The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC’s Voice and Diction Class helps students speak confidently

Kevin Ham
Professor Matthew Talbott leads the Voice and Diction class in a breathing exercise to help them prepare their voices on Feb. 11, 2019, in the Drama and Music Building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

What kind of class combines yoga, tongue twisters and Shakespeare into a single 80 minute period? City College’s Voice and Diction class.

The class, also called Theater Arts 114, is meant to help students improve the strength, quality and pitch of their voice through methods some might call unorthodox.

“The way you sound in everyday life is a sound representation of how you look and the way you present yourself,” said Professor Matt Talbott.

Voice and Diction is offered within the theater department but appeals to both theater majors and non-theater majors.

Story continues below advertisement

In fact, Talbott said he enjoys students who do not wish to study theater long-term take his class, and thinks it should be a requirement that everyone on campus take an acting class.

“There’s a lot more meaning to how you say things,” said former student Hunter Hawkins.

Hawkins took the course in Fall 2018, and said though parts of the class that seem strange, he has debunked its oddity.

“It may seem a little weird working on your body but everything is connected,” Hawkins said.

During the first 40 minutes of the class, students lay on yoga mats to practice their breathing and recite tongue twisters to strengthen their voice.

The breathing portion of this class is considered one of its most important aspects.

“Taking this class helped me realize I sell myself short with breath,” Hawkins said, referring to her habit of holding her breath when nervous.

Students are also required to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet, an alphabetized system that is used to sound out each letter of a language, mainly Latin.

After learning the alphabet, students move on to learning a variety of dialects, like Shakespeare, standard British, Irish and American Southern.

Mimi Vorosmarthy, a theater major who took the class in Spring 2018, said she loved the Shakespeare section of the class.

“The Shakespeare portion really changed my acting style drastically and I thank [Professor Talbott] for that,” Vorosmarthy said.

Vorosmarthy said that Talbott is one of the best acting teachers she has ever had, helping the cast of last fall’s “The Last Lifeboat” with British accents.

Through the excitement of learning accents and Shakespeare dialects, students learn how to speak with confidence. Students routinely say they feared the class warm-ups, but it ended up being the biggest advantage of the class.

“The people who dread it [the warmups] the most are the people who need it the most,” Talbott said.

Voice and Diction can help students feel stronger and more confident when they speak. It can help them to calm their nerves and speak with gusto— whether they are on stage, on campus, or on the other side of the world.

More to Discover