The Leon Thurman Voice Center Speak & Sing so PEOPLE CONNECT


Professional Biography

Leon Thurman, M.S., Ed.D., is Specialist Voice Educator at The Leon Thurman Voice Center, his private voice education practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From 1995 through 2007, Dr. Thurman was Specialist Voice Educator for Fairview Voice Center, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in Minneapolis. His long-time speech pathologist colleague—Carol Klitzke, M.S., CCC/SLP—is now retired from the Fairview Voice Center. Dr. Thurman and Ms. Klitzke, however, continue to form cooperative voice treatment teams and exchange referrals with several ear-nose-throat physicians in the upper Midwestern United States.

Dr. Thurman provides voice skill sessions for singers and speakers, and he presents clinics, workshops, seminars, and study courses on speaking and singing abilities, voice health, and voice protection. He also teaches verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and human compatible learning and teaching for many client groups including school teachers, actors, choirs, clergy, radio-TV personalities, businesses, and businesspersons.

"Classical," folk/ethnic, jazz, blues, R & B, gospel, rock, musical theatre, and top 40 singers also study with him. He has developed methods for helping popular and ethnic music singers "belt out" songs with physical and acoustic efficiency while maintaining vocal health.

In 1982, Dr. Thurman founded The VoiceCare Network, an educational, non-profit organization.  VoiceCare has presented international summer courses at twelve universities in the United States, titled THE BODYMIND AND VOICE COURSE (formerly LifespanVoice Education in the Real World), for music educators, choral conductors, singing teachers, singers, theatre directors, speech teachers, speech pathologists, and ear-nose-throat physicians. He is principal author and co-editor, with Dr. Graham Welch*, of Bodymind and Voice: Foundations of Voice Education, a three-volume ‘encyclopedia’ of evidence-based voice knowledge and practice, published by The VoiceCare Network, National Center for Voice and Speech, and Fairview Voice Center. For information and ordering, go to

The reviewer for Canadian Music Educator wrote that the book was “…the most important new publication in voice teaching in the last twenty years.” In the U.S., the reviewer for the Choral Journal wrote, “…the definitive resource for voice…connects science to how we develop vocal expression in ourselves and others.” The reviewer for The Journal of Singing wrote, “…comprehensive volume on voice studies…quite unlike any other…highly recommended.” The Editor of Australian Voice commented that the book was “…most ‘user friendly’ text of its kind I have encountered….”

Leon's Curriculum Vita

Dr. Thurman earned his Doctor of Education degree in vocal music education at the University of Illinois in 1977. Post-doctoral studies include extensive work in vocal anatomy, physiology, and teaching practices; voice protection and habilitation, and in the neuropsychobiology of human sensory perception, emotion-feeling, memory consolidation and recall, cognition, learning, behavior, and health.

For five years, he taught grades K-12 for public schools in Kentucky and Ohio. He sang in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus under Robert Shaw 1965-1967, and toured with the Norman Luboff Choir in the 1971 and 1972 seasons. From 1973-1976, he was Assistant Professor of Vocal Music and Music Education at Yankton College, Yankton, South Dakota, and was Instructor of Voice and Choral Music at MacPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis from 1977-1986. During that time, he was Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Use and Care of the Human Voice at the University of Minnesota (1981-1985) and was vocal advisor to the Minnesota Boychoir from 1982 to 1986. A two-year apprenticeship in voice habilitation was completed in 1983 with Oren Brown of the Juilliard School.

He has studied singing with nine teachers, including Charles Nelson, Linda Vickerman, Geraldine Braden, and Oren Brown. He has consulted and studied with a number of voice therapists, speech pathologists, voice scientists, and otolaryngologists. Three mentors who took the younger Dr. Thurman under their wings were:

  1. the late Dr. Van Lawrence (internationally renowned laryngologist, Editor of the annual Symposium Transcripts for the Voice Foundation (1971-1986), and company physician for the Houston Grand Opera in Texas);
  2. the late Oren Brown (Voice Faculty, Juilliard School, New York; internationally renowned voice educator and author); and
  3. Dr. Robert Bastian of the Bastian Voice Institute, Chicago, Illinois (internationally renowned laryngologist and author).

Dr. Thurman is a past President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing  He also has served as a consultant for the National Center for Voice and Speech in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Thurman has written articles for official publications of voice, choral music, and music education associations, such as the Choristers Guild Letters, Choral Journal (American Choral Directors Association), Anacrusis (Association of Canadian Choral Communities), and International Music Education (International Society for Music Education). In October, 2004, Dr. Thurman was lead author and presenter of a paper that was given at the Second International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, hosted by the National Center for Voice and Speech, Denver: Addressing Register Discrepancies: A Science-Based Theory of Vocal Register Phenomena.

With Carol Klitzke, he is co-author of "Voice Education and Health Care for Young Voices," in Vocal Arts Medicine: The Care and Prevention of Professional Voice Disorders (Thieme Medical Publishers, 1994, edited by Dr. Michael Benninger, Dr. Barbara Jacobson, and Dr. Alex Johnson).

"Parental Singing During Pregnancy and Infancy Can Help Cultivate Positive Bonding and Later Development" appeared in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine: Encounter with the Unborn (Parthenon Publishers, 1988). With Anna Langness, he co-authored Heartsongs: A Guide to Active Prebirth and Infant Parenting through Language and Singing (1986, now out of print).

Dr. Thurman has presented workshops/clinics/seminars/courses for many regional, provincial, state, and local organizations of music educators, choral conductors, and child development/childbirth specialists.

In addition, he has delivered presentations, courses, and seminars on the development, use, and care of voices, effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and/or the neuropsychobiology of learning-teaching processes in Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States for such organizations as:

[Music Education Associations]
Alberta Music Educators Association
American Orff Schulwerk Association
Carl Orff Canada
Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
International Society for Music Education
Manitoba Music Educators Association
Michigan Vocal Music Association
Music Educators National Conference USA
[State Music Educator Associations in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming]
Ontario Music Educators Association
Organization of American Kodaly Educators
Suzuki Association of the Americas

[Choral Singing/Conducting Organizations]
American Choral Directors Association
   [National, North Central, Northwestern, Southwestern, and Western Division Conventions, and state conventions in Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin]
American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota
Association of Canadian Choral Communities
Australian National Choral Association
Choristers Guild (USA)
International Festival 500 (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada)
Minnesota Chorale (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Sweet Adelines International (Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)

[Voice Education and Voice Science Organizations]
The Voice Foundation (USA)                                                                                  National Association of Teachers of Singing (Intern Program, 2011)
2nd International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing (PAS2)
British Voice Association (London)
Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing (Queensland)
Minnesota Speech-Language Hearing Association
Twin Cities Clinical Speech-Language Pathologists
Speech Pathology Department, University of Minnesota Medical Center,
Fairview (Minneapolis, USA)
Speech Department, University of Minnesota

[Music Schools/Departments]
Georgia State University (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota, USA)
Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada)
Mount Allison University (Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada)
North Dakota State University (Fargo, North Dakota, USA)
Queensland University (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
Queensland Conservatorium of Griffith University (Brisbane)
St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota, USA)
University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
University of Hartford (Hartford, Connecticut, (USA)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA)
University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)                                                          University of Kansas (Lawrence)                                                                        University of Nebraska at Lincoln (USA)
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA)
University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (USA)
Westminster Choir College of Rider University (Princeton, New Jersey, USA)

[Education/Learning Organizations]
Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health
Brain-Based Education Network
Department of Education, State of Queensland, Australia
Milwaukee Public Schools
Hibbing (Minnesota) Public Schools                                                               Department of Forestry, University of Minnesota
European Council of International Schools
European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music
International Society for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine 

[Businesses and Business Organizations]
Fenton Advertising
Hoffman Engineering (Human Resources)
Kennsco Engineering
Krieser Law Offices
Minneapolis Urban League
St. Paul Companies
Perinatal Education Department, United Hospital (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Minnesota Zoo (Guides)

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