Newsletter Fall 2009

A Letter from the President


Dear NATS Colleagues,

I wish you the warmest welcome as we usher in the 2009-2010 academic year. Reflecting on the past year, we have had many blessings, which began with minimal damage from Hurricane Ike, continued through a successful College Vocal Music Fair, two Spring Auditions with world-class clinicians composer Georgia Stitt and our chapter’s own Dr. Sharon Radionoff, and co-sponsoring a Master Class with Lotte Lehmann Foundation’s 2007 recipient of its annual World of Song Award, pianist and coach, John Wustman. Thank you for supporting these events! Please know how hard your GH NATS Board is working to ensure unique, stimulating and motivating experiences for our members and students annually!!

Here are some updates as we look forward to this year:

  • The time for our Winner’s Recital and Fall Business Meeting is upon us – please mark your calendars for Sunday, Oct 11th at 1:00. Location is the University of St. Thomas, in Cullen Hall. Following the Winner’s Recital will be our Fall Business Meeting at Black Labrador at 3:45!! Black Labrador is at 4100 Montrose Blvd very close to Cullen Hall.
  • Texoma NATS Regional Conference is around the corner, and it is my hope that those of us who are able to attend, will do so! The dates for this year’s Annual Regional Conference are November 5 – 7th on the campus of Texas Tech University. Be sure to see tenor Todd Miller, collaborative artist Jay Whatley, and soprano Marion Russell Dickson, who are presenting “Songs of Richard Faith: A Lecture Recital with Composer in Residence.”
  • GHNATS’ website has been fully functional for almost 1 year thanks to Discover Web Solutions. On the newest link Bulletin Board members can display productions to share with the public. Please email submissions to at least 2 weeks before the performances.
  • Our Chapter’s new Membership Liaison, Jody Haas, is the first to obtain this office in the region. Congratulations, Jody! Ms. Haas is very excited about her new office – be sure to read her article, which will fill us in on her job description.
  • Workshops include one Master Class with a Master Artist, and one hour Clinics during the Spring Auditions. The Board has discussed options of topics oriented to Performance Enrichment, Vocal Health, and Audition Techniques. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as confirmations are made!
  • GH NATS’ Annual College Vocal Music Fair will be taking a hiatus this year in efforts to reevaluate details of the event. All the past participating universities will be notified, and please look forward to future updates and improvements!
  • Copyright guidelines are being enforced from the National Level for every level of auditon. Please be aware of them, as described by Elisa Thompson in her Vice Presidential Article. These guidelines will be adhered to beginning January 2010.
  • SNATS Chapters are popping up all over the country, and even in our own Chapter!! These are Student NATS chapters, sponsored by “a Full or Associate NATS member in good standing.” If this is something that interests you, please see: Student Nats Chapters (SNATS).
  • RECRUIT for GH NATS! Please invite your colleagues to join our chapter – we gain immensely from each member’s prospective and experiences, and strive to offer many opportunities at both the membership and student level. Email Jody Haas with names of colleagues whom you would like to see invited to join!!
  • Hospitality Chair needed! Time required is minimal, and require hospitality for all GH NATS functions. Email if you are interested in this fun and necessary appointment.
  • Thank you to all the Board Members – each of you has contributed within this past year with such energy and vigor!! Know that each of you, while making the choice to participate at this level, helps create the positive, engaging, and innovative atmosphere for our chapter.
  • Vice Presidents and Chairperson’s articles below will touch upondetails concerning their offices. Please be sure to read them to gain information on deadlines for membership renewal and more!!

With deepest respect,

Marion Russell Dickson

President, Greater Houston Chapter of NATS
Faculty, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
University of St. Thomas
3800 Montrose
Houston, TX 77006
Work phone: 713-525-6906



Marion Russell-Dickson
Email 1Email 2


Elisa Thompson


Laura Avery


Melissa Givens




Debra Greschner


Jason Lester


Jody Haas

Past President Ex-Officio

Christopher Michel

From the Vice-President of Classical Auditions


I hope everything is going well for all of you with the start of the new school year!

Mark your calendars now, the annual Houston Chapter NATS Auditions have been set for Sat. April 10, 2010 at the Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston. You will be receiving entry forms around late January or early February. Our transition to making everything electronic is still undergoing some fine tuning, so look for announcements regarding registration on our website and in your email. Please be sure to update your email address on the membership form.

Elisa Thompson

Our Classical Auditions in the spring was a very successful audition and many things went very well. There were close to 285 students and 37 teachers participating. The University of Houston graciously hosted us and made opera tickets available to all the participants. This year’s auditions will coincide with the UH opera and tickets will be made available to everyone.

As we prepare for the Spring auditions we will be implementing the new Student Auditions guidelines as outlined by the National Organization. The new guidelines have strict rules regarding the use of copyrighted music. Beginning at the Spring auditions, accompanists will be required to play from original publications. Below is a quote from the guidelines from the National Auditions Committee:

The National Association of Teachers of Singing endorses a strict policy regarding copyright laws. The use of photocopied music is prohibited at all NATS sponsored events, from the national to the chapter level.

Exceptions are:

  • Music that is out of print, still under copyright law, with permission from a publisher.
  • Sheet music or books for which the copyright has expired, but available in CD format. (e.g., CD Sheet Music)

I understand that this is a departure from our past practices and will be difficult for many of us, but we are bound by these guidelines. I just wanted to give everyone a “heads up” regarding the use of photocopies at the auditions. There are a few other minor changes, but this change is the most influential for all of us. At the Fall meeting, I will have a chance to explain these changes further.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Fall Meeting in October-

Elisa Thompson

From the Winner's Recital Chair


Angela PickeringThe Greater Houston NATS Annual Winners’ Recital has been scheduled for Sunday, October 11 at 1:00 p.m. in Cullen Hall at the University of St. Thomas. This recital features students who won first place in both Classical and Musical Theater Auditions this past spring. Private teachers of the winners will soon receive an email that contains further details about the recital and that solicits programming information for each student.

Best Wishes~

Angela Pickering

Angela Pickering

From the Vice-President of Musical Theater Auditions


Planning is underway for this year’s Musical Theatre Auditions. Our audition date this year is Saturday, May 1, 2010. You may remember, from our lunch discussion last year, that this year we are charged to find a new venue for our MTR auditions. We are so very thankful to Beverly Laubach and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for serving as our host for the past two years. It will be difficult to find a location that accommodates our needs as well as that beautiful space. While several options have been explored, as of yet, nothing has been secured. More information regarding our venue will be forthcoming.

We were fortunate to have Georgia Stitt as our honored guest at last year’s event. We hope to offer a similar experience this year between the Preliminary Round and the Finals. We also hosted Dowling Music, a sheet music vendor, at last year’s event. If enough of you enjoyed having a music vendor on site last year to browse/shop during your break time, we can certainly explore a similar set up this year.

Laura Avery

Please forward your feedback to me regarding on site vendors or other suggestions you may have for this year’s event. This occasion exists to serve you and your students so your input is invaluable to me. My email address

I look forward to bringing you future updates regarding this worthwhile event~

Laura Avery

From the Chapter Secretary


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.

Chapter dues may now be paid through our website at The deadline for Chapter dues is October 15, 2009, and there is a $10.00 late fee for dues paid after that date. Please note that all GHNATS members must pay national NATS dues before renewing your local membership.

Teachers of spring auditions winners will receive a template regarding programming for the Winners’ Recital from Angela Pickering, who is planning the event.

Debra Greschner

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. Email is the preferred method of communication, both for immediacy and cost efficiency. Please indicate your preferred email address on your dues renewal form.

Best wishes for a productive year, and I look forward to seeing all of you at the Winner’s Recital.

Debra Greschner

Department of Music
Lamar University
P.O. Box 10044
Beaumont, TX 77707

From the Membership Liaison

Jody Haas

Hello GHNATS members!

I am very honored and excited about serving you in a new position as Membership Liaison. I will be available to hear your ideas, comments, and concerns and relate this information to the Board of Directors. I am also looking forward to serving as an advocate of recruitment for new members. If you know of people who might be interested in joining our chapter, please send me their names and email addresses and I will be happy to send them a letter of invitation. My email is I hope we will all be active in recruiting new members, as we have a lot to offer teachers of singing…workshops, student auditions, a database for advertisement and just general camaraderie! Ours is one of the largest local chapters in the nation and I am sure we are all proud of that.

Please do not hesitate to let me know how I can serve you effectively.


Jody Haas

Jody Haas

From the Treasurer


Dear Colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that I will be serving as the Treasurer for the upcoming year. I hope this newsletter finds you well as we are off on another exciting and productive year of teaching and singing.

As you may know, my duties include keeping accurate account of chapter finances, recording dues payments, notifying those of you that have not paid your dues, and paying all approved bills of the chapter. As is customary, I will also present financial report to you all at scheduled chapter Business Meetings.

Note that while I keep track of payments, membership dues and forms are completed online. The information on the online forms will be emailed by our web service directly to Debra Greschner, our chapter Secretary, and Jody Haas, our Membership Liaison. The PayPal information will be emailed to me directly.

Jason Lester

Remember, you need to pay your Local dues, as well as remain current in National dues, in order to enter students in chapter auditions in the spring. With that said, we appreciate your paying your dues on or before the Fall business meeting so that we have ample funds for hosting the variety of events our chapter provides.

I am honored to serve in this capacity for the GHNATS and thank you all for your continued participation in this very active and effective chapter.

Jason Lester

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 Standards
    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.