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Phonetic pillow

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Phonetic pillow

Phonetic pillows are pillows made in the various shapes of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). They are used in the teaching of phonetics and speech, primarily in theatre departments in higher education. Dozens of theatre programs have used Phonetic Pillows, including Boston University, North Carolina School of the Arts, Cincinnati Conservatory, University of Washington Seattle, Yale School of Drama, Columbia University, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and The Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK. Phonetic pillows were invented and introduced by Louis Colaianni. The ArtsHub award describes Phonetic Pillows as "An innovative and interactive learning resource that assists students to physically explore speech sounds."

"Phonetic Pillows represent a move to connect the kinesthetic – fabric, texture, the simple act of throwing and receiving the pillow – with an intensified visual component ..."
--Robert Barton, "The Vocal Vision," (Applause, 1997)


Phonetic Pillows won the Sydney, Australia ArtsHub People's Choice Award, for "Innovation in the arts by an individual or group."


  • Linklater, Krisitn, “Freeing the Natural Voice.” Hollywood California: Drama Publishers. Second Edition, 2006. Page 319.
  • Morgan, Michael, “Constructing The Holistic Actor: Fitzmaurice Work, Actor Voice Training.” Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag, 2008. ISBN 978-3-639-08372-9. Page 15.
  • Colaianni, Louis. “The Joy of Phonetics and Accents.” New York: Drama Book Publishers, 1994.
  • Frye, Rinda, Teaching Voice in a Multi-Cultural Classroom. Voice and Speech Trainers Association Newsletter, Winter 2000 Volume 14, Number 1.
  • American College Theatre Festival, XXXV. Session presenter: Steve Satta An introduction to a kinesthetic approach to speech and the International Phonetic Alphabet using pillows shaped like APA symbols.
  • Fifth Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities. Session: A Creative and Fun Approach to Learning the International Phonetic Alphabet with the Use of Phonetic Pillows, presenter, Bridget Connors.
  • Voice and Speech Trainers Association Newsletter, Volume 2 Number 4, 2006 Rena Cook, Vasta Conference in Review.
  • University of Southern California, Theatre MFA Catalogue, page 9.
  • Voice and Speech Trainers Association Annual Conference, 2004, presenter, Rena Cook, Pillow Talk: inspired by the phonetic pillow work of Louis Colaianni.
  • Goldstein, David. Snapshot; 1995 February 12, Page 4 The Kansas City Star.
  • Acker, Barbara, Marian E. Hampton, editors. "The Vocal Vision: Views on Voice by 24 Leading Teachers, Coaches & Directors." New York: Applause Books, 1997. Page 90.
  • University of Pretoria Humanities Catalogue, 2003 page 150, ISBN -86854-458-3
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