Newsletter Fall 2008

Letter From The President

Dear Membership,

I hope and pray that all of you are healthy and well now that Hurricane Ike has passed through our homes and schools. Despite the large amount of damage, and sadly, loss of life, we are very blessed to have survived this natural disaster with such grace! Please know each one of you, your families and students (and their families) have been in my prayers during this time. Diana Allen, our Texoma NATS Regional Governor, has conveyed the same thoughts and prayers for our membership as well. She brought to my awareness a NATS Member-to-Member program that was established after Hurricane Katrina which helps replace any music that was lost due to the storm. This is offered in special circumstances through the generosity of members throughout our National Level. Both Diana Allen and Allen Henderson, our NATS Executive Director, are wanting to help members through this program. Please contact me directly if you would like more information!

Below you will find the letter prepared for you before Ike – do read on. I am looking forward to seeing each of you at the College Vocal Music Fair (as scheduled), and also at our Business Meeting/Cocktail Party next month!

Welcome to the new school year of 2008 – 2009! On behalf of our entire chapter, I want to thank the officers who have served our chapter in the past. Christopher Michel, currently our Past President Ex-Officio, and our recent officers, as well as those who served before them, provided such leadership, motivation and encouragement for our GH NATS chapter to thrive! Now that I am in my new post as your President, I see firsthand the amazing responsibility and honor it is to be in this office. The Board is blessed with an amazing group of artists and intellectuals, which represents the essence of our entire chapter. Thank you for entrusting me with my current office. My role, according to our By-Laws, is such: “Preside at all meetings of the Chapter and present such matters as may properly come before the meeting. This office shall also be responsible for reporting information to the Regional Governor.” I pledge to do my very best to continue forward in the vein of our predecessors.

The Board has been working very hard towards several goals this year!! We are in the process of securing a web-site designer for our Chapter’s own website. More information will be forthcoming as it develops. I do urge you to update your biographies and make sure your headshots are updated (if need be). This information, and much more, will be available on our new site!

Our Vice-Presidents are working hard on preparing for their events this year, and the College Vocal Music Fair, held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, is around the corner: October 11, 2008! Many Board Members, along with Beverly Laubach and staff, are working hard to prepare for this event. It is sure to be a huge success!!!

  • Melissa Givens is setting up a Facebook link for those who may have students who communicate that way. ‘Friend’ her to get more information!!
  • Laura Avery has worked very hard on preparing Save-The-Date Postcards for the event, so be on the lookout for these as well!!
  • See Robin Cobb and Jody Haas’ article for more detailed information on our Fourth Annual CVMF!!
  • I urge each member to attend this amazing event, and to strongly encourage your students and families to attend!!

Our Winner’s Recital will also be held on October 11, 2008, at St. Luke’s. Angela Pickering is the Winner’s Recital Chairperson, and will be coordinating the Recital. Please be on the lookout for communication from her as the time approaches! All teachers who had a first place winner need to begin preparing their student(s) to sing at the Winner’s Recital, which begins at 1:30pm. A small reception will follow the Recital for the students, their families, and those who are present.

Our Fall Business Meeting will be held on Saturday, October 25th, at 6:30pm. We will have a Business Meeting/Cocktail Hour at The Tasting Room Wine Café at River Oaks. This event promises to be a grand time, first for business, and then for socializing! There are many events and occasions that compete for our time – I warmly invite all of you to allow for this special time of our own! Come on out and have a fabulous evening, and we will keep you posted on the details via email as the date approaches!! See the add placed further down in our newsletter for details…

Please be sure to renew your membership for this year. You will receive an email from our Secretary with a form attached. Please fill out the form and send it to her, along with the membership fee. When filling out the form, please discern on which committee you would like to serve. As our chapter’s events grow, we are in need of members who can help participate in the planning and execution of events. Thank you, in advance, for your participation!

The dues and membership form are due for all of us on October 15, 2008. This is very important – the late fee of $10.00 that was voted upon last spring will now be in effect. FYI, when new members join the chapter at any time during the year, providing they have joined the National Level, there is no late fee. Please do consider inviting your colleagues who are not yet members to join us!

The NATS 50th National Conference was held this past summer in Nashville! We want to herald the success of Dr. Laurie Lester, who, with collaborative artist Dr. Shannon Hesse, won second place at the NATSAA Competition!! Also to be highly recognized are the members from our chapter who were presenters at the National Conference: Dr. Dawn Padula, Donna Hinds, and Laurie Lee Cosby. Congratulations to you all!!

Enjoy reading about the articles from our other Officers, and have an amazing and exciting school year!! I look forward to continuing our work together, and hope to see you soon. Let us continue to encourage each other in the spirit of collaboration and glorious music making!

Marion Russell Dickson
GH NATS President 2008-2010

Report from the Past President Ex-Officio

Submitted By Chirstopher Michel

Dear Colleagues,

The time has come for us to welcome our new President, Marion Russell-Dickson.

Before I do, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for four wonderful years as your President. I also want to thank all of you who have served our professional association. Every act of service at any level is what keeps our Association alive and well. Please continue your service and encourage others to join you as chapter officers. My gift to serve our chapter has enriched my relationships with each of you and benefited me in more ways than you can possibly know.

I hope you will take the time to get to know Marion and the new NATS board of directors. It was great fun to attend the board’s meeting in August. Your new board of officers has great new ideas and a breath of fresh energy. I am so excited about what they have planned in the months to come. I hope you will take the time to encourage and support each officer just as you have done for me over the past six years. You have a fantastic new President who is eager to lead us with enthusiasm and vigor.

Marion Russell Dickson, soprano, holds a Master of Music Degree in Performance and Literature and a Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College. Ms. Dickson is the First Place Helen Boatwright Award Recipient of the 2000 Civic Morning Musical Competition held in Syracuse, New York. Public performances as a soloist across the country include locations such as Houston, Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rochester, New York, Charleston, West Virginia, Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City.

Ms. Dickson enjoys performing soloist works in oratorios, operas, and recital settings. Her experiences as a soloist include Haydn’s The Creation, Bach’s Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, Mozart’s Vesperare solennes de confessore, Handel’s Messiah, DuBois’ Seven Last Words of Christ, and Mozart’s Requiem, among others. Operatic and light opera appearances include the title role in the Eastman Opera Theatre’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, in which Opera News noted Marion Russell Dickson as one of four standout performers, noting: “Marion Russell’s clarion Patience…” She also portrayed Céile in Signor Deluso, Jennie in Opera Rochester’s production of Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley, as well as singing Lakmé in the famous duet by Delibes under conductor David Gilbert with the Eastman Philharmonia.

The Song Recital setting is close to Ms. Dickson’s heart, having worked this repertoire with coaches such as Dalton Baldwin, Thomas Jaber, Benton Hess, Dr. Russell Miller, Dr. J.J. Penna, and others. Ms. Dickson also enjoys collaborating with contemporary composers, and traveled to New York City to work with composer Robert Baksa on his settings of Sara Teasdale poems, which resulted in a private premier of these works for the composer. In May 2007 Ms. Dickson performed the Houston Premiere of Chasms, a cycle of nine songs composed for her by composer Randolph Partain. As a lover of Sacred Music, Ms. Dickson, as a part of the Aquinas Ensemble, recently participated in performing a Concert of Sacred Music in the mesmerizing Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas, in Houston, Texas.

Collegiate teaching experiences for Ms. Dickson include teaching Studio Voice, Diction, Master Classes, Opera Workshop, Art Song Literature, and other music courses at institutions such as the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, Lone Star College-Kingwood and Lone Star College-Montgomery in greater Houston, Houghton College in Houghton, New York, Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, and Eastman School of Music (Graduate Assistant).

Spring 2008 began Ms. Dickson’s exciting appointment at the University of Saint Thomas, in the Arts District of Houston. Ms. Dickson also continues to maintain a private studio in Kingwood, where she lives with her husband, musician and educator Chris Dickson, and their children. Marion Russell Dickson is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and currently serves as President for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS.

Report from the VPs for College Vocal Music Fair

Submitted by Jody Haas and Robin Cobb, Fourth GHNAT College Vocal Music Fair, October 11, 2008, 9:00AM - 2:30PM, St. Luke's United Methodist Churc, 3741 Westheimer, Houston

Calling all GHNATS Members and Vocal Instructors:

The success of this event depends on YOU promoting this Houston College Vocal Music Fair to your high school students!!! Please help us get the word out to the high school choir directors in your area and your students!! An Opportunity for your students to meet College Voice Teachers and Choir Directors from across the Southwestern US!

  • Have you ever wished for a college recruiting event just for vocal musicians? An event where all the representatives have specific information about majoring in music?
  • Have you ever known promising high school vocalists who chose not to study music in college because their family had negative ideas about music study … and didn’t get the right information at the right time?
  • Have you wished for an open forum for young musicians and their families to hear about the vital importance of pursuing one’s passions in life?
  • Have you longed for the opportunity for your students to speak to college representatives who actually know about the audition process, the various degrees available, and (hold on to your hats!) the jobs that are available to students with a music degree?

On Saturday, October 11th, 2008 St. Luke’s UMC Fine Arts and the Greater Houston National Association of Teachers of Singing (GHNATS) will co-sponsor the fourth annual College Vocal Music Fair. The purpose of the event will be to provide a forum for serious high school vocal musicians and their families to talk with choir directors and voice teachers from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana colleges as well as any other colleges choosing to attend.

This year’s event is free from conflicts with District and Region Choir Competitions, so we hope to have triple the number of students attending that we had last year; and we are recruiting directly to local high school students in FULL force this year!!!! We expect to have an enormously successful turnout!!!

The event will begin at 8:30am with setting up procedures for the collegiate representatives, and we are offering breakfast this year for all students, parents and college representatives that will begin at 9:00 a.m. At this time parents and students will be invited to converse with the various college representatives in the Fellowship Hall. The Panel Dicsussion will commence at 10:00am with representatives from various colleges, and a question/answer session will follow from 10:40 -10:55am. Recruiting will continue from 11:00am – 12:00 noon. Lunch will be provided at 12:30pm for the college representatives. Each GHNATS member also wanting to attend the luncheon must RSVP to Nicole Franklin so the correct amount of food will be ordered. Lunch will be $10.00, with beverage included.

The GHNATS Chapter Business Meeting will NOT be held this day as in the past. We will conclude the day with our GHNATS Winner’s Recital at 1:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. There will be a short reception just outside the Sanctuary afterwards for our Winners and their families.

The success of this event depends upon our local high school choir directors and voice teachers. Please tell your students about this event and talk to their families about the importance of coming by during the day. Contact high school choir directors in your area and ask them to promote the event with their choirs. Flyers will be available at the beginning of the fall semester. For more information, please contact Jody Haas at

Report from the VP of Workshops

Submitted By Melissa Givens

This article is really a place-holder for next year. For a variety of reasons, the Executive Board felt that the Chapter’s resources would be better served by not having a workshop this year. Instead, we are putting our heads together to make next year’s workshop worth the wait.

We will keep you posted on our progress and the date, as soon as it is secured.

I am also supposed to tell you a little bit about my role on the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS Executive Board. As Vice-President for Workshops, I am supposed to (surprise!) organize and execute workshops for the chapter. Another duty is to assist the President in meetings and preside over meetings in the President’s absence. Let’s hope that Madame President continues her perfect attendance record!

Have a great start to the year, and watch this space…

Report from the VP of Audition

Submitted By Elisa Thompson

Hello! I hope that you all enjoyed your summer. Hopefully, everything is going well for you with the start of the new school year.

Please mark your calendars now: the annual Houston Chapter NATS Classical Auditions have been set for Saturday, March 28, 2009 at the Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston. You will be receiving entry forms around late January or early February.

As you know last spring we went to a 2-day audition schedule, splitting the Music Theater and Classical division auditions into two separate audition days. The Musical Theatre Auditions were held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. There were over 100 participants that day. The auditions were very successful. This year Dr. Laura Avery will be handling the Musical Theatre auditions. They will be held on a different day than the Classical auditions.

The Classical auditions were held at the Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston and went very smoothly. We had over 250 students register for the auditions. Holding the MT and Classical auditions on separate days has made organizing and preparing for the auditions much easier.

The Board is open to your suggestions and comments about the Houston NATS Chapter Spring Auditions. Our hope is that it will be a good experience for all of our students.

Have a great semester.

Elisa Thompson

Report from the VP of Musical Theatre Auditions

Submitted By Laura Avery

Hello NATS Colleagues,

This is your VP of Musical Theatre Auditions Laura Avery hoping you are finding yourself ready to jump into this upcoming fall semester! I am thrilled to assume this position on the Board for our Chapter. I truly believe that holding two audition dates this last spring for our membership made both events highly successful for us and our students. Thank you for your willingness to try new things and go in different directions! And special thanks to Elisa Thompson for serving as VP for both events! Thanks to this new position, no one will ever have to do that again!

My position is new to our Board but my responsibilities look very similar to those of Elisa, who is serving once again as our spring auditions VP. I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the direction our musical theatre auditions are heading. At our lunch time during January’s auditions, we engaged in some informal dialogue regarding the audition date. An overwhelming number of us in attendance discerned that the first Saturday in May would be the best time to hold our musical theatre auditions. To that end, I have set the date for our next musical theatre auditions on May 2, 2009. We are privileged to once again have the use of St. Luke’s Methodist Church for this event, Thank you Beverly! I am working to secure some exciting outside judges as well as securing some vendors/sponsors to be on site for our students to purchase literature and share their headshot/resumes with musical theatre professionals from the Houston area.

It is my hope that I can share more exciting information in our next newsletter. Mark your calendars and spread the word to your high school, college, and adult musical theatre singers. It’s going to be a great even.

Report from the Secretary

Submitted By Debra Greschner

I am pleased to serve as the Secretary for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS. As secretary, I am responsible for membership renewals, as well as other communications to the Chapter membership.

In the next week, you will receive an email with a membership renewal form. The deadline for Chapter dues is October 15, 2008. Please complete the form and send it, with a check made payable to Greater Houston NATS, to me at the address below. The form is critical because it updates contact information. Note that all GHNATS members must pay national NATS dues before renewing your local membership. Although the form is forthcoming, please send any updated e-mail addresses to me directly at

In addition, teachers of spring auditions winners will receive a template regarding programming for the Winners’ Recital on October 11 from Angela Pickering, who is planning the event.

The primary responsibility of the Secretary is communication, so please contact me regarding upcoming events, or anything else that you would like to share with the membership.

Best wishes for a productive year, and I look forward to seeing all of you at the College Vocal Music Fair and Winner’s Recital on October 11th at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

Debra Greschner
Department of Music, Theatre & Dance
Lamar University
P.O. Box 10044
Beaumont, TX 77707

Report from the Treasurer

Submitted By Dawn Padula

I certainly hope this finds everyone well. Summer was a welcome break, and now it’s time for a busy yet productive fall.

I am pleased to serve the chapter once again in the capacity of Treasurer. As you all may know, my duties include keeping an accurate account of all chapter finances, keeping track of dues payments, notifying those of you that have not paid your dues that you need to pay them, and paying all approved bills of the chapter. As is customary, I will also present a financial report to you all at scheduled chapter Business Meetings.

Do note that though I keep track of payments, the yearly membership dues and forms should be sent directly to Debra Greschner, our new chapter Secretary, by October 15th. She will be sending membership renewal forms via e-mail, on which there will be an address to where you should send everything (forms and membership checks).

Remember, you need to pay your Local dues, as well as being current in your National dues, in order to enter your students in chapter auditions in the spring. But, as the active year for us begins now, we appreciate you taking care of your Local dues payments on or before October 15th so that we have ample funds for hosting the College Vocal Music Fair, for the construction of our new website, and for preparation for auditions.

I look forward to a great year! Thank you all for your continued participation in this very active and effective chapter.

Here is the Code of Ethics for NATS.
Let’s all re-read it and carefully uphold the standard to which we are committed.
Code of Ethics of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc.

New Code of Ethics approved by the NATS Board of Directors in June, 2006, and accepted by the membership in December, 2006. This Code of Ethics is established by NATS in order that its members may understand more clearly their ethical duties and obligations to their students, other teachers, and the general public, as well as to promote cooperation and good fellowship among the members.

  1. Personal Ethical Standard:
    1. Members will strive to teach with competence through study of voice pedagogy, musicianship, and performance skills.
    2. Members will present themselves honestly, in a dignified manner, and with documented qualifications: academic degrees, professional experience, or a combination of both.
    3. Members will faithfully support the Association and are encouraged to participate in its activities.
  2. Ethical Standards Relating to Students
    1. Members will respect the personal integrity and privacy of students unless the legal or academic system requires disclosure.
    2. Members will treat each student in a dignified and impartial manner.
    3. Members will clearly communicate all expectations of their studios including financial arrangements.
    4. Members will respect the student’s right to obtain instruction from the teacher of his/her choice.
    5. Members will offer their best voice and music instruction and career advice to all students under their instruction. They will complete the full number of lessons and amount of time paid for by each student in accordance with studio policies.
    6. Members will not make false or misleading statements regarding a student’s hopes for a career or guarantees of performances or favorable contracts.
  3. Ethical Standards Relating to Colleagues
    1. Members will refrain from making false claims regarding themselves or their students and from making false or malicious statements about colleagues or their students.
    2. Members will not, either by inducements, innuendoes, or other acts, proselytize students of other teachers.
    3. Members will render honest and impartial adjudication at NATS auditions and/or NATS competitions and students will not be requested to disclose names of present or former teachers until after the event.
    4. Members will disclose at NATS events the name of a student’s previous voice teacher if the student has studied with the current teacher for less than eight months.
    5. When a member’s expertise warrants collaboration, members will work collegially with other professionals (i.e., voice therapists, speech pathologists, and medical practitioners).
    6. Rules and regulations of any accredited academic institution take precedence over the NATS Code of Ethics, should there be a conflict.

Newsletter collected and submitted by Jason Lester

GHNATS Newsletter Coordinator

You are warmly invited to our Fall 2008 Business Meeting and Cocktail Hour!!

  • Date: Saturday, October 25th, 2008
  • Time: 6:30pm
  • Location: The Tasting Room, in the River Oaks Centre
  • Address: 2409 West Alabama St., Houston, Texas 77098 (At the intersection of Kirby and West Alabama streets)

An E-vite will be sent to the membership – please be sure to RSVP! See you soon!!