Takeaways from NATS Conference – July 1, 2022

takaways, NATS logo, Chicago skyline,

I promised I’d share my takeaways from the NATS Conference this summer, and here’s the first one!!

(These are from the report I submitted to the MDDC NATS chapter on October 23.)

July 1: 

  • “That was Intense! Cool-downs for Vocal Athletes” presented by Gwendolyn Walker and Edrie Means Weekly (off-site at Roosevelt University)
    TakeawaysAlexander Technique based tools to create vocalises (for cool-downs and warm-ups), which also can be used to diagnose and address individual issues in student singers. Vocalises included gentle SOVTEs and oohs, self-massage, and “whispered ah”/body mapping work. The self-massage exercises were of particular interest, especially those pertaining to masseter and trap release.
  • “Rock the Musical Stage: Auditioning for Musical Theater with Pop/Rock Songs” presented by Valerie Maze and Brian Kemer (also held at RU)
    TakeawaysSingers need to be aware of the subsets of rock and know which styles to audition with based on the show (e.g., don’t audition with folk rock for a punk rock show). Copying is not a bad thing, at least initially, to find your own style. Unlike musical theater (or opera), where context is set, you set your own context with a pop rock song. Don’t sing songs from jukebox musicals in the context of the jukebox musical – sing it in the context you create (i.e., not in character)

    • Know the historical/societal significance of the style – it varies greatly!
    • Gender bending is fine!
    • Don’t bring in tracks or sing a cappella
    • Step by step prepIdentify overarching musical style of a showWhat is the worldview/cultural relevance of the style?Create a story for yourself
      • What is your created character’s POV?
      • How do all these influence your vocal choices?
      • What is your why?
  • “Repertoire for Trans/Non-Binary Students: A Panel Discussion” presented by Deonté Warren, Juanita Marchand Knight, Liz Jackson Hearns, and Brian Kremer
    Takeaways:Elements of genderIdentity: Who I know myself to beExpression: How do I show it?

    • Perception: How does everyone react/relate to me based on their own identityFind the authentic use of your voiceYou have a voiceYou have autonomy
      • You are an artist
      • Goals for assigning repertoire
      • Flesh out your bookSkill development
      • The fach system should serve the singer rather than the other way around
      • The Great American Songbook can be a great source for finding non-binary repertoire (David Sabella)
  • “Disobedient Singing: Break All the Rules – A Personalized Approach to Singing for YOUR Body from a Physical Therapist and Voice Teacher Team” presented by Liz Fraser and Abby Halpin
    Takeaways:If you stretch your neck up and then open your mouth, the stretch releases!Abby: “Muscles work best in their middle range.”Liz: “Unstable is okay; uncomfortable is not.”

    • Ask your students if they have had injuries/surgeries
    • Find a PT who is understanding of the athleticism involved in singing

That was a lot for the first day! Stay tuned for the subsequent days!

My kinda town, Chicago is!

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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