What's New > NATS National Conference places emphasis on diversity

NATS National Conference places emphasis on diversity

posted on 3:28 PM, March 13, 2018
As you view our conference highlights you will notice the results of excellence among our member colleagues who submitted proposals for a rich variety, and the most diverse program ever.

The National Association of Teachers of Singing has a responsibility to promote and encourage diversity in all forms among its membership and programming. As you view our conference highlights listed below you will notice the results of excellence among our member colleagues who submitted proposals for a rich variety, and the most diverse program ever.

Topics include Diversity and Inclusion in The Voice Studio; Voice Dysphoria in the Transgender Singer; Harnessing Music's Superpowers to Heal, Change and Unite; hearing-disabled guest speaker and performer Mandy Harvey; lecture-recitals, mini-recitals and presentations exploring songs from Mexican, Brazilian, Korean, Catalán, African-American, and Creole cultures; and more.

Listed below in date order is a summary of NATS National Conference sessions that explore diversity in all its forms, and in all walks of life, embraced in our profession.

Friday, June 22


Harnessing Music's Superpowers to Heal, Change and Unite
Presenters: Erin Guinup, John Nix, and G. Phillip Shoultz, III

Music is powerful and our skills as musicians can be applied to make a difference. There are millions of Americans who have limited access to music making and would greatly benefit from the skills we teach. This workshop will explore the practical considerations of creating a musical project for social justice, community building, and for other non-traditional applications.

Teaching Outside the Gender Binary: Working with Transgender and Non-Binary Singers
Presenters: Loraine Sims, Liz Jackson Hearns, Brian Kremer, and Rachel Inselman

This workshop will provide an introduction to the special considerations needed to provide an inclusive, gender-neutral learning environment for transgender or non-binary singers. Refine your basic vocabulary of terminology specific to this population and help to create an awareness and sensitivity for their needs. Medical and psychological considerations will be included and we will be joined by a medical professional.

Saturday, June 23


Mariachi in YOUR studio?
Presenters: Marcia Neel, Monica Fogelquist

Ever thought about expanding your studio by including mariachi literature? Along with the bourgeoning Latino demographic in the United States, the popularity of the mariachi genre is also growing exponentially and as it does, it is becoming increasingly mainstream in our concert halls as well as in the school music curriculum. Of all of the instruments of the traditional mariachi ensemble—violins, trumpets, guitars, vihuelas and guitarrones—the one that is most evident, but most often overlooked in training, is the voice. In this session, internationally-renowned mariachi vocalist, Monica Fogelquist, will unpack the elements of the mariachi vocal style through the exploration of techniques relating to vocal production, diction, and a special focus on the interpretive skills that bring this vibrant repertoire to life. ¡Viva el mariachi! Also joining Monica is Marcia Neel a national leader in the development of mariachi programs.

From The Black Church To The Opera Stage: Transforming Students from the Gospel Belt to The Classical Sound
Presenter: Lori Hicks

This interactive singing workshop addresses the common problems and issues encountered when training new vocal majors with no classical experience or background in a collegiate setting. This workshop traverses the challenges faced when dealing with student resistance and lack of experience, and offers unique exercises, specific learning strategies, and repertoire suggestions designed to meet the students where they are, and open up the reluctant pupil. Vocalises and exercises that use the skill of Marchesi, yet are based on gospel patterns will show audience members how to use popular riffs and motives to develop their own vocal exercises. A repertoire list will be provided of Spirituals and songs that help students make the connection from the music they’ve known, to the music they need to know, bridging the gap from the traditional gospel tunes to a more accepted canon of literature. Through video testimonials of student success stories, the audience members will be able to hear students speak on how they struggled initially, but ultimately overcame challenges and personal resistance to their classical development and changed their focus into what it is today. Recorded demonstrations will also show how a classically trained singer can use their technical ability to provide a healthy and balanced sound, and enhances the tone and agility in their gospel performance.

The World in Which We Live: Diversity and Inclusion in the Voice Studio 
Presenters: Marcia Porter, Minnita Daniel-Cox, Rosalyn Floyd, Albert Lee, Scott Piper, Sahoko Sato Timpone

What does it mean to teach in a diverse environment? How can we as educators and musicians create situations that embrace both the differences (social, economic, cultural, etc.) and shared experiences of our students? Is it possible to build and maintain an inclusive and welcoming environment not only for our students, but for our colleagues as well? Is it worth the effort? Why is it so important? Isn’t my university/organization already diverse and don’t we already include everyone? This presentation will discuss some of the issues surrounding creating a diverse and inclusive studio environment as well as offer suggestions on how to develop a more vibrant sense of community. Topics to be covered include barriers to performance, the need for role models and mentors from various underrepresented groups, and repertoire choices.

Mini-Recital Session #1

In this mini-recital session, attendees will enjoy exposure to a wide variety of literature and in some cases be introduced to new literature for use in the studio. This session will include:
Juanita Ulloa – Spanish Arts Songs of the Mexican Nationalist Antonio Gomezanda
Phyllis Lewis-Hale and Karen Laubengayer - From Old Creole Days: Sampling the Afro-Creole Folk Song of Louisiana of the Late Nineteenth through the Mid-Twentieth Centuries
Jessica Foy Long - An Examination of Black Louisiana Creole Folk Song Through the Works of Maud Cuney-Hare and Camille Nickerson
Guilherme Godoi and Feryal Qudourah – The Songs of Heitor Villa-Lobos
Presenters: Juanita Ulloa, Phyllis Lewis-Hale, Karen Laubengayer, Jessica Foy Long, Guilherme Godoi, Feryal Qudourah


The Legacy of Korean Art Song Since 1920
Presenters: Moon-Sook Park, University of Arkansas; and You-Seong Kim, North Park University
Since its birth in the early 20th century, the legacy of Korean art song has continued with the development of modern lyric poetry. It has played an important role in reflecting the social, political, and cultural aspects of human life through many periods of conflict, including the Japanese Occupation (1910–45) and the Korean War (1950–53). Along with a summary of Korean art song history, representative Korean art song composers as well as their art songs will be presented with a focus on their musical styles as related to their subject matter. As a practical guide for singers, information about Korean lyric diction will be also introduced in a summary drawn from the authors’ recently-published book, Korean Art Songs: An Anthology and Guide for Performance and Study.

Bringing Awareness to Vocal Exploration (BRAVE) for Students with Parkinson's Disease
Presenter: Wendy Rowe, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Private Studio, Madison, Wis.

BRAVE work is a new approach in coping with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s – a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Using voice building techniques, the student can experience a more expressive voice and increased abilities to be heard and understood leading to an improved quality of life.

Sunday, June 24


Voices for Change: Exploring Youth Self-Expression and Inclusion through Singing 
Presenters: Charlene Pauls and Sarah Morrison

All young people should have the right for musical expression, yet young people with special needs are often neglected with respect to vocal music education opportunities. Community and school-based singing ensembles have traditionally focused on performance excellence as a primary goal, which does not always create space for the inclusion of all who wish to sing. This conversation will outline several inclusive vocal music education models as developed by Appleby College and The Oakville Children’s Choir in Ontario, Canada. These programs began with the goal of providing accessible and inclusive vocal music education for all; and they have evolved into positive mentorship models involving music students, children of all abilities, singing teachers, music therapists, and partnering community organizations. Attendees will engage in dialogue about how our work as singers and teachers of singing can transform lives and build community and self-esteem for young people of all ages and abilities.


Reconnecting the Dots: Acknowledging the History of Blackface Minstrelsy and its Persisting Legacy in American Popular Voice Culture and Performance Practice 
Presenter: Alexis Davis-Hazell

In this session participants will be encouraged to engage in authentic multicultural appreciation and stylistic interpretation of American popular music derivative of African-American Culture. Cultural appropriation as referenced in popular music is today’s euphemism for the culture of acceptable theft. Debate on the validity of the cultural appropriation argument is largely done outside of historical context. Re-establishing an historical continuum as the overarching context for analysis facilitates the revelation of an impersonator versus interpreter dichotomy in performance practice. Impersonation and interpretation are often conflated in American popular culture, particularly regarding the intersection of African-American culture and popular music. This conflation is made possible by cultural compartmentalization, invalidation and revisionist history. Erasure of iconographic and linguistic evidence is due in part to trauma and embarrassment. Blackface became the most popular and widespread practice of racial impersonation by the dominant Anglo-American culture, which has been pervasive into the present day. Participants will learn the history of Blackface Minstrelsy and the structure and functions of the minstrel show and will be provided examples of impersonation and authentic interpretation in performance practice. 

Singing for a New World: How Voice Can Save the Culture 
Presenters: John Nix,Erin Guinup, Lynn Helding, Allen Henderson, Constanza Roeder

Singing with others has many well-established health, social, and spiritual benefits. Many of these benefits of singing may be linked to the formation of empathy in those who sing together. This presentation is meant to encourage NATS members to inculcate group singing back into our culture and hopefully instill empathy among both singers and listeners. We believe communal singing can be a factor in creating healthy, socially connected, understanding, and hopefully less violent communities. In some communities in America, singing is being used to bring people together. Two of our presenters, both NATS members, will share inspiring examples of their work. Our presentation will also include practical ideas for NATS members to try in their own communities. We will end our presentation with a challenge for the attendees. The presenters believe the time is right for NATS to lead a renewal of group singing in the Americas.

Teaching Transgender Singers (A Panel of Four Experts) 
Presenters: Loraine Sims, Liz Jackson Hearns, Brian Kremer, and Rachel Inselman

We would like to address many facets of teaching transgender singers including what language is transgender-affirming and what's harmful, how to approach repertoire selections, the importance of taking a thorough student history, marketing in a transgender-affirming way, how to welcome transgender students in your studio, creating a transgender-affirming space, becoming more transgender competent, guiding singers’ voices through medical transition, the effects of hormone therapy, binders and waist trainers, using gender neutral designations in rehearsals, and many more ideas to help voice faculty teach transgender students.

Narrative of a Slave Woman 
Presenters: LaToya Lain, Casey Robards

In 2003, HBO presented a documentary entitled Unchained Memories, a collection of slave narratives collected in interviews during the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project and was narrated by famous African-American actors, reenacting the original dialogue. From the original interviews, we’ve learned about living standards, the long days, everyday chores, and tales of the “good” and “bad” slave owners.

"As I read these narratives and later watched the documentary, I began to see where the stories of these men and women are told through the Negro Spirituals. I saw the direct relationship of some of my favorite spirituals and the life stories of remarkable slave women, whose names, if not for these narratives, we would have never known.

"I was inspired to take these narratives and my own research about the institution of slavery and combine them with concert arranged Negro Spirituals to tell the story of one former slave woman through song. It is their courage, their strength, and their resiliency that has set an example for us all. It is on their shoulders that I stand and why I’ve chosen to honor them." ~ LaToya Lain


Exploring the Songs of Florence Smith Price
Presenter: Elizabeth Momand, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1888, African-American composer Florence Beatrice Smith Price is most well-known for her symphonic and piano works while her vocal works remain largely unexplored.   Price was trained in the European musical tradition, yet her works contain many Southern sounds and influences - the sounds of the African-American church being the most prevalent among them, along with hints of the blues.  This poster presentation examines historical events in the life of Florence Price, and her offerings to solo voice repertoire.

Visca Catalunya! Documenting Underrepresented Art Songs by Catalán Composers of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries 
Presenter: Isai Jess Muñoz, University of Delaware

Catalunya is an autonomous community in Spain where the repressive and still resonating effects of Francisco Franco’s dictatorial ban on its native language, Catalán, contributed to lack of published editions and scarce diffusion of its endangered classical song literature abroad. Although several local publishers have begun to recover the countless musical works by neglected Catalán composers of the past century, the broader dissemination of their products can only truly flourish when performing artists outside Catalunya acquire this music and choose to interpret them. This presentation aims to shed light on this nationalistic musical practice of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries—its history and its style—and provides a context for an understanding of the practice so that the genre of Catalán Art Song may continue to gain recognition. 

Monday, June 25


Queer Song: Celebrating LGBTQ Voices Through American Art Song 
Presenter: Chuck Dillard

The voices of LGBTQ poets and musicians have been muted for most of recorded music history. Recently, our culture has shifted to allow for men and women of every identity to freely share their story and embrace their individuality. This presentation and conversation will discuss works by American composers who contribute to the unfolding narrative of these artists.


Mandy Harvey
Mandy Harvey is an award-winning singer, songwriter and motivational speaker who just happens to have an invisible disability. At age 18 she lost her residual hearing due to a connective tissue disorder. Her true passion could not be denied and she continues to make a tremendous impact around the world, most notably as a recent finalist on America’s Got Talent. In singing, in teaching, and in life, Mandy’s message is universal – Hope, dream, believe, no matter what! Info: www.mandyharveymusic.com


The Art Songs and Folk Arrangements of Jacqueline B. Hairston 
Presenters: Kimberley Davis, Lois Leventhal

This session is a sub-lecture recital program based on the soon to be published book/anthology/CD And So We Sing: The Arrangements of Spirituals by Jacqueline Butler Hairston. Particular attention is placed on the performance practice of Hairston’s art songs and arrangements. It is important to bring this presentation of performance practice to the artists and teachers of singing in the broader NATS community. Hairston’s treatment of the elements of form, rhythm, melody, and harmony; the origins and evolution of the spiritual and African American music/song literature and its subsequent major forms will be addressed as well as her personal preferences in the performance of her creations.

What the Fach? Voice Dysphoria in the Transgender and Genderqueer Singer 
Presenter: Loraine Sims

The Oxford dictionary defines dysphoria as “A state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.” We understand that gender dysphoria means that this dissatisfaction is with one’s gender. Based on my work with singers in this population, this session will explore the phenomenon of voice dysphoria as it relates to transgender and genderqueer singers. One’s vocal identity may not be in sync with their perceived or presented gender. As voice teachers we may be asked to work with an individual who is not only uncomfortable with their gender, but also with their voice as it relates to that gender. Questions will be raised and discussed about how we may need to adjust the way we think about teaching these singers beyond the binary.

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing – Cross-Cultural Vocal Techniques for the Global Village 
Presenter: Sherri Weiler

Western voice teachers already do a highly creditable job of providing vocal training in multiple musical modes, such as music theater, CCM, pop-rock, and of course art song and opera. Nevertheless, we often do not know how to effectively teach singing to students who hail from a non-Western culture or whose primary musical language is not European. As technology continues to shrink the globe, NATS teachers can benefit from moving their sphere of expertise to a wider, more global approach here and abroad.

Canções e modinhas: A Lecture-Recital of Brazilian Art Song Repertoire 
Presenters: Marcia Porter, Lynn Kompass

Brazilian art song literature reflects the influence of several cultures, among them African, European, and indigenous. There is a vast array of Brazilian classical vocal literature generally unknown outside of South America. This lecture recital will offer a brief overview of the history of the music and feature songs by composers who were pioneers in the development of Brazilian art song. Some of the composers to be included on the program are Antônio Carlos Gomes, one of the first Afro-Brazilian composers to gain international recognition for his operas; Alberto Nepomuceno, who was known as the “father of Brazilian art song;” Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose works and teachings were influential to the development of music education in Brazil; and Francisco Mignone, whose works demonstrate a range of influences including bel canto style, atonal techniques, and folk music.