided I wanted to become a voice teacher.
I had hit upon a deep sense of purpose: to teach voice so I could help others experiencing similar challenges as me.
My interest and curiosity led me to pursue certifications in Fitzmaurice Voicework and yoga, and also to become involved in an organization called VASTA (the Voice and Speech Trainers Association). The more I learned and taught, the hungrier I became for deeper knowledge. So in 2012 I moved up to Edmonton, Canada to earn an MFA in Theatre Voice Pedagogy at the University of Alberta. In graduate school I studied voice coaching, somatics, anatomy, and speech science. I also began working on a project called Vibrant Voice Technique, my professor David Ley’s idea to use external vibration to enhance resonance and reduce vocal tension (yes, external vibration means a vibrator!).
I am now based in New York City
…though thanks to the wonders of modern technology I teach and coach people all over the world. I am honored to work with a diverse clientele including professonal actors and singers, fellow voice teachers, business people, lawyers, and those who simply wish to have a better voice in their everyday life.
No matter who I’m working with, I base my teaching and coaching on a few core understandings…
Vocal tension is a major factor in many voice issues.
It was certainly a big culprit in why I lost my voice. The truth is that many people don’t find enough support from the clinical world when they’re experiencing vocal issues related to tension. The official medical terminology is “muscle tension dysphonia,” which is a fancy way of saying that a person is having trouble making sound, to whatever degree, because of muscular tension.
And why are we tense? Maybe because we were once told that we weren’t allowed to express ourselves. Maybe because our voice failed us at some point and now we don’t trust it. Maybe because we’re not sure we’re using it right. Or maybe simply because we’re staring at our screens all day. Whatever the cause, there are a lot of us who need help releasing the tension that’s inhibiting our voice.
So what do we do? We address the issue on three levels because…
Our voice needs three things to function well: ENERGY, MOVEMENT, and SPACE.
ENERGY, or a source of support.
MOVEMENT, as opposed to tension. After all what do the vocal cords do? They vibrate. And what is vibration? It’s movement.
And SPACE… room in which to become powerful and resonant.
When our voice has energy, movement, and space it can function as it is intended to. And how do we access the freedom of this energy, movement, and space?
It all starts with our mindset.
In order to have an expansive, free, powerful voice we need to start with an expansive, free, powerful mindset. After all, how we think about something informs how we use it. Freeing our voice requires exploring the connection between our mind, our voice and our body. As a dedicated meditator and yogi, I believe this very deeply.
By seeking answers for myself, I’ve learned that knowledge empowers us. By regaining my confidence, I’ve learned that presence and stamina are muscles anyone can build. By overcoming my vocal tension, I’ve learned that no one needs to stay stuck. I’m here to share my knowledge, tools, and tricks with you.
I’m so glad you’re here and I can’t wait to share with you.
P.S. In spirit of fully sharing my authentic self, a couple other fun things:
- I am also the founder of a global movement called Fembodiment, empowering women and men to embody and embrace their femininity more fully.
- For my 30th birthday I reclaimed the performer side of myself by singing a cabaret show called “Coming Home To My Voice.” You can read about it and watch the whole thing here.