2018 Intern Alta Boover (3rd left) with Cathy Compton (Intern), Brian Gill (Master Teacher) and André Chiang (Intern)
“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”
— Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett
It was amazing to spend the week with a group of “seekers.” Though the master teachers in this year’s session (Margaret Cusack, Matt Edwards, Brian Gill, Jan Prokop, and Arlene Shrut) taught with conviction, they were also each marked by the same curiosity and persistent pursuit of discovery. The openness with which they interacted with us and with one another was inspiring. It struck me much the same as in improv comedy with the reciprocity concept of “Yes!, and...” There are things that we know, there are scientific truths that govern what we do, and there are boundless questions which arise and which we must pursue through scientific research and through the process of making art.
We spent the week expanding and contextualizing our knowledge base with the added bonus of direct application in the role of student and of teacher. Few of us ever took a “break” during the day, but rather continued the discussion which flowed right back into interaction and application. When you gather this many seekers in one space, there is the danger that it will turn into a bunch of smart people sitting in a room talking about things we love. Of course there were discussions, but we are fortunate that the NATS internship model effectively integrates direct application of skills. We spent each morning teaching students from the CU Boulder community. The volunteer student singers we worked with were outstanding! Their willingness to work, and to let us learn with and through them, was essential. We were all so grateful to them. What a luxury it was to have this gift of time. We were able to focus on the craft of pedagogy, on technique as it relates to voice function, and on practical application without a result-based deadline such as a performance or jury.
In addition to traditional master classes with each of the master teachers, we reveled in presentations including “Guiding Principles for Voice Training” (Gill), “Align your Body; Free your Voice” (Prokop), “Discussion of Vocal Registration” (Cusack), “Teaching Musical Theatre and Pop/Rock Styles” (Edwards), and “Coaching: The Sister Art” and “What’s in Your Portfolio? Artistic Planning for Collaborative Pianists” (Shrut). I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in addition to the very fulfilling work that was done, copious amounts of fun were also had!
View our Facebook Album of photos from the 2018 Intern Program at CU Boulder.
When NATS announced this year’s class of interns, I received a flurry of messages from colleagues and friends who had participated in years past recounting their intern experiences and how that time transformed them. I am now one of those who will point to these 10 short days as among the most potent and generative of my early career.
Many thanks go to Norman Spivey and to the on-site coordinator Matthew Chellis, to the Vocal Literature Liaison Tana Field and to all of the many publishers who were so generous with their time and resources.
— Alta Marie Boover, NATS Intern - Class of 2018