Independent Voices

Inter Nos cover spring 2022NATS 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. Email Cynthia.

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 Cynthia Vaughn.

Read more about NATS newsletters.

"Independent Voices" Collection from Inter Nos

Spring 2024  |  Fall 2023 | Spring 2023 | Fall 2022 | Spring 2022 | Fall 2021 | 

Spring 2021 | Fall 2020 |  Spring 2020 | Fall 2019 | Spring 2019 | Fall 2018 | 

Spring 2018 | Fall 2017 |  Spring 2017 | Fall 2016 | Spring 2016 | Fall 2015 | 

Spring 2015 | Fall 2014

Spring 2024

Confessions of a Conference Ambassador

By Cynthia Vaughn, Associate Editor for Independent Voices
Oh, how I love music conferences! My first conference experience was the Texas Music Educators Association conference my senior year of high school, when I sang with TMEA All-State Choir. Between rehearsals we had special badges to get into the famed Hall of Exhibits. It was like Disney Land for music nerds. Oh, the swag! READ MORE

How Mindfulness Can Help Us Process Vocal Setbacks and Regain Agency in the Face of Change

By Catherine Kay Brown
My first experience with vocal fold paresis occurred after a bout of flu during my senior year of high school. I sought medical care, but the disorder went undiagnosed for nearly 10 years. I limped through my music degree and found fulfilling work doing public relations for classical music organizations. I stopped performing but couldn’t fully let go of my desire to sing. READ MORE

The Teacher as Performer: An Interview with Sarah Hamilton

Sarah Hamilton has a successful independent voice studio in the Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia, where she is also active on the board of Virginia NATS. With a full studio of teen and adult students in addition to many other activities, Sarah had not been focused on her singing career since before the pandemic. Classically trained with a master’s degree, she had immersed herself in vocal pedagogy and anatomy, and learning musical theater and popular cross-over styles to meet the needs of her students. Then, starting summer of 2023, the invitations to perform as mezzo-soprano soloist with regional choruses and orchestras began. READ MORE

Passion Project: The Rehart Gesner Fund

By Michelle Latour
As voice teachers and performers, planning recitals is a part of the gig. Whether it is for ourselves, our studio, or for undergraduate or graduate students in academia, it is something we all do. I love planning recitals — thinking about unique and unusual repertoire for students, balancing the program between genres, styles and musical considerations, and even staging musical theatre solos and duets. So, what about planning a benefit recital? What started as a casual idea to present a recital in an adult student’s private home, quicky blossomed into a full-blown passion project. READ MORE

NSA and Inclusion of Children in an Audition Culture

By Dana Lentini and Karen Brunssen
In the fall of 2023, NATS announced that new Children and Youth Categories had been added to the annual NATS National Student Auditions (NSA). These new categories speak to the association’s desire to expand our mission of transforming lives through the power of singing to include those who are beginning their singing journey far before high school. The Advisory Panel for the formation of these categories includes leading experts in pedagogy for younger pre-pubescent singers. We discussed unique requirements for these ages, various genres, repertoire, and vocal expectations. The categories are musical theatre, classical, and commercial music in age ranges 11 and under or 11 to 14. NATS now includes all age groups for a full spectrum of NSA auditions at the chapter, region, and national levels. READ MORE

Fall 2023

Pockets: In Praise of Curious Generalists

By Cynthia Vaughn, Associate Editor for Independent Voices
Recently a colleague lamented that they were experiencing imposter syndrome because “everyone is an expert and I’m just a voice teacher.” In this age of information, many voice teachers are finding their own areas of interest and study. They have become niche specialists in topics such as mindfulness, acoustics, voice science, anatomy, SOVTs, tongue-tension release, contemporary microphone styles, mix/belt, rock, scream, diction, repertoire of a specific country, etc. Others focus on business, social media, and marketing for voice teachers. Others have earned certificates and spent years studying or creating a specific vocal method or school of training. Colleagues who have written journal articles and books and created blogs and YouTube channels based on their specialty area frequently present workshops, masterclasses and seminars. It is an exciting time to be a voice professional! READ MORE

Creating a Mindful Independent Voice Studio

By Denise Ritter Bernardini and Toni Crowder
Have you ever met someone who had a negative or painful experience in a voice lesson? Anyone who has taught private lessons has undoubtedly heard plenty of horror stories of abusive teacher-student relationships. Likewise, many voice teachers can share negative experiences from their training. Unfortunately, some traumatic teaching styles get handed down from one teacher to another. Unless the teacher brings awareness to their teaching style, they may inadvertently pass on negative experiences to their students. A mindfulness practice for the teacher and the student can make a tremendous difference in breaking this cycle. READ MORE

Cultivating a Learning Lifestyle for the Independent Voice Teacher

By Marisa Gray Atha
Every quarter I send a newsletter to my voice studio members, listing the trainings I’ve completed during the previous three months — typically this will include about 20 to 30 itemized webinars, podcasts, livestreams, recordings, and books. I’ve kept up this pace for the past five years and have no intentions of slowing down. Perhaps I’ll occasionally detour into a more in-depth course and so have fewer training titles to list, but the content absorption rate will remain the same. Why do I choose to spend my listening, learning, and reading time this way, when I already have a Master of Music degree and over 20 years of experience teaching private voice? Because I’ve created a studio model that thrives within an atmosphere of growth — both for the student and the teacher. READ MORE

Tailor Made: Composer Collaboration in the Independent Voice Studio

By Jessica Saunders and Lisa Neher
We’ve all experienced the challenge of selecting a song for our younger students, particularly if we’re looking for a song that doesn’t revolve around the common tropes of flowers, pirates, or romance. In our experience as voice teachers, our students often don’t understand or relate to these topics, and many of the older song texts include insensitive references in terms of race and gender roles. Voice teachers can take the lead in expanding the repertoire by working with living composers to create student-centered pieces for their students and the broader vocal community. READ MORE

Vocal Health Transforming the Pre-Show Lesson Week

By Kim Woycke
It was the week before the big show, and I realized I needed to do something completely different for my students. Our school was selected as part of MTI & Disney’s “United States of Frozen” competition — and we were opening a six-show run of “FROZEN: the Broadway Musical.” I am an independent voice teacher, specializing in musical theatre, teaching mostly middle and high school students in Lake Zurich, Illinois. Three days each week I teach at the high school, renting out a practice room and teaching singers during their lunch and study hall periods. READ MORE

Singing and Memory Care Choirs as an Intervention to Alzheimer’s

By Garry Froese
Seniors are now living longer and contributing to our families, communities and society as a whole well into their later years! This trend prompts a series of questions which our government, health services and organizations such as NATS are beginning to ask. How large and significant a segment of our population is and will be comprised of seniors? How important is it for the rest of society to pay attention to the care of this segment of our global population? How costly will such initiatives be? What are some of the strategies that can be instituted on a sustainable cost-effective basis? READ MORE

Spring 2023

Art is Temporary

By Cynthia Vaughn, Associate Editor for Independent Voices
Recently, I’ve been fascinated by the concept of temporary art, inspired by street chalk artist David Zinn. Zinn has an incredible eye and imagination and he creates detailed whimsical animals on urban sidewalks, parking lots, playgrounds, brick walls — whatever strikes his fancy! Zinn photographs his urban art and posts videos of the making of the art, but few passersby see the actual art. Each detailed powdery chalk drawing will eventually wash away with rain or snow or be covered by leaves and muddy shoes. Not only is Zinn’s chalk art temporary, but he happily encourages copycats like the children who drew their own chalk art next to his on a playground. Zinn describes himself as a “habitual doodler and street artist, wrangling ephemerality and finding uplift underfoot.” READ MORE

The End of the 30-Minute Lesson

By Nikki Loney
If you have been teaching private voice lessons for a while, you might have started with the 30-minute music lesson format. In my early years of teaching, that 30 minutes felt like a 24-hour marathon with some of my younger students. Back then, I struggled to keep students engaged. I can look back now and say that I was in survival mode in the early years of private teaching, and my teaching “toolbox” was relatively small. READ MORE

The Singer and Her House-Sitting Friends

By Sarah Groh
Most of us have met actors who also wait tables. Or visual artists who create graphic design during the day and paint at night. Or how about a bass player who works in IT and gigs on the weekend? But what about a singer who walks dogs and house sits? Yep! That’s me! My weeks consist of dog walks each morning (either my own dog or a client dog), teaching, prepping for a jazz gig, a dog walk in the evening, and settling in with dinner and a Netflix show in someone else’s house. A long-term goal of mine is to travel throughout the country housesitting, singing in the evening, and enjoying some travel as a happy way of life. READ MORE

Teaching Older Adult Singers Online

A conversation with Anna Diemer, Deborah Conquest, and Cynthia Vaughn
"The older population is beginning to burgeon again as more than two-fifths (41%) of the ‘baby boom’ generation is now age 65 and older” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Many of these older adults are “aging in place” and may not drive or have someone to take them to weekly in-person voice lessons. Online lessons are a bright spot of socialization, creativity, and learning. NATS members Anna Diemer, Deborah Conquest, and Cynthia Vaughn share the benefits and joys of working with this special demographic. READ MORE

The Elevation of Semi-Private Lessons

by Cynthia Vaughn
Let’s face it. “Group Voice” in the independent studio has had a serious image problem. As a voice teacher community we’ve been discussing the benefits of small group learning for years. Research and practice have shown us that group study is a highly beneficial way to learn. There are also financial advantages to both clients and teachers. However, we’ve lamented the lack of buy-in from clients. Most parents and students have been conditioned to believe that private lessons are always best. Some studios, like Christin Coffee Rondeau’s studio (cofounded with flute teacher Sarah Robertson), are leaning into small group classes and rebranding them as “semi-private lessons.” READ MORE

Speaking Independently … with President Diana Allan

by Diana Allan
Since independent teachers make up over half of our membership, I was delighted when Cynthia Vaughn, Independent Voices associate editor, reached out to me to answer some questions about what plans NATS has for independents. Not many members know that I began my career as an independent voice teacher and continue to teach private students. I always have found it challenging, inspiring, and rewarding to work with singers of all ages on a variety of repertoire styles. Teaching singing, whether as an independent teacher or in the university setting, enables us to live out our passion, one student at a time. READ MORE

Fall 2022

Needs Must

by Cynthia Vaughn
For many voice teachers the beginning of the fall semester is the busiest and most hectic time of the year. After a summer of travel, conferences, family time, and an irregular teaching schedule or break from teaching, Fall shouts, “Get to work! Get organized!” For most, fall semester marks a new academic year or independent studio school year and a renewal of order and routine. Schedules must be planned, music must be purchased, technology must be reviewed, new policies or rates must be decided, new students must be welcomed and onboarded, meetings must be scheduled with department chairs or colleagues. Ducks must be in a row. Must Must Must. There is an old English idiom — “needs must” — that means necessity compels you to do something that perhaps you might not want to do at that moment. “Needs must” is something I say to myself when I need to start, stop, or switch tasks. READ MORE

Piano Skills for Singers and Voice Teachers

by Brenda Earle Stokes
When I first got my professional start in New York City, I had no idea how lucky I was. I got multiple well-paid job offers, teaching singing classes and conducting choruses for several arts outreach organizations. At the time I had minimal choral conducting experience and had little working knowledge of vocal pedagogy, but I had no troubling winning these jobs against people with actual degrees in choral conducting and years of voice training. Why did they hire me? Because I could play pianoREAD MORE

SNATS Chapters and the Uncharted Territory of the Independent Studio

by Nicholas Perna
One of my duties as vice president for outreach for NATS is to serve as coordinator for SNATS chapters. As an independent teacher you may be saying to yourself, “but I thought SNATS chapters were just for universities, what does this have to do with me, the busy independent studio owner?” It could potentially mean a great deal to you and your business. Before you shrug off the idea of SNATS and leave it to universities, let’s chat. READ MORE

The Italian Toaster

by Michelle Markwart Deveaux
When I was 12 years old, I would walk around the corner to have breakfast with my neighbor Nikki. After breakfast, we’d walk the half-mile to school together. We ate the same thing every day: toast, fruit, and protein. Every day, she cooked the protein, I plopped the bread in the toaster and cut up the fruit. I remember their toaster so vividly. It was heavy, and silver, and rounded. It was Italian. And it was expensive. READ MORE

Rethinking the Multi-Teacher Studio

by Cynthia Vaughn
Liz Jackson Hearns was in her sec-ond year of owning a multi-teacher studio when she attended a 2016 NATS Conference session in Chicago presented by Sharon Syzmanski and Cynthia Vaughn on “The Challenges and Rewards of a Multi-Teacher Studio”. Forward to 2022 and Liz is now the founder/owner/director of a thriving nationally known MTS (multi-teacher studio), The Voice Lab, in Chicago. Liz now teaches other voice teachers about the business and art of team teaching. READ MORE

Spring 2022


by Cynthia Vaughn
A few years ago I made an impulse purchase at an office supply sale and ended up buying a small light-up sign with a variety of plastic letters. I wanted to put it in the front window of my studio, but I wasn’t sure what to say. The message came to me in a flash and I quickly slid the letters into place: #YOU BELONG HERE. It was a small show of support and welcome for every student as they arrived for their lessons, and it was an encouragement to me every day to see that little sign, especially when I didn’t feel like teaching that day. READ MORE

What's in a Name?

by Cynthia Vaughn
Your independent studio name can reveal a lot about who you are as a teacher and what kind of culture you are creating for your students. NATS Inter Nos invited eight independent studio teachers to tell us about their unique and creative studio names. READ MORE

Making Play a Part of Practice

By Heidi Moss Erickson
Sometimes voice teachers are so preoccupied with how to sing that we forget why we sing (myself included). Humans have been expressing emotions and telling stories through song throughout our entire history as Homo sapiens. It has been a way for our species to find group cohesion and solidify important social bonds for tens of thousands of years. READ MORE

All Bodies Are Welcome Here

By Sarah Whitten
The singing world, and world at large, but we’re talking voices here so we’ll stick to this niche, has a long history of discriminating against bodies that fall outside of the acceptable norm — thin (and also white and cis-gender, but I want to focus on weight here). READ MORE

Complementary Modalities in the Voice Studio

by Stacey Mastrian
Imagine having a student arrive frazzled — which seems to be more often than not with worldwide uncertainty and upheaval — or perhaps a student who tries repeatedly to make a vocal change but gets frustrated when they can’t do so. (Maybe you can relate to these as well!) In these tense situations, we might find ourselves saying “Calm down,” or “Take a deep breath,” reflecting the voices we may have heard over the years. Although these directives might be well-intentioned, they may not result in the desired shift; a more productive approach could be to acknowledge the experience and then to combine mind and body methods in an actionable way that allows the individual to be present with themselves. READ MORE

Transitions: Wendy Jones — A Pandemic Shift to Creative Freedom

In 2021, NATS member Wendy Jones had a sudden revelation that she wasn’t living the life she wanted at all. She traded academia for a quiet desk in the corner — a day job in a medical office that gives her evenings and weekends free for performing, composing, recording (and, yes, also some teaching!). Inter Nos Associate Editor Cynthia Vaughn recently interviewed Wendy about this life changing transition. READ MORE

Fall 2021

Leaving Disneyland

by Cynthia Vaughn
It’s hard to process what an incredible, magical, immersive, inspiring, and possibly life-changing experience I had at Georgia Southern University as a master teacher for the 2020 NATS Professional Intern Program. (Postponed to 2021 due to Covid.) For many of us this was the first time in many months to travel on a plane, eat in a shared dining space with strangers, and most importantly to make music together live and in person. That’s some pretty trippy stuff after the year and a half we’ve just had! READ MORE

Learning to Sing

by Susan Spaeth Cherry
I stand in the sand at the edge of a sea inviting and frightening as brand-new love. READ MORE

The TikTok Teacher: Using social media to grow your voice studio

By Cynthia Vaughn
Independent Voices editor Cynthia Vaughn recently interviewed NATS member Phyllis Horridge, who has more than 100,000 followers worldwide and 2.3 million “Likes” on the video sharing social media service TikTok. Known online as Phyllis.Sings “THAT Singing Teacher,” she also is an active influencer on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Phyllis.Sings video posts range from #warmupwednesdays to #auditionsongs and popular #teacherreact videos. Through free social media marketing, Horridge has attracted students locally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and internationally. She has added affiliate teachers to Phyllis & Friends Singing Lessons to meet the demand. READ MORE

Let’s kick shame to the curb: Encouraging adults to honor their childhood performances

By Dr. Heather Nelson
I love working with adult singers. They are my favorite demographic. There are some challenges that come up, though, so let’s talk about them. Now, if your favorite clients are kids, I would invite you to keep reading a little longer, because the kids you are teaching now are eventually going to be adults, and I think this could be helpful for framing your teaching now. READ MORE

Spring 2021

Art Sticks Better to Dirty Windows

by Cynthia Vaughn
Inspiration comes when and how you least expect it. Last December, I learned a great life and business lesson from a local window sign painter. I had seen artist Alicia Michaliszyn’s handiwork on some other small business windows around town and admired her skill, colors, and bold designs. With our studio parking lot empty due to COVID business restrictions, our commercial building looked closed even though we were open for online lessons. So, I hired Alicia to paint the studio’s large arched picture windows that face a busy intersection. READ MORE

Grand Rapids Voice Collective: A New Model for Collaborative Multi-Teacher Studios

by Cynthia Vaughn
NATS members Elizabeth Barry and Corie Auger began collaborating as teachers in 2018 before officially founding Grand Rapids Voice Collective in 2020. They had a vision to create “an inclusive vocal community for singers where their voices are always heard and encouraged.” By combining their skill sets Auger and Barry created something together greater than they ever imagined as individuals. READ MORE

Braving the Belt: My Journey from Classically Trained Teacher to Musical Theatre Pedagogue

by Rita N. Gentile
I come from a pretty stereotypical big Italian family. We grew up thinking there was only one “right way” to do things and were always under the protective watchful eye of an adult. There was a series of bushes about four houses down from ours, which served as the boundary line we were not allowed to cross when venturing outside on bikes or to play. My brother and I would meet new friends at school and be floored if they didn’t see their grandparents every day, or have an elaborate buffet packed in their lunch boxes. What do you mean you don’t go to Catholic mass every Sunday? It was even more shocking when we hit our teen years and discovered that not every family listens to Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, or “Ave Maria” on repeat while driving in the car. READ MORE

On the Horizon: A Look Ahead for One Independent Studio

by Dana Lentini
NATS member Dana Lentini was a panelist for the February 25, 2021 NATS YouTube webinar — On the Horizon: A Look Ahead for Independent Studios in the Second Half of 2021. In addition to her live comments in the panel discussion, she shared these personal thoughts with Inter Nos. READ MORE

Fall 2020

TRANSITIONS: More Than Music: An Interview with Deanna Maio

by Cynthia Vaughn
Adaptability takes many different forms and we are all in this together but not the same. As the reality of the COVID-19 crisis set in in March, some voice teachers turned to technology. Some turned to creating content — writing, researching, updating websites and resumes. Some voice teachers turned on the TV and baked sourdough bread to wait out the pandemic. (We’re still waiting.) Some voice teachers turned into caregivers or turned to self-care. Sadly, some independent voice studio owners, turned the lights off and walked away. Still other voice teachers made a decision early on that they would find creative ways to thrive during a pandemic, not just survive. NATS Independent Voices editor Cynthia Vaughn recently interviewed Deanna Maio, owner and director of Confident Voice Studio in Portland, Oregon. READ MORE

Spring 2020

How I Met My Mentor: Meribeth (Bunch) Dayme
(April 20, 1938 – October 28, 2019)

by Cynthia Vaughn
I don’t recall exactly when I first met the esteemed voice pioneer Meribeth Bunch online in the 1990s, but it was in the early days of the VocaList Listserv, a dedicated electronic mailing list for classical singers that was a forerunner of today’s forums. In VocaList I recognized the name of Meribeth Bunch, PhD from my graduate school pedagogy text, Dynamics of The Singing VoiceREAD MORE

Sing for Your Lives

by Graham Anduri and Stefanie Kavas Anduri
As musicians, we constantly seek answers to questions about our place in society. Why do we make music? What do we contribute to the world? Why is music important? How do we advocate for music education? What is the purpose of music in our lives, and in our society? As professional singers and professors of voice, we both have known somewhere deep in our souls that music held great importance for us, and for the world, but verbalizing how and why was another matter. It has taken us a long time to identify just why music is so crucial. READ MORE

Fall 2019

What We’re Talking About: Facebook Groups
Just Between You, Me and 9,000 People

by Cynthia Vaughn, Associate Editor, “Independent Voices"
There is an interesting and inevitable shift happening in Social Media. Have you noticed that while Facebook groups for voice teachers and voice professionals continue to grow and proliferate, our teen and young adult voice students have mostly abandoned Facebook for Instagram. Marketing experts agree that Instagram attracts younger users because it is more mobile friendly, has better discovery through unlimited hashtags, and is generally considered a much more positive place than Facebook.  READ MORE

TRANSITIONS: Jonathan Pilkington—A Tenor Travels

by Jonathan Pilkington
NATS member Jonathan Pilkington’s life-long love of travel and singing inspired him to start his own business as a travel advisor, Pilkington Travel, LLC, with an emphasis on travel for musicians and music lovers. READ MORE

Space for Sound: Applying Vocal Music Pedagogy to Performance Art Practice

by Jocelyn Beausire
Similar to many children, my first experiences with the voice came in the form of free play, vocalizing and mimicry. My voice was a tool in its purest (and least polished) form, and it had wide applications beyond genre, style, and even the definition of “music.” For example, I vividly remember imitating (with the same dedication) my mother’s singing voice, the chirping and screaming of the great apes on Animal Planet, and the instruments in the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” without recognizing any difference between the relative musicality of the sources. READ MORE

Looking Both Ways and Crossing at The Light (Or How I Fell in Love with Traffic Light Man)

by Cynthia Vaughn
One of the unexpected delights of the Summer 2019 Inaugural NATS Transatlantic Vocal Pedagogy Exchange Trip to Germany was the discovery of East Germany’s iconic Ampelmann (traffic light man). Ampelmann (also known as the diminutive Ampelmänchen—little traffic light man) was designed in 1961 by traffic psychologist (yes, that’s a career) Karl Peglau to have different shapes so that pedestrians with red/green color blindness could safely cross roads. READ MORE

International Ambassador in South Korea: Observations and Reflections

by Laurissa Backlin, DMA
South Korea has a rich musical culture and history. Many of its classical musicians have won prestigious international competitions, and K-pop (Korean pop) groups have become household icons all over the world. Additionally, traditional Kugak music has roots from well before the 20th century. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that South Korea has several excellent university music departments. READ MORE

A High Tide Raises All Boats: Creating Collaborative Opportunities Between Independent Studios in Your Neighborhood

by Carol Perry, with Dana Lentini and Jessica Fielderby Deanna Maio
When I logged onto my very first NATS Chat in February 2018, I had no idea what to expect. The evening’s subject was Independent Studio Teachers, which intrigued me for two reasons: first, I was pleased to see NATS engaging with my particular demographic, and second, since this was specific to my Michigan district, I wanted to make friends. READ MORE

Spring 2019

Transitions: Are You Ready for a Virtual Assistant? 10 ways studio owners and voice teachers can benefit from a VA

by Deanna Maio
Let’s face it. If you are an independent teacher or studio owner, your time and money are worth more when you are able to concentrate on what you do best. But when it’s just you, you’ve got to do it all. READ MORE

What We’re Talking About: Social Media Groups—Do I Go or Do I Stay? The 12 Groups Rule

by Cynthia Vaughn
Social media groups for voice teachers are a blessing and a curse. On one hand, closed voice teacher groups allow a mostly open forum for a wide variety of voice- related topics. READ MORE

Studio Management: Drop-in Lesson Sharing for Cancellations

by Cynthia Vaughn
One of the biggest challenges for independent studio teachers, especially during cold and flu season, is how to avoid cancellations while keeping sickness out of your studio. READ MORE

Rethinking NATS Chapter Events as Business Travel Professional Development

by Cynthia Vaughn
Stop thinking of your NATS Chapter as “local.” Unlike my local MTNA chapter that meets monthly in my neighborhood, just five minutes from my studio, my NATS Chapter is not local. In fact, my NATS Chapter moves from location to location from event to event. It’s not local or convenient at all. And that is a very good thing for professional development. READ MORE

Fall 2018

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor - The Joy of Not Doing It All

by Cynthia Vaughn
Happy New Year! No, I haven’t got the wrong calendar page. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that September is really the start of a new year. As we say goodbye to a summer that hopefully included some rest and recreation, we reboot our studios and reimagine our goals. READ MORE

TRANSITIONS: Re-evaluating Risk and Readiness

by Christin Coffee Rondeau
When are you ready–really ready–to begin your life’s work? To take the step that you don’t think you’re ready to take right now because you think you don’t have enough degrees, certifications, or experience? READ MORE

Eyes on the Horizon

by Brian Manternach
Since winters in the mountain west can be long, I try to take every opportunity possible to get out in the warm air and sunshine once summer arrives. With numerous lakes and reservoirs nearby, I have recently taken up kayaking as a way to clear my mind while enjoying nature and the outdoors. READ MORE

Getting the Most Out of Your NATS Membership

by Nancy Bos
What is the role that NATS plays in your life? Could it do more? We are all equal and important parts of the NATS family, but do we all get the same benefit? We have all invested the income from a few hours of work to pay annual
dues, and filled out the application forms at the beginning of our membership. For some that is the extent of their commitment to NATS. For others that is the tiny tip of the iceberg of what they give to and receive from NATS. But no matter where we fall on that spectrum, the benefits and opportunities of membership are all available to all of us. Those benefits are so numerous it is hard for anyone to be aware of them all! READ MORE

What We’re Talking About: Student Performance Venues

by Cynthia Vaughn
One of the biggest challenges for most independent voice studios is the lack of a dedicated performing space for student concerts. When I had my first home studio, my solution was simply not to hold student recitals. After all, I rationalized, my students already had plenty of performing opportunities at school, church, community theater, and NATS Student Auditions. Right? And it takes a lot of time, money, and organization to coordinate a student recital, and who has time to bake cookies for the reception? Over the years, I have realized the importance and value of planning regular student recitals: READ MORE

Spring 2018

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor - Running on Empty: 12 Tiny Changes

by Cynthia Vaughn
I recently purchased a new car and was amazed at all of the bells, whistles, and safety features that come standard. One of my favorite high-tech features is the FUEL RANGE INDICATOR that tells me how much farther I can go before I roll to a stop.... It would be very helpful to have a FUEL RANGE INDICATOR for my life. Like many of my colleagues I often keep going and going until I run out of mental and physical fuel. READ MORE

‘A Spectrum of Voices’: Then and now

by Cynthia Vaughn
In an interview article, longtime NATS member Elizabeth L. Blades talks about her much-anticipated update to the classic A Spectrum of Voices: Prominent American Voice Teachers Discuss the Teaching of
Singing. “It’s the best advice from some of the best teachers” of today and previous generations. The second edition was released in 2017. READ MORE

Diversity and inclusion in the independent studio: Welcoming all voices

by S. Rebeqa Rivers
S. Rebeqa Rivers is a Seattle-based educator and researcher specializing in the contemporary music industry and the intersections of student identity and arts education. She states, “Voice teachers encounter an incredibly broad spectrum of students. We are responsible to welcome students with whom we don’t have much in common -- or at the very least, to respect their goals and refer them accordingly.”  READ MORE

TRANSITIONS: Alter Egos—Secret Lives of Singers

by Cynthia Vaughn
It is not uncommon for singers and voice teachers to have “side hustles” in other fields or music-related jobs such as choir director and music director. More surprising is when colleagues who are well-known for vocal performance and pedagogy, become equally prominent in an unrelated tandem career. READ MORE

What We’re Talking About: Boundaries and Lesson Rates

by Cynthia Vaughn
Type the word “boundaries” in the search feature of any of the social media forums for independent voice teachers and you will find more results than you could possibly read in an evening…. If you teach long enough, you will have encountered most of these issues and many more…. It is up to YOU, however, the teacher and business owner, to establish your own ground rules. Here are some comments from popular forums. READ MORE

Fall 2017

From the "Independent Voices" Associate Editor - Who’s on First? What’s on Second?

by Cynthia Vaughn
When I lead workshops on the logistics of starting an independent voice studio, many future teachers want to start with “Where?” I suggest, like the famous Abbot and Costello comic skit “Who’s on First!” and “What’s on Second!” Before deciding on a location for teaching, first ask yourself who you want to teach and what you want to teach. READ MORE

TRANSITIONS: Learning to Fly

by Nancy Bos
"I’ve been teaching for over 20 years now - this is not exceptional. If one lives long enough and has career stability,
teaching for over 20 or 30 years is not so much a bragging right as it is a fact of life. One benefit of age is the chance to look back and see what my journey has been so far, and what I see is not, 'Gosh, I’ve been doing the SAME thing for over 20 years! - Ugh.' When I look back, I actually see a Modes of Transportation diagram." READ MORE

Don’t Call Them Seniors:The Joy of Teaching Older Adult Singers

by Cynthia Vaughn
"In our youth-centric society, it is good to remember that some of the most interesting people you will ever meet
were alive long before you were born.... I love working with older adult singers! I learn as much from them as they learn from me.While there is no typical older adult student, allow me to introduce you to a few." READ MORE

Energy in the Voice Studio

by Meribeth Dayme, Ph.D.
What do you want your students to feel and sense when they enter your teaching space? Have you set intent for, or dedicated your teaching space? What thoughts do you place there on a regular basis? How you answer these questions will set the tone of any space or area in which you teach. READ MORE 

Yes, They Are Ready: Teaching Very Young Singers
An interview with Nikki Loney, Founder of The Full Voice

NATS member Nikki Loney believes that young children of all abilities can greatly benefit from introductory vocal music lessons. Nikki’s mission (or “evil agenda”) is to encourage more teachers to open up their teaching studios to young singers. READ MORE

What We’re Talking About: Pets in the Voice Studio

Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey (APPA). So it stands to reason that a number of those pets live in homes that double as voice studios. NATS Inter Nos editor Cynthia Vaughn asked some NATS members via email and online forums to talk about the positives and negatives of musical pets. READ MORE

NATS Chat: Growing or Redefining Your Independent Voice Studio as a Small Business, Part 2
Sponsored by Inside View Press

As a follow-up to last Spring’s NATS Chat "Starting and Running Your Independent Voice Studio as a Small Business,” Cynthia Vaughn explores “What’s Next?”—ideas and alternate business models to expand, redefine, or refocus your studio. Cynthia is joined by NATS members Nate Plummer and Michelle Markwart Deveaux. WATCH VIDEO

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: Starting and Running Your Independent Voice Studio as a Small Busines, Part 1
Sponsored by Inside View Press

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