Follow this link for preliminary information on our NATS Boston Spring Events. We have some exciting master classes on the schedule, be sure to sign up your students.
This past weekend we heard some amazing voices at the NATS Boston Student Auditions at Boston Conservatory in Boston, MA. Please take a look at our Student Auditions Menu tab for the final results and/or follow the link to our Student Auditions website for even more information on this wonderful event. We will be posting photos on FB and here in the coming days. Congratulations to all the participants and especially to our winners.
by Eric Anderson Jr., NATS Boston Treasurer
Anyone else already Christmas-ed out, even in the first week of December?
I imagine a great many of us are in the final countdown to our winter programs, and putting the finishing touches on countless student renditions of “Once Upon a December”.
Selecting winter-themed repertoire consistently proves to be one of my greatest challenges. How to stay seasonal, but also pedagogically useful? How to represent multiple traditions, without resorting to tokenism? And, perhaps most important, how to keep things fresh, year after year, for you, your students, and your audience?
So, every year as early autumn sets in, I make a special effort to find songs I’ve never heard before – songs that will change things up, present the students with a new challenge, and expose the audience to some lesser known jewels of the season.
A couple of recent screen-to-stage adaptations offer possibilities like:
A Christmas Story: The Musical (Pasek & Paul), “Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana”–This upbeat number perfectly captures the breathless anticipation of Christmas Eve and Santa’s inevitable arrival. Very wordy, but rewarding – particularly with rhymes like “zooming into Bloomington” (which just warms my Hoosier heart).
Elf: The Musical (Sklar & Beguelin), “There is a Santa Claus” – Another fast-paced number, with a wide vocal range. There are some tricky key changes, but it’s a great showcase number for a young belter.
More often than not, it’s in the world of pop and rock that I’ve found some of the most rewarding material – songs that easily fit any winter-themed program, without being holiday-specific. Additionally, these songs have proven useful for spurring student creativity – rather than try to simply imitate the original versions, I get to explore with my students how to craft unique, individual interpretations.
“Winter Song” (Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson) – Spanning just an octave, with a lot of repeated notes, it’s perfectly manageable for younger students with a limited range and developing their pitch accuracy.
“Song For a Winter’s Night” (Gordon Lightfoot) – This little gem, with short, straightforward phrases, has also been great for my younger singers who are expanding their upper range.
“Snow” (The Staves) – A chill song that’s stylistically flexible, it spends a significant amount in the lower register – great for getting my student to find the “speech” quality in that part of her voice (also, since only a chord chart was available online, instead of proper sheet music, learning the song turned into an impromptu ear-training exercise!).
I’ve also had success with tunes like Joni Mitchell’s “River”, Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather”, and Tori Amos’s “Snow Angel”.
And, of course, there are a wealth of jazz standards to choose from. My number-one favorite in that category will always be “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” – which I’ve used this year to convince one of my singers that she can, in fact, improvise – but tunes like “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “Seven Shades of Snow” offer some fabulous melodic terrain for your more sophisticated singers.
This all is just a small sampling of what I’ve found over the last couple of years – and even that, I’m sure, is barely scratching the surface of what’s out there. But I hope it’s spurred your own imagination for this season and beyond!
All the songs mentioned here, and many other off-the-beaten-path winter tunes, can be found on Spotify here.
We are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2017 NATS Boston Student Auditions, which will take place March 18 and 19 at Boston Conservatory.
There have been some changes for 2017, the largest of which is that preliminary rounds for the College and Recreational Divisions will now be held ONLINE!
Check out our informational video from Vice President Julie Krugman detailing these changes
Then head over to http://
It’s that time of the year again. Here is Brendan Buckley, NATS Boston Membership Chair, with more information:
Application submissions for Dr. Karen Leigh-Post’s master class on November 6th have been extended until Thursday, November 3, 2016. Click here for the application form.
We are thrilled to announce two exciting presentations for this Fall. The Brain, Music and Optimal Performance by Dr. Karen Leigh-Post on November 6, 2016 and The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice by Dr. Ian Howell on November 16, 2016. We hope to see you there.
NATS Boston Teachers: Please submit your classical or musical theater students for the chance to participate in Dr. Leigh-Post’s FREE November 6th Masterclass.
Submissions due by Sunday, October 23rd. Click here for the application form.
The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance—A NATS Boston/New England Conservatory Residency
Who: Dr. Karen Leigh-Post, Faculty of Lawrence University
When: Sunday, November 6th, 2016, 2:30-7:30pm
Where: Pierce Hall, The New England Conservatory of Music, 241 St. Botolph Street, Boston, MA 02115
Cost: FREE and open to the public
Public Lecture (2:30-4:30pm): The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance
This clear yet delightfully quick-paced introduction to cognitive neuroscience for the voice studio nimbly weaves together discoveries in neuroscience with the experience of vocal artistry to show how singing can be viewed as a perception-action cycle. From the outset, practical application exercises demystify how the conscious mind integrates with unconscious sensory and motor processes to unleash our body’s intelligence to produce optimal and even peak performance in the expressive and artistic endeavor we know as singing. Through this further expansion of voice science and pedagogy into the field of cognitive neuroscience, singers learn to take charge, to mindfully integrate their audio-motor intentions with expert motor response. The teacher becomes equipped to better understand optimal flow of information, where disruption may occur, and how to guide the student in setting the right goal for the task of the moment — to get the thinking right.
Masterclass (5:30-7:30pm): The Application of Cognitive Neuroscience for the Teacher of Singing
We invite students of NATS Boston teachers to submit an application to sing for this masterclass. The application for classical or musical theater students of NATS Boston teachers is available here, and is due by Sunday, October 23rd.
About Dr. Karen Leigh-Post
Karen Leigh-Post, DMA is on the faculty of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has engaged in interdisciplinary studies with notable innovators in singing-acting, movement, and performance psychology throughout her performing and teaching career. Her extensive study of the interaction of the mind and body includes cognitive neuroscience and functional anatomy. Dr. Leigh-Post’s research presentations at National Association of Teachers of Singing conferences (2010 and 2012) and at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Australia (2013) have been described as “charming, amusing, but dispensing valuable information every second” (Shirlee Emmons), and “whimsical, intelligent, practical and brilliantly communicated” (Pat Wilson). Her publications include an Anthology of Art Song for the Sacred Service featuring works by contemporary American composers (Classical Vocal Reprints) and the recently released Mind-Body Awareness for Singers: Unleashing Optimal Performance (Plural Publishing, Inc.).
Leigh-Post earned a doctorate of musical arts under the tutelage of master teacher Shirlee Emmons at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, is a two-time winner of both the District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and regional Outstanding Mezzo Award, and has sung various lead roles in the US and abroad. Critics described Ms. Leigh’s Carmen as “a very attractive heroine with a striking mezzo soprano” and commended the “well-formed supple lines of her Venus” (Tannhäuser), and her dramatic portrayal of Maria Callas (Master Class) was heralded as “brilliant in her depth of character.” Dr. Leigh-Post is also pleased to note that alumni from her studio enjoy active careers, performing with notable opera companies, symphonies, and vocal ensembles such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and Chanticleer.
For more information, please visit: https://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/faculty/karen_leigh-post
The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice
Who: Dr. Ian Howell, Faculty of The New England Conservatory of Music
When: Wednesday, November the 16th, 7-8:30pm
Where: Jordan Hall 367 (Carr Room), The New England Conservatory of Music, Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Cost: FREE and open to the public (seating limited, please arrive early).
Public Lecture with Question and Answer Period (7-8:30pm): The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice
The manner in which vocal tract resonances interact with vocal source harmonics is perhaps the most important aspect of acoustic science to be under-utilized by voice teachers. Many of the phenomena it describes in objective detail—including dependably resonant singing and effective vowel modification and substitution—were guided subjectively by ear and intuition for centuries prior to the development of spectrographic visualization technology. Despite the notable efforts of many voice scientists and pedagogues, and the earnest desire on the part of curious voice teachers, the practical application of resonance/harmonic interactions remains beyond the grasp of most. I believe that this is due, at least in part, to the manner in which these interactions are currently presented in the vocal pedagogy literature—based on the model of the spectral envelope of speech-level vowels (the implied line connecting the peaks of the harmonics of the voice). Within the context of the spectral envelope model, we are invited to consider the simultaneous importance of both the fundamental pitch and also various clusters of high frequency harmonics with no practical mechanism (beyond vague terms like “warm,” “bright,” “core,” “metallic,” etc…) for understanding the way in which they influence one another and integrate into our all-at-once experience of a vowel. The spectral envelope model—and the vowel graphs of average speech-level first and second formant locations found in most vocal pedagogy textbooks—may become a conceptual bottleneck without practical aural significance.
Ongoing psychoacoustic research conducted in the New England Conservatory’s Voice and Sound Analysis Lab suggests that the concept of the spectral envelope itself may cease to serve singers above a certain pitch, that the harmonics of the voice may be productively parsed into multiple hallucinated units of vowel-like timbre that the brain paradoxically localizes in the space of the fundamental pitch, and that a well-registered voice may be characterized by the manner in which these units of timbre change (or disappear entirely) as pitch ascends. This presentation introduces simple psychoacoustic concepts regarding timbre perception, utilizes affordable software to quickly demonstrate how the various parts of a vowel’s spectral envelope may separately contribute to the vowel’s overall character, offers clear ear-training exercises to refine our ability to perceive the voice (and aurally locate the actual fundamental harmonic), and suggests new predictive and nuanced visual and aural models for teaching resonances and registration in the vocal pedagogy classroom.
About Dr. Ian Howell
Praised by the New York Daily News for his “rich voice, capable of great dramatic force,” and San Francisco Classical Voice for the “heart at the core of his soulful sound,” Ian Howell sings with a warm and seamless tone rarely heard from countertenors. He has sung with Florentine Opera, New York City Opera, and Opera London, and with most major North American baroque orchestras. Especially sought after in the works of Bach and Handel, Dr. Howell has recorded for the American Bach Soloists, Warner Classics, Rhino, and Gothic labels. His debut solo CD, 1685 and the Art of Ian Howell with The American Bach Soloists features repertory by Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, and G.F. Handel. He can also be heard with the all male chamber choir Chanticleer on one DVD and eight CDs, including the GRAMMY AWARD winning Lamentations and Praises and the GRAMMY nominated Our American Journey. Dr. Howell holds degrees in music from Yale and Capital Universities, and the New England Conservatory of Music where he currently teaches voice and vocal pedagogy and directs research in the NEC Voice and Sound Analysis Laboratory. He has presented his original research—which focuses on practical applications of a timbre-based framework for hearing vocal registration events—at both the Pan American Vocology Association’s international symposium (2015) and the NATS national convention (2016).
For more information, please visit: http://necmusic.edu/faculty/ian-howell
Save the Date!!
Please join us for our annual Summer BBQ at Noel’s house in Lynnfield MA. Come meet your fellow teachers and Board members. Come here our plans for the year and events that will be coming your way! Oh, and come for the great food and drinks!!
Sunday, August 14th
4 – 7 pm
Hosted by Noel Smith, President of the Boston Chapter of NATS
NATS-Boston is happy to announce that out of the hundreds of students who auditioned in the NATS National Student Auditions, we have 5 students from our local chapter who have progressed to the National Semi-Final Round. These students will compete along with the other National Semi-Finalists in their division at the NATS National Conference in Chicago on July 9 & 10, 2016. We congratulate our amazing NATS-Boston Student and their teachers!
High School Musical Theater Women Division
Caitlyn Burns, student of Noel Smith
Zan Berube, student of Noel Smith
High School Classical Men Division
Benedict Hensley, student of Julie Krugman
Christopher LaMountain, student of Julie Krugman
Upper College Musical Theater Men Division
Sean Kaiser, student of Eva Kendrick
In response to membership feedback after the Student Auditions in 2015/2016 we have made a few changes for 2016/2017. We hope that all of these changes will make for a positive experience for both teachers and students moving forward. Please contact Auditions Chair, Julie Krugman, with more questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) We have moved the auditions to Spring in order to give teachers and students more time to prepare for the fun!
2) We have eliminated the Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Division from the District Auditions. Look for more CCM Programming from NATS-Boston in the future!
3) We have moved ALL preliminary round auditions for College and Recreational Divisions on-line. Students will be able to apply via YAP Tracker, and will receive written feedback on their video submissions, just as they would from a live preliminary round.
The deadline for submission of preliminary round videos is TBA. College and Recreational students will sing live auditions for the semi-final and final rounds only. Teachers in the College & Recreational Divisions may be asked to judge preliminary rounds on-line, but will not be required to judge in person on Sunday, March 19th.
4) High School and Junior Division teachers will still be asked to participate as judges for the preliminary rounds on Saturday, March 18th – so please plan accordingly.
Save the Dates:
Saturday, March 18, 2017
**Junior Musical Theater Division: Preliminary & Semi-Final Rounds (10:00AM start) **High School Musical Theater & Classical: Preliminary & Semi-Final Rounds (10:00AM start)
Sunday, March 19, 2017
**College Musical Theater & Classical: Semi-Final & Final Rounds (1:30PM start, 6:00PM Finals Concert)
**Recreational Musical Theater & Classical: Semi-Final & Final Rounds (1:30PM start, 6:00PM Finals Concert)
**Junior Musical Theater: Finals Concert 6:00PM
**High School Musical Theater & Classical: Finals Concert 6:00PM
Boston Conservatory Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop July 14-17th.
This year the Boston Conservatory will hold the 6th annual Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop with over 140 participants to from all over the world to date. The workshop is an intensive of Anatomy and Physiology, Voice Diagnosis, Vocal Health, Classical and Musical Theater Voice Pedagogies, Breathing for Singing, and Repertoire. This year we would like to have the NATS-Boston submit their high school level singers (ages 14-18) in both Classical and Musical Theater genres to participate in a Masterclass with Rebecca Folsom and Kevin Wilson on Saturday, July 16th at 8pm in Seully Hall. Students who are interested must submit a video of 1 song in the genre of their choice to KWilson@BostonConservatory.edu by May 1st, 2016. 2 students will be selected for musical theater and 2 students for classical voice with 1 potential alternate. Teachers of the students selected will received a $150 discount to attend the Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop. Additionally we would like to extend a welcome to any NATS-Boston members and their students who would like to attend the Masterclass with a 10% discount on the workshop.
Another discount for the Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop ($150.00) is also available for NATS-Boston voice teachers who have students attending the Vocal Choral Institute, and the Summer Dance Intensive. Please have those teachers contact KWilson@BostonConservatory.edu