The late blues musician Albert King was known for simply flipping his guitar and playing upside down in order to strike the bass E-string at the top if the instrument, while icon rocker the late Jimi Hendrix used right-handed guitars but re-strung them for left-hand playing to create his legendary sound.
In the court reporting and captioning field, veteran court reporter Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR, an official from Murrieta, Calif., tilts her steno machine away from her for better comfort and to ensure quick and accurate strokes in her daily work.
Dubbed the Tami Tilt by many of her peers, the JCR Weekly reached out to Frazier to learn more about her signature steno machine slant. We also followed up with Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from North Brunswick, N.J., and a close friend of Frazier’s to learn more about how she has inspired him to use the Tami Tilt.
JCR | What is the Tami Tilt?
TF | Well, Rich Germosen dubbed it that. Rich is known for giving descriptive pet names to people and things. What would the court reporting world do without him? I actually call myself the ‘OG Tilter.’
JCR | How long have you used the Tami Tilt in your reporting and how did using it come about?
TF | I believe I’ve been tilting my writer away from me since the late 1990s. I don’t remember not tilting. Originally I used a tilting adapter head that attached onto my regular tripod. I was off work for five years with hand injuries, so I came back looking for different ways to keep me from going out again. It’s been so long ago that I can’t even remember how I learned about the tilting tripod. I know it felt so much better on my hands immediately after I started tilting. Before the tilting head, I would lean my writer back and support it with my legs. Pain relief followed.
JCR | What were the comments from your peers when you first started writing with your machine tilted like this?
TF | “Your writer looks like it’s going to fall over.” “You write like that?” “That’s crazy.” My writer was quite the spectacle in the speed contest rooms. Everyone used to just shake their head at me like I was nuts. “Why in the world do you write like that?”
I was the only “tilter” for a long time. Then Alan Brock, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Boston, Mass., competes one year tilting towards him. I then understood the perplexed looks I had received the previous years. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to tilt their writer towards them. Alan won the speed contest with the forward tilt that first year I saw him tilt, so the forward tilt definitely worked for him.
Tilting away, along with using the Report-It on my lap, always felt like it kept my wrists straight and stretched out. Tilting towards my body, my hands would feel jammed, and my wrists would break upwards and definitely not be straight.
JCR | You taught your sons Clay and Chase steno. Did you teach them to use the Tami Tilt as well?
TF | Both Clay and Chase do tilt away from their bodies. They did pick that up from me. Chase uses the Report-It with his tilt. No Report-It for Clay. I think it is actually pretty shocking how similarly we write. Our hands look very similar. Frazier hand genes might be a thing.
What you might not know is I am presently training my youngest son (and other Champion Steno students) to write. Cade is 16, soon to be 17, and he is starting to rattle 140s. He doesn’t tilt. That might be because he has a titanium rod from the very top of his back to the top of his tailbone. He mostly leans way back in his chair, so I’m not sure the tilt would work for him. He has used a Report-It, though, since about the second day of theory class.
JCR | What are the benefits of using the tilt? Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
TF | It definitely helps me write longer. It helps keep my wrists straight. My hands and fingers don’t feel jammed up at all. I don’t think I would still be able to work if I hadn’t been tilting away and using my Report-It all these years.
JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
TF | I’m actually shocked how long it took to catch on. When I first started competing, the other contestants would tell me my writer looked like it was about to fall over. “You really write like that?” Nobody really asked why. I think it looked scary to everybody. Now it seems it’s strange if you don’t tilt.
I still look at the writers who tilt toward their bodies and wonder why in the world you would ever do that, and then I remember, once again, Alan Brock winning the speed contest with the forward tilt. It’s hard to argue with those results.
JCR | How did you hear about the Tami tilt?
RG| I saw Tami and probably a few others tilting a few years ago…probably at the 2013 NCRA Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn.
JCR | What were your thoughts when you first saw someone using it?
RG | I thought it was very strange and for some odd reason did not consider doing it until either 2016 or 2017.
JCR | Has it made a difference in the way you write? How so?
RG | Either a year or two ago, I just tilted the writer since others were doing it and I did have the tilting tripod. It seemed a tad easier to write with it tilted and I took to it right away. I haven’t looked back since and just purchased the V2 tripod that tilts even more.
JCR | Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
RG | I’m not really sure if it helps me to write longer amounts of time or not. I just know it feels better to write this way.
JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
RG | Some reporters are posting pictures of their tilt and others are curious I would imagine and want to give it a try, and I imagine it’s helping some with wrist/hand fatigue.
Editor’s note: Recently the Frazier family tilted their way to victory in the 2018 California Speed Contest. Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; an official court reporter from Los Angeles earned first place followed by Tami, who took second place, and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Murrieta, Calif., earned fourth.