Independent Voices

NATS gives special emphasis toward advancing the work of our independent studio teachers, who comprise more than half of the NATS family of members. A key resource for studio voice professionals are the “Independent Voices” articles, which appear in the semi-annual Inter Nos e-newsletter. We invite you to read our recent articles, offering practical solutions for non-university, independent studios and inspiring success stories of our entrepreneurial members. 

Have questions about running your voice studio or tips you'd like to share?
Our "Independent Voices" Associate Editor Cynthia Vaughn would love to hear from you. 

Call for Submissions
Short articles on relevant topics are being accepted for inclusion in the "Independent Voices" section of Inter Nos, as well as on this web page. Submissions should be sent by email to .

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Spring 2017

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor - Student Privacy in the Age of Oversharing

by Cynthia Vaughn
"Today’s technology makes it extremely easy to record and film, well… everything. While the technology is a boon for professional artists seeking an audience and marketing their music, it can be a dilemma in the voice studio." READ MORE

TRANSITIONS: From Retirement to Teaching Voice in the United Arab Emirates

by Dr. Sherri Weiler, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
"As the university’s website says, American University of Sharjah is “strategically placed between the Far East and the West, between Africa and Asia,” making this a great place to experience a quadrant of the world I’d only once visited briefly before accepting this position." READ MORE

What We’re Talking About: Self Care for Studio Teachers

by Cynthia Vaughn
As a follow up to Kate Butler’s research article in the Journal of Singing “Mindful Voice” column, NATS Inter Nos editor Cynthia Vaughn asked the voice teacher social media forums about self-care. READ MORE

Transitions: A Singer’s Journey to Health - The Mirrored Wall

by Shauna Fallihee
Shauna Fallihee is a soprano and voice teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and was a participant in the 2012 NATS Intern Program. As we define ourselves as singers, teachers and musicians, Shauna explores how true identity is found in the motivation behind our actions: the why behind the what. READ MORE

NATS Chat Replay – Starting and Running Your Independent Voice Studio as a Small Business

NATS Chat guest Cynthia Vaughn led the topic "Starting and Running Your Independent Voice Studio as a Small Business," while addressing dozens of questions and comments from participants. Cynthia serves as the "Independent Voices" associate editor of NATS' "Inter Nos" newsletter. NATS Chat sessions are free, thanks to sponsorship by Inside View Press, and hosted by Dr. Kari Ragan. WATCH VIDEO 

Fall 2016

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor

New associate editor for independent teachers, Cynthia Vaughn, is excited and honored to continue the vision of her predecessor, Nancy Bos. In this column she introduces a new series of articles, "Transitions," which will spotlight the variety of challenges that voice professionals encounter in their own career transitions. READ MORE

Transitions: From Private Studio to Community Music School

by Sharon Szymanski, Chapel Hill School of Musical Arts
Read about the journey of a teacher whose "labor of love" now instructs more than 400 students. READ MORE

Transitions: From the Big City to the Suburbs - Goodbye Broadway, Hello Charleston

An interview with master teacher Stephanie Samaras
In 2015 Stephanie traded a successful voice studio in Manhattan's historic Upper West Side for a private voice studio over her garage in the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina. READ MORE

Finding My Tribe

by Sheila Townsend, 2016 Joan Frey Boytim Independent Teacher Award Recipient
Reflecting on her experiences at the NATS 2016 national conference, Sheila is proud of the programs she is developing as an independent teacher and likes being a resource to other teachers. READ MORE

The Four Agreements for Independent Voice Teachers

by Cynthia Vaughn, Inter Nos Associate Editor
Stories of bad behavior abound among voice teachers. To counter the negative energy, it is part of a teacher's job to educate parents, students and colleagues in business etiquette, as well as to set expectations. READ MORE

Spring 2016

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor

by Nancy Bos, Independent Teacher Associate Editor 
Nancy talks about the benefits gained from taking the initiative to create community among your local voice teachers. READ MORE

Vocal Retraining of Problem Voices

by Arlene McIntyre
Based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Arlene has worked successfully with singers who have problem voices. READ MORE

Training the Transgender Singer: Finding the Voice Inside

by Shelagh Davies
Many singing teachers are now meeting a relatively new but rapidly expanding group of voice students - those who are transgender. READ MORE

Perspectives from a Teen Singer

by Akemi Takahashi
Music educators recognize that the power and influence of music can have a profound impact on people of all ages. However, a common topic of controversy among voice teachers is the age at which a child should be accepted into the studio as a student. READ MORE

Fall 2015

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor

by Nancy Bos, Independent Teacher Associate Editor 
For the Independent Teacher, the internet makes nearly every task we do, aside from working with students, outsourceable with a few clicks, from scheduling and billing to answering emails. READ MORE

Staying on Track: Vocal Use Points Tracker

by Theresa Brancaccio
As a voice teacher at the university level, I have become acutely aware of how balancing the demands of elite vocal training, academics, and life in general is a challenge and an acquired skill... It is easy to forget that the singer’s voice does double duty as a utilitarian tool of communication and as a highly refined musical instrument capable of deep artistic expression. READ MORE

Should I Post My Rates on My Website?

by Wendy Stevens, M.M., MCTM
Though this is an important question that any independent voice teacher should ask, the answer to this question is unfortunately not an easy “Yes” or “No.” Posting or not posting are both good ideas, so examining the pros and cons of each way is important in deciding how best to attract the students that you desire. READ MORE

The Road from Voice Teacher to Producer

by Ron Browning
Somewhere in the beginning of this last decade or two of my career as a voice teacher, I ventured down an exciting path. The journey has brought me up to my next level as a teacher, and I now find myself wearing two new hats—vocal producer and record producer. READ MORE

Lessons In Congeniality

by Diana McCullough
All of us, whether in private studios, community music schools, colleges, universities, or conservatories, can give ourselves the gift of collegiality.” READ MORE

Spring 2015

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor

by Nancy Bos, Independent Teacher Associate Editor 
It’s time to start saving for the National conference.... This time it is going to be different. Here is my secret – have you seen this before? I can’t take credit for coming up with it, but I am super excited to share it. READ MORE

I’ve Got a Golden Ticket

by Vanessa Jump Nelson
Most days of the week, I have the shortest commute of anyone. I take a single step through the door from my house to my voice studio and am instantly ready to teach. On Fridays, however, my commute to teach is a bit more unusual. The drive to the airport is about 13 miles and takes 30 minutes. I do my pre-flight inspection, open my hangar doors, and push my yellow 1946 J-3 Cub into the sunshine. READ MORE

Sick and Singing

by Susan Andes Brizick
You have a full performance schedule and things are going great, la la la laaaah...oh boy, I’m sick. What do you do if you find yourself sick? Despite our best efforts to stay healthy, sometimes we do catch that cold. READ MORE

My Little Private Impostor Syndrome

by Martine Bron
When asked to describe my life journey, I inevitably get the same reactions. In short, “Whoa, you’re a singer, and a voice teacher, and you’ve been living in three different countries in the last 15 years… you must be good at what you do.” The shortcuts people take…  READ MORE

Vocal Cord Injuries and Identity Development in the Young Singer: The Role of a Mentor

by Katie Becker
In September of my senior year of high school, singing – once one of my greatest passions – became the source of the most intense identity crisis I experienced as a teenager. I was diagnosed with a vocal cord pseudo-cyst that effectively halted my once-zealous participation in voice lessons, choirs, and competitions...  READ MORE

Fall 2014

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor - NATS Family Legacy

by Nancy Bos, Independent Teacher Associate Editor
We are part of a family. In fact you and your studio are a branch on the family tree that grew from rootstock 70 years ago. Even before that, our legacy started as a subgroup of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) in 1906. READ MORE

A Listening Ear

by Sally Palmer
Last winter a student arrived at her lesson in tears. I asked her what was wrong and with a choked voice she said, “I didn’t want to come to piano lessons today but my mom told me I had to.” READ MORE

Success - By Whose Definition?

by Sharon Buck
As a teacher and performer from my own hard earned experience, looking through the narrow glass of success and failure is limiting thinking and will not serve us or our students. Our students’ lives are busier than ever and one has to ask “what’s it all for?” READ MORE

Time To Face The Music: Reality Check for Senior Singers & Their Teachers

by Sangeetha Rayapati
Slowly but surely, voice teachers across the globe are consistently turning their attention toward Senior Singers; those in retirement, generally over 60 years old. Baby boomers have “aged up” and are taking up new studies or continuing their study of singing. Choirs are forming that cater to the senior singer. READ MORE

Choir Hazards

by Kara Quello
I love choir! I started singing in Sunday School choir as early as I can remember and at age 10 I decided that I wanted to attend Pacific Lutheran University so I could sing in The Choir of the West, which I eventually did. READ MORE

My Summer With NATS: Intern Amanda Zasada

by Amanda Zasada
My time in the office began in June, a mere one month before the national conference. I jumped head first into the conference preparations, and soon the immense depth of work which goes into a conference was revealed to me. READ MORE