Coffee and Conversation - 
Music Theater & Pop/Rock with Matt Edwards and Alisa Belflower

Teaching and Adjudicating Style in Traditional Legit, Tin Pan Alley, Contemporary Legit, Contemporary Pop, and Pop/Rock Music Theater Repertoire

Saturday, June 23 • 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.

Presenters: Matt Edwards and Alisa Belflower
Location: Trinidad 1-3

The music theater rubric is used for adjudicating NATS auditions nationwide. However, anecdotal evidence suggests many teachers are still uncomfortable adjudicating this category. This conversation will help teachers gain a better understanding of the nuances of tone, breathing/alignment, language/diction, musicianship, and artistry/expression as related to Traditional Legit, Tin Pan Alley, Contemporary Legit, Contemporary Pop, and Pop/Rock repertoire. Topics will include the evolution of legit and belt singing, why breathing strategies may vary based on body type and style, why posture must fit the socio-economic status of the character in the time period of the piece, common style tags that must be present in order for singers to sound authentic, and why the acting approach for modern musicals is different than what was acceptable in earlier periods. Teachers will leave with tools that can be immediately applied in the voice studio as well as new tools to use when adjudicating auditions at NATS audition events.

About Matt Edwards

MatthewEdwards.jpgMatthew Edwards is an associate professor, coordinator of music theater voice, and Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University. He is also artistic director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute. His students have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, national and international tours, cruise ships, theme parks, national radio and TV. He is the author of So You Want to Sing Rock ‘N’ Roll and numerous articles for Journal of Voice, Journal of Singing, Southern Theatre, American Music Teacher, VoicePrints, and many others. Edwards is regularly invited to teach workshops and master classes for universities, NATS chapters, and conferences throughout the world. In 2017 he was awarded the Van L. Lawrence Fellowship by the Voice Foundation and NATS. In 2018 he will be a master teacher for the NATS Intern Program. Online at,,, and


About Alisa Belflower

Alisa_Belflower_HS_2017_web.jpgAlisa Belflower joined the Korff School of Music and the Carson School of Theatre faculties at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2000. She has presented lectures and master classes internationally at conferences and in guest artist residencies. Her research has included developing a pedagogical approach to stage movement for singers, applying mind/brain research to the teaching of singing, and developing training for crossover artists. As a professor of both classical vocal and musical theatre performance, her former students are working professionally on opera and musical theatre stages in Europe and across the United States. Her students have won awards in the Metropolitan Opera’s Council Auditions, the Lotte Lenya Competition, the Irene Ryan Competition, as well as NATS national vocal competitions among others.

Having been active in other NATS regions, Alisa Belflower currently serves as Editor for the West Central region and has previously served as Auditions Chair, Registrar, and Chapter President. In addition to her teaching, she has directed over one hundred productions including staged reading premieres developed with internationally prominent composers and librettists. She is a resident director in ASCAP’s Musical Theatre Workshop, an associate producer in development at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, and is the current National Opera Association’s West Central Governor. Alisa has worked as a professor, performer, producer, and director in England and France, along the East coast, and across the Midwest.