56th National Conference - National Student Auditions and Events for Students

College Showcase – NSA Semifinal and Final Rounds – Student Sessions   Full Program  Schedule


College Showcase

The college showcase exhibitors have been moved to the Virtual Exhibit Hall. Be sure to stop by and visit!

National Student Auditions

NSA Semifinal Round - Announcement of Semifinalists – Semifinalists will be announced by 5 pm Wednesday May 27th on the national NATS website.  This year’s audition was very large and we subdivided ten categories necessitating a second adjudication of those categories.

The national semifinals will be adjudicated from June 17th through June 20th.  The finalists will be announced on Sunday June 21st in the afternoon in a live Facebook broadcast.  The national finals will be held Sunday June 28th in a viewable format with a panel of notable adjudicators with live streamed announcements of the winners.  Specific details for the national semifinals and finals are being finalized and will be communicated at a later date.

Student Sessions

Eat, Sing and Be Merry: A Singer's Guide to Nutrition for Peak Performance in Singing
Presenter: Elizabeth Rotoff
Friday, June 26th 

As vocal athletes, singers should consider nutrition a part of their training plan, just like any other athlete does to optimize for consistent and reliable performance and recovery. A good nutrition plan will fuel singers for the stamina required for performing and minimize the risks of illness and injury that can sideline them. However, there is so much conflicting information on nutrition and diet available that it can be confusing and overwhelming. In this presentation, Elizabeth Rotoff, will look at the role nutrition plays in optimizing singing performance and common complaints such as acid reflux, colds and sore throats, seasonal allergies, hormonal imbalances, longevity of the voice, performance anxiety, and vocal injury. Strategies will be shared on how to achieve health goals, as well as how singing teachers can help their students improve their health with simple lifestyle changes for more consistent and confident performance.

Coaching Singers on Healthy Practice Habits Outside the Studio
Presenters: Deanna McBroom, Lucinda Halstead
Friday, June 26th

Increase your supportive coaching skills for practicing to help your students to develop purposeful and healthy practice and rehearsal habits! Learn new ideas and tools for your role as a “practicing coach” that can directly benefit their practice skills and foster health and wellness. Topics included are: fostering positivity and building confidence, better time management, choosing optimal dosing of singing and physical activity, creating an atmosphere for open coaching discussions, using Practice Logs, Goal Setting Guides, and Healthy Dosing Plans, adding mindfulness to practice, training students to manage Performance Anxiety, reinforcing skills learned in lessons, and discovering and maximizing a student’s practice style. You can help to create disciplined, creative, and effective practicing for your students!

Musician Legalese: Understanding Contracts and the Law for Professional Singers, Teachers, & Composers
Presenters: Jill Terhaar Lewis, Kevin Hackler
Friday, June 26th

Understanding the law and when to use a contract can be confusing. Asking for legal advice after something goes wrong is too late! This session will help parse the legalese of contracts and determine when a contract is needed for singers, teachers, and composers. Sample contracts will be available along with a discussion of the elements therein. Contracts for performances - as the singer or the booker, studio teaching, recordings, and commissions of new works will be discussed. Ample opportunity for questions will be given. Jill Terhaar Lewis, professional singer and Kevin Hackler, lawyer and professional trumpeter have individual and shared experience that reaches into private studio, professional performance in styles ranging from classical to popular to jazz to new music commissions, and the law making them uniquely suited to cover a broad range of topics and questions about music and the law.

Country Singing 101 for Musical Theatre
Presenter: Edrie Means Weekly
Friday, June 26th

Broadway musicals encompass a plethora of styles including country as seen in Broadway productions like Bright Star, Big River and Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Country styles of singing cannot be left out of vocal training of musical theatre singers. Because of these demands, singers need flexibility to switch between vocal registers making different interior shapes to allow changes in the resonance to serve the song style. This session uses a hands-on and skill-building delivery style presented by the biological daughter of the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin. As a group, participants will experiment with exercises for laryngeal flexibility, country “vocal stylisms”, such as cry, yodel, etc., for singing in the country style. This workshop is designed to enhance skills of singers. Participants of Country Singing 101 for Musical Theatre will leave with tools to use in the classroom, studio setting, auditions and the professional stage to help bring a song to life vocally in the country style.

Versatility for Employability: Current Music Theater Training, Research and Practice
Presenters: Elizabeth Ann Benson, Dale Cox
Friday, June 26th

 Vocal versatility is essential for emerging music theater performers. The need to be able to sing every style – from legit to rock, country to hip hop, and punk to pop – is becoming a determining factor in audition success. This presents a challenge for teachers not familiar with the nuances of so many different styles. This presentation and workshop will feature recent research conducted by the presenters on how Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) singing teachers are balancing pedagogical ideals with evolving industry demands. In a practical workshop with two students singing CCM-heavy music theater repertoire, the presenters will use a collaborative teaching model (team-based) to demonstrate different functional and stylistic approaches. In this way, attendees will observe a pluralistic approach to addressing voice function and style issues in the studio. Time for questions and fruitful discussion will be allotted at the end of the session.

Warning: No Shoulder! Mapping the Arms to Free the Breath
Presenter: Bonnie Draina
Saturday, June 27th

Whether slumped, hunched, sore or tight, shoulders cause problems for many singers. Why are shoulders so hard to tame? Can we change our conception of arms to free our breathing, gesture more expressively and simply be more comfortable? Yes, we can! This interactive presentation examines the arms through the lens of Body Mapping. Using anatomical illustrations and skeletal models as guides, participants will actively explore their own arms and recognize how they influence alignment and breathing. Body Mapping encourages more expressive and enjoyable singing through a deep understanding of the vocal instrument: the body in motion. While the science behind Body Mapping is serious, the process can be quite entertaining! We will experiment with movement and experience the body through many senses to help participants fully absorb the truth about their arms. Participants will come away from the presentation with: A clear understanding of the arm structure and how it relates to the torso and spine. A basic understanding of kinesthesia and inclusive attention as well as tools for developing them. Exercises to help cultivate lively, free arms that allow easy, effective breath management.

Singing for Better Lung Health with Breathe, Sing, Move!
Presenters: Rachel Goldenberg, Jessica Demars
Saturday, June 27th

According to data from the Center for Disease Control, more than 30 million Americans live with either asthma or COPD, although this number may be higher due to undiagnosed cases. Other conditions that can compromise the respiratory tract include cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, bacterial lung infections, flu, and anxiety. The act of singing itself may be of benefit to people living with lung disease. Singers learn to control their breath both on inhalation and exhalation as they meet the demands of the music. Furthermore, singers learn about alignment and movement, becoming aware of their bodies. In respiratory physiotherapy, patients are taught to breathe deeply and control their exhalation. In this presentation, we will examine the basic tenets of common lung diseases, typical pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, the pedagogical considerations of this population and how singing can benefit people living with lung disease.

SongHelix: A ‘Behind the Scenes’ Look at the Online Hub for Art Song Discovery
Presenter: Seth Keeton
Saturday, June 27th

In a presentation rich with data visualization, Seth Keeton, creator and director of SongHelix will describe the tool's origins and history, the database’s format, its metadata, and cataloging procedures. Keeton will demonstrate how to use the tool with examples of recital sets made through its use. He will show the catalog’s growth as well as how current users employ the tool. He will describe ways that singers and pianists can get involved in growing the dataset as well as potentially serve as members of an editorial board. Finally Keeton will describe the future of SongHelix including upcoming partnerships and planned features.

Training Music Majors for a 21st Century “Mosaic Career”
Presenters: Nancy Maria Balach, Brady Bramlett
Saturday, June 27th

Music departments and professors need to embrace new responsibilities when teaching 21st Century music majors. The days of preparing students for two main careers paths, educator or performer, have changed and entrepreneurial skills that enhance their degree requirements are imperative. While many larger music programs are able to add new departments, faculty lines, and degree programs, this is often not the reality for the majority. This lecture presentation will introduce specific ways that both individuals and schools can enhance existing degree programs with educational experiences and career development opportunities that stimulate interdisciplinary projects, create community partnerships, open new funding sources, and prepare students for a 21st Century “Mosaic Career” in Music.

Biofeedback in Vocal Pedagogy: Real-time Success Using Mobile Application Technology
Presenters: Heidi Moss, Meghan Dibble
Sunday, June 28th

Advancement in mobile technology has revolutionized every sector of our lives, including the music industry. Up until now, spectrographic software used by voice scientists and pedagogues has not fully crossed over to the mainstream population of students and teachers. The programs can be complex and a well-working studio may not see the need in introducing new technology. However, singing is the ideal target for visual biofeedback given its mind-to-motor coordination. In this lecture/demonstration we will explore simple, easy to use, and inexpensive mobile apps that have real-time success for common issues in the voice studio such as pitch stability, onset/release, vibrato, legato, and other important technical directives. We will also dive into the neuroscience of biofeedback and how this additional approach can uncouple psychological and physical baggage associated with singing. Teachers and singers will participate in first-hand demonstrations to learn how they can apply these ideas to their own studios.

Singers Need a Vibrant, Resilient Voice! Research-Based East/West/Alternative Medicines/Exercises that Optimize
Presenters: Lucinda Halstead, Deanna McBroom
Sunday, June 28th

Singers use their voices more extensively than they realize! A vibrant, engaging, resilient voice/larynx is essential to successful singing, teaching, conducting/directing performances and promoting oneself. Developing awareness of this diverse vocal load and maintaining vocal health is essential. Numerous wonderful medications, nutritional supplements, and therapeutic exercises can keep singers at peak vocal performance. Unfortunately, many singers make selections based solely on peer recommendation and consumer advertising. This workshop will educate singers on the risks, benefits and optimal use of selected prescription and non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, antioxidants, and therapeutic techniques which embrace western medicine, eastern medicine and alternative therapies, and are backed by published research. A brief presentation detailing the medicines will be followed by hands-on instruction in circumlaryngeal massage, pressure points and straw phonation and demonstration of inspiratory muscular training for reflux. Participants will complete worksheets based on discussions of various scenarios to create their individualized vocal health regimens/strategies.

Teaching the Versatile 21st Century Cis-Female Musical Theatre Singer: Navigating the Filter
Presenters: Kevin Wilson, Katherine Fuller
Sunday, June 28th

This presentation will include a demonstration of techniques, exercises, and tools used to develop and negotiate the variety of musical theatre styles required of 21st-century cis-female voices. Participants will receive printed exercises and tools for step-by-step development of the perceived chest, head, and mixed registers through the use of both traditional and non-traditional vocal exercises. I addition there will be a discussion of assessing registration and aesthetic needs establishing a historical context for style for repertoire ranging for Golden Age through contemporary belt.

“We’re Gonna Go Through It Together!”: Teaching Strategies for Functional Musical Theatre Group Voice Classes
Presenter: Amelia Rollings
Sunday, June 28th

Some university music and theatre programs require students to participate in a group voice class at some time during their training. Independent studio voice teachers or high school music teachers may choose to implement group voice classes to enhance student learning. If taught effectively, group voice classes can allow students to learn basic vocal technique, understand how to sing in a variety of vocal styles, and familiarize themselves with standard classical and/or musical theatre repertoire in an environment that also encourages student camaraderie and healthy competition. This workshop will have a dual focus as it offers functional musical theatre voice building exercises specifically aimed at changing the coordinative process of the vocal mechanism, but does so in the format of a group voice class. While this workshop will focus on teaching strategies for musical theatre group voice classes, its principles can be applied to group voice classes of any style.

Winning the Mental Game: The Simple Solution to Performance Anxiety
Presenter: Nicholas Pallesen
Monday, June 29th

 We’re often told we must work just as much on the mental side of performing as the technical side. And yet, despite the countless techniques, therapies, and methods out there and people’s best willpower and effort, many performers still suffer from crippling performance/audition anxiety. But what if all the effort to “fix” performance anxiety is the very thing getting in the way? Join Metropolitan Opera Baritone and Mental Performance Specialist Nicholas Pallesen as he reveals a fresh, new perspective on performance anxiety and shares why, to quote the 1980’s film “War Games”, “The only winning move is not to play.” Learn the simple secret to shining in performances and auditions without needing to conquer nerves, a pre-performance routine, or “getting in the zone”.

Customized Community Performances - A Win-Win for Your Students and Community
Presenters: Susan Mohini Kane, Jeffrey Williams
Monday, June 29th

In today’s cultural landscape, music departments and private studios are searching for creative ways to engage their community. As teachers, it is increasingly pertinent to get our students out of the traditional concert hall venues and into the streets. Finding ways to collaborate with community partners for the “public good” is an effective method of teaching musical, technical, and practical skills. In the process, our students gain valuable skills requisite of any musician – making people feel comfortable, negotiating details, networking, organization, adaptation to different venues and people’s needs, contract negotiation, predicting the needs of a performance, and more. Every community is different and can engender its own exciting possibilities. From singing to raise awareness and funds for student homelessness to singing songs that correlate to current art exhibits in a nearby museum, engaging your community through performance packs a positive pedagogical punch. This session will detail the presenters’ journey in forging meaningful connections and performances in their communities, while helping you brainstorm in yours.

How to Sustain a Broadway Level Show: I Got the Gig! Now What?
Presenter: Zipporah Peddle
Monday, June 29th

The purpose of this presentation is to provide insights for teachers, coaches, and performers to support and enhance longevity and sustainability in a Broadway-level engagement. Working with the demands of an 8-10 show per week schedule requires the ability to adopt a specialized approach to the training of and care for the vocal instrument so that performance can be maintained at a high-level. My goal is to use the latest research, interviews with a diverse group of seasoned performers from Broadway to Cirque du Soleil to Disney, as well as my own experience navigating an intense performance schedule, to inspire teachers to view their students holistically, with a healthy balance between creativity, technique, and overall health. Using methods that are both time-tested and cutting-edge, we will look at the challenge of consistency in three major areas: Vocal Technique and Maintenance, Physical health - Vocal and Overall, and Emotional Well-Being.

The SINGER SAVVY APP: Vanquish Vocal Fatigue
Presenters: Theresa Brancaccio, Aaron Johnson
Monday, June 29th

Vocal fatigue and swelling will diminish a singer’s voice quality, technical facility and confidence. If not addressed, this can lead to vocal injury and extended recovery periods. Why not take steps to avoid problems in the first place? Learn to minimize the risk of vocal fatigue/swelling and how to use the Singer Savvy App to reinforce better habits and mindfulness with habit tracking.