"I am not here today to defend teachers of singing as a body, for the simple and sufficient reason that there is no body yet to defend. If I am called upon for any kind of defense at all, it is in behalf of a small and modest but compact section of singing teachers, who realize, like Marcellus in Hamlet that there is 'something rotten in the State,' and are at the present time earnestly and anxiously devising plans whereby to purify and systematize the work of our profession as a whole."
- Herman Klein, December 1907
NATS was founded on March 23, 1944, in Cincinnati, Ohio, at a luncheon during the annual convention of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). A group of 13 teachers and 87 proxies voted to bring the association into existence that day with the purpose of "establishing and maintaining the highest standards of ethical principles and practice in the profession, and to establish and maintain the highest possible standards of competence in the voice teaching profession, to conduct and encourage research and to disseminate resulting information to the profession at large, and to encourage effective cooperation among vocal teachers for their protection, welfare and advancement."
The association came to pass through the efforts of committees from three organizations: American Academy of Teachers of Singing, the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild and the New York Teachers Association.
Founding members of the organization were John C. Wilcox, Chicago; Leon Carson, New York; Richard DeYoung, Chicago; Homer Mowe, New York; and William Allen Stults, Chicago. They comprised the first executive committee/board of directors and passed the presidency around among themselves for the first 10 years.
The NATS archives are housed at the University of Maryland’s Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library’s Special Collections in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (the Clarice). Information about the NATS Archive Collection, including a description of the collection, can be found online at the Performing Arts Library's Special Collections Website.
Below is a brief history of the organization, by decade and other significant milestones: