Takeaways from the NATS Conference – July 5-6, 2022

Here’s an overview of the final full day of the conference and the general meeting the day after.

July 5, 2022

  • “Laban for Singers: Laban Movement Analysis for Body Release and Character Development” presented by Kyle Sackett
    • Created by a Hungarian dancer/father of modern dance
    • “Laban Movement Analysis” – language to describe, visual, interpret and document all varieties of human movement based on the concepts of
      • Weight (Pressure/Resistance): Strong – Light
      • Space (Focus/Attention): Direct – Indirect
      • Time: Non-legato -Legato
      • Energy/Flow (Movement dynamic): Bound – Free
    • Different movements have different components and can be applied to spoken and sung words when determining interpretation

    • This can function as a diagnostic tool as well – if the movement is stopping, what’s happening with the voice
      EXCELLENT presentation – I wish it were longer. I strongly considered taking an intensive scheduled for the end of August in Brooklyn, but circumstances prevented that. It’s something I’d really like to explore further – this is the method that Matt Bender covered in his World Voice Weekend presentation in April 2021.
  • “Where do we go from here?” presented by Albert R. Lee and Alejandra Valarino Boyer
    • For adjudication: Take out personal technical terms in favor of consistency and compliance with the national standards
    • The term “master class” is a term rooted in slavery – eliminate it! [This is something I never considered – I know that “master suite” is no longer used in real estate, but I thought “master class” came from the master/student model of vocal pedagogy – which is also something that is under scrutiny]
    • The chapters need to step up to raise money for the underserved (often minority) competitors so that they can participate in all levels of the audition process [We’re working on this in MDDC NATS – stay tuned for more info]
    • The voice is part of our identity and teachers should approach this with the warmest amount of trust
    • Your primary question should be “What is this singer’s identity?” 
  • “Formant Vision: Strategies for the Learning and Teaching of Voice Acoustics” presented by Nicholas Perna and Sarah Pigott
    Takeaways: While I love Nick Perna as my own teacher and I love his podcast, VocalFri, with Sarah, I have to admit that this session was a bit out of my comfort zone (it hurt my brain). I try really hard to “get acoustics,” but the graphs and jargon always makes me feel …. stupid. I’ll keep working at it. It was still an entertaining presentation!

July 6, 2022

  • General Meeting
    • Many reports given – overall impression:
      • The board is strong and very idea-driven
      • Social unrest and Covid has resulted in a more aware and involved organization
      • The 2020 virtual conference was an exceptional success and established a great deal of connectivity


It was a terrific conference – I’m looking forward to watching the videos of the sessions I didn’t attend, which (I believe) are available to me for the remainder of the calendar year and possibly a little beyond. Some of the ones that I want to see are:

  • What do you really know about the American Negro spiritual? [not as much as I’d like]
  • Flipping the voice pedagogy frame [even though I’m not currently teaching pedagogy, that’d be interesting]
  • Mini-recital: Music by and about women
  • Singing in the Key of T [this would help me prepare for teaching transmen]
  • Nothing But Practical: Pre-Performance and In-Performance Strategies to Minimize Anxiety [I haven’t dealt with this since my mother died, but I know it’s a major factor for many people]
  • Artistic Performance: Songs About Ageing [because, well, I am]

And then there was that other takeaway, which impacted everything I did for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

COVID-19 - WOAH - World Organisation for Animal Health
Such a pretty picture for such an ugly thing

I’d like to thank MDDC NATS for covering my registration fee (I’m on the executive board, and the president couldn’t go). It was a wonderful event, and I’m looking forward to Knoxville 2024!

I anticipate being able to take on a few more students
beginning in January. If you’re interested, please check out the work with me page and set up an Ask Me Anything session.

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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