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Angela Caine (1937 - 2011) obituary

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Angela Caine, the founder of VoiceGym, passed away peacefully on 22nd July 2011, after a short illness.


"In 1991 I realised I needed to teach singing in a gym where people could move. I wanted singers to have reference for those parts of themselves they were using to sing so that they knew which muscles to strengthen." 


The first permanent 'Voice Gymnasium' opened in London, in 1991 and moved to Southampton in 1994. Over the next ten years Angela developed the VoiceGym voice and body exercise system that is now used extensively for the development and maintenance of professional voices. Alexander Evans, a former student, wrote…


"I first met Angela in the mid 90's as a student at Southampton University. I became one of the first in a pilot study to see what effects Orthodontic and Chiropractic work would have on the voice. At the age of 18 I had lost my ability to sing though there was nothing pathologically wrong with the voice it became clear throughout the study that the way to recovery from my vocal problems was to explore what these professions could do for me and others with similar problems.


Angela taught a number of students from the University, many who went under similar treatment. We embarked on a study that was to continue beyond University where I studied alongside my colleague Simone Laraway at the Voice Workshop, to become Voice Gym instructors. After University the three of us continued to teach and run workshops together and further developed the programmes that became VoiceGym, and Early VoiceGym. 


Once I had become stable enough, I began to embark on what to date has been ten years of a career as a professional Singer, Actor and Musician which has taken me across three continents singing both opera and music theatre, on tours and into London's West End: a testament to the power of Angela's work and the work of her associated clinicians.


Though many steps have been made there is still naivety amongst the singing profession in ignoring the dangers of functional anatomy, dentistry and skeletal misalignment. As Angela wrote in my first music score, 'Beware the chiefs! Stick close to the Indians'."


Angela continued to work successfully with many professional singers whose voice problems had defeated everyone else, supported by what is now a global network of voice-aware clinicians. She was an active member of The British Society for the Study of Cranio Mandibular Disorders (BSSCMD) and one of the founding members of an International Functional Association (IFUNA), promoting functional orthopaedic and orthodontic treatments that start to treat at an early age and involve the whole body. Helen Jones (BSSCMD member) wrote…


"As a functional orthodontist I was pleased to receive many patients referred to me by Angela. She totally understood the connection between structure and function. These patients had voice difficulties and she recognised that narrow palates resulted in compromised tongue space and that this was often a fundamental factor in regard to their problems.


"Working together we were able to enhance their singing, improve their health and help them reach their full potential. Angela lectured extensively and I am sure that she will have inspired others to follow in her footsteps. She will be sadly missed, not only by her family, but also by her many professional colleagues."


She has written extensively in various journals, and presented at multi-disciplinary conferences throughout Europe on development of vocal potential, performance stress and the effect of both inappropriate dentistry and inappropriate training on performers' voices.


She also published books of voice and body exercises, including audio CDs, for both adults and children, a text book for the development and understanding of the voice and an autobiography, The Devil Within (2006). The books can be purchased, and many articles can be downloaded from this website.


Her constant pushing of boundaries often lead her into conflict with the voice teaching establishment. Roger Thomas (BSSCMD member) wrote…


"She was not afraid to fight controversy and in fact seemed quite prepared to meet it head on. It must have been a great comfort to her to find that over time her views were gaining ground… Angela was one of the most charismatic, gifted and innovative speakers that I have been fortunate to meet, being able to make use of her own artistic talents in her voice and on the piano as well as those of her students, to make her lectures come alive and be such fun."


Angela was passionate about the well-being, education and development of children from the earliest age, helping them to achieve their full potential. She worked with osteopaths and chiropractors, using stretch, rhythm and voice exercises to help children with motor difficulties. She also worked with orthodontists, developing exercises to aid recovery and prevent regression of treatment in children with severe tongue thrust. Alison Holden, a Chiropractor who uses Early VoiceGym in her practice with children having developmental difficulties, says…


"I am very privileged to have been able to learn from Angela. By the time I met her she had pulled together an amazing package of ideas, tying many concepts from many different professions. She had an amazing ability to look beyond her own knowledge base and pull out the relevant threads from others. This form of working functionally requires familiarisation with multiple facets, and Angela had excelled in the work she did. She was passionate about her work, and I am relieved to hear that it will not be lost. She will be missed. I had hoped to share ideas and learn from her for many years more. Unfortunately that was not to be."


Angela's principal aim, after learning that she had terminal cancer, had been to be well enough to give her planned presentation to the 5th congress of IFUNA in November. Professor Michael Gorbonos, director of IFUNA, wrote…


"Angela was a big figure in the world of Functionalism. She did many things that others would be afraid to do. She was always on the edge of progress, fighting for her beliefs. She was one of the first to join IFUNA, and in everything that she could, she was always first to help. Personally, for me she is an example for what an individual can achieve. During the 5th Congress in Argentina IFUNA will give her an award for her life contribution to Functionalism."


Professional wind players are now also using VoiceGym to provide the understanding of the mechanics and physiology of performance not acquired in their traditional training. Sue Dent (principal horn player and teacher) wrote…


"As a hornplayer and teacher I often encounter lack of resonance and clarity of articultion in students' playing. As a devotee of Angela's VoiceGym programme I appreciate the extent to which resonance is achieved through nurturing the suspension of the laryngeal mechanisms and the correct recoil of the tongue. It was her belief that as children are often denied rough and tumble play, their tongue and larynx doesn't assume it's adult position. Lack of resonance and clear fluent diction can be heard in their speech.


"Angela's tireless work was cross disciplinery and involved practitioners from many fields. The legacy she leaves will be continued by all those who like myself benefitted from her valuable work."


As Angela Lewis, Angela was also the much loved wife of Chris, mother of Huw and Sian, and Grandma to Harry and Phoebe.


Angela Caine

"She was not afraid to fight controversy and in fact seemed quite prepared to meet it head on

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