Practical Guide for Working with Voice Disorders with Dr. Kari Ragan


There are a variety of successful models for working on a voice team to habilitate singers with voice injuries. As both a full-time voice faculty member at the University of Washington and an independent teacher, Dr. Kari Ragan has structured a collaborative system for working as a Singing Voice Specialist. What fundamental understanding should all voice teachers have when experiencing a singer with a voice disorder? Understanding what to listen for within the speaking and singing voice is crucial to teachers who are on the front line of vocal health. Learn concrete steps you can take to design a protocol to help habilitate the singing voice and gain more understanding in the special approach required for each lesson with regard to vocalizes and repertoire.

Soprano Kari Ragan holds degrees from Indiana University (BM, MM) and the University of Washington (DMA). Her dissertation, “The Ballad of Baby Doe: Historical Accuracy and Gender Ideology in the Characterization of August and Baby Doe,” focused on feminist perspective of Douglas Moore’s 1956 opera.

In 2012, Dr. Ragan was the recipient of the Van L. Lawrence Fellowship, a prestigious award presented jointly by The Voice Foundation and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Her research topic for this fellowship is “The Parameters and Utility of Vocal Cool Down Exercises.” In 2011, she earned the Wicklund Singing Voice Specialist Certificate and in 2010 the New York Singing Teachers (NYSTA) Association’s Distinguished Voice Professional Certificate. Dr. Ragan was selected to present at the 51st NATS National Conference on Voice Disorders and the Multidisciplinary Team. In 2009, she was the recipient of the NATS Pedagogy Award. Dr. Ragan’s article “Intubation Considerations for Singers” was published in the NYSTA’s VOICEPrints in 2010 and the augmented article co-written with anesthesiologist Dr. Kunal Gangopadhyay, will be published in the Journal of Singing in the fall of 2012. Additionally, her article entitled “The Connected Voice Studio” was published in the Journal of Singing in September 2010.

Dr. Ragan joined the University of Washington voice faculty in the fall of 2010 where she teaches graduates and undergraduates applied voice, vocal pedagogy, Italian diction, and French art song literature. Additionally, she has developed and maintained a thriving and collaborative independent voice studio for over twenty-five years.

Although her primary training, performing, and teaching is in the classical genre, she has also specialized in Contemporary Musical Theater (CMT) pedagogy and as a Singing Voice Specialist (SVS)—a voice teacher with specialized training in helping the injured voice. Her work in this area is in association with a team including Laryngologists and Speech Language Pathologists (SLP). As a result of her three specialties (classical pedagogy, CMT pedagogy and an SVS) she is frequently sought after as a clinician and adjudicator for workshops and masterclasses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Ragan is a member of NYSTA, an organizing member of the Northwest Chapter of the Voice Foundation (NWCVF), has served on the board of the Puget Sound Chapter of NATS, and is a member of Northwest Artists.

As an active performer she has sung with such companies as Seattle Opera, Spokane Opera, Fort Collins Symphony, Helena Symphony, Washington East Opera, Spokane Symphony, Lyric Opera Northwest, and Opera Idaho, among others. In addition, she is a frequent recitalist, having recently presented a series of recitals, throughout the Northwest, with Maestro Dean Williamson at the piano. She has been recognized as the Regional finalist for the Metropolitan National Council Competition and the MacCallister Competition.