Newsletter Fall 2011

A Letter from the President


Dear NATS colleagues and prospective new members,

On behalf of the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS, I extend my warmest welcome. I am so excited about this upcoming year and what GHNATS is doing for our community of singers. I’d like to start by looking back at a great 2010/11. We, GHNATS, brought the College Vocal Music Fair (CVMF) back with much success, in addition to offering the Winners’ Recital, workshops, and of course our wonderful spring auditions. We have a terrific board in place and plans are being solidified for another spectacular year! The articles that follow will detail our upcoming events.

I’d like to introduce you to a few new board members. Amanda Waites now serves as a Co-Vice President of the College Vocal Music Fair. She is doing a fantastic job as she and Paul Busselberg have hit the ground running to finalize the plans for what is sure to be an invaluable event for the students within our chapter. More information can be found in their article within this newsletter. Another wonderful addition to our board is Shannon Langman, serving as Membership Liaison. She has brought many wonderful ideas to the board in regards to this office and her passion to serve in this capacity is evident. I am so grateful to both of these ladies for their commitment to GHNATS and the enthusiasm they bring to their specific offices.

Jason Lester

As you will see in this newsletter, GHNATS has much to offer. Our first event for the year will take place on October 15, 2011 at Houston Baptist University, where we will host the College Vocal Music Fair, Winners’ Recital, and business meeting. Debbie Siebert is our Winners’ Recital chair and will be coordinating that event. If you had a first place winner at the Musical Theater or Classical Auditions this past spring, please plan to have your student participate in this honors recital. One of the items to be discussed at our business meeting is our survey results. Thank you to those who participated in the survey as it has provided valuable information to the board as we make plans for the year.

When you visit our website (, you will discover that it has been significantly updated. We now have a Facebook page, which will enhance communication with our membership. Additionally, we have changed the tab “Bulletin Board” to “Members’ Events.” I encourage you to forward me any events or performances you would like to promote or advertise on our website. Our membership list has been updated, as well as our archives. We also have a new tab dedicated to joining our chapter titled “How to join.” This tab will include the membership form and the PayPal link. It is our intention to make the process as clear and efficient as possible. Membership has officially opened for 2011/12 and the fee is $30. The membership fee increases to $40 beginning October 17, 2011. We have a wonderful promotion to offer you in case saving $10 is not enticing enough. Everyone who joins by October 16, 2011 will be entered in a contest to win a free web site provided by our webmaster, Rosendo Reyna! I hope you take advantage of this opportunity.

It is my sincere wish that you will find your membership with GHNATS rewarding and enjoyable. I encourage you to make every effort to involve yourself with our activities and events. Our intentions are to serve, equip, and encourage teachers of singing through a variety of methods. We all greatly benefit from your active participation.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or any board member. Once again, thank you for joining us and we look forward to a fantastic year.

Welcome to GHNATS!


From the Vice-President of Classical Auditions


It’s time to mark your calendars once again for the GHNATS Classical Auditions which have been scheduled for Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston. We enjoyed a successful event last spring with 34 teachers registering 198 students. It was very nice to have new teachers involved in these auditions, as well as those who had returned after a hiatus. Also, I’d like to offer a huge “thank you” to all involved in making the auditions successful, especially those who came early to help with hospitality and set-up.

This year, there will be an earlier start for online registration, allowing plenty of time for teachers to make arrangements with students and gather the necessary information. We plan to update the website with registration forms and information by January 15, with a registration deadline of March 9. In the months ahead, look for announcements regarding registration on our website as well as in your email. If you have changed your contact information, please be sure to update your email address on the membership form.

Angela Pickering

There are a few things that I would like to bring to everyone’s attention in advance of the registration process. First, please reference the repertoire requirements for the various categories prior to selecting pieces for your students to present at the auditions. Specifically, note the requirement of an English art song. In previous years, we made exceptions to accept arias in English to fulfill this requirement, but with this advanced notice given to the membership, we will no longer stretch the interpretation of the guidelines. Also, there has been some discussion about the difficulty of finding different accompanists for the separate categories (High School, College/Graduate, and Adult). This year, we will combine the finals for high school and adult divisions, so to allow for an overlap of accompanists in those categories only. If this still results in a problem for teachers to find multiple accompanists, please contact me, as I will be happy to provide a list of accompanists in each division who have not reached the maximum of ten students. Lastly, please make sure to include current email information for each of your accompanists, as it make it much easier to contact them with the updated audition day information and schedules.

Be sure to check the website on January 15, 2012 for all of the details pertaining to the auditions. And, of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Angela Pickering
Classical Auditions Chair

From the Vice-President of Theatre Auditions


For the last ten years I have been the Director of Bridges Academy at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church where I am privileged to serve on the Fine Arts staff as both a conductor and administrator. I also teach voice through the academy, so you could say that I get to wear three hats in this great job, hopefully not simultaneously!

I have been a member of NATS since sometime in the early 80’s – yes, I’m an old timer. Through the years I’ve been a member of the Phoenix chapter, the Rio Grande chapter and the Greater Houston chapter, where I’ve served as President and District Governor. NATS has always been a huge part of my professional life and provides many activities that are central to my studio. One of these is the Music Theater Auditions, which it is currently my privilege to chair. I don’t consider myself a specialist in music theater, but tend to use that repertoire as one segment of what I teach my students, attempting to give them a “balanced” diet of musical styles! This year we will hold music theater auditions again, but the date and place have not yet been set. So, I will be in touch about that, In the meantime I would love to hear your suggestions and thoughts.

Beverly Laubach

Here are results of Music Theater auditions:

  • 9th Grade Girls: Mattie Davis, student of Shannon Langman
  • 10th Grade Girls: Tie: Kelsey Pearson, student of Robin Cobb; Erin Granberry, student of Beverly Laubach
  • 9th & 10th Grade Boys: Keenan Hurley, student of Bob Collett
  • 11th & 12th Grade Girls: Kristen Del Bosque, student of Robin Cobb
  • 11th & 12th Grade Boys: Ian Hill, student of Frankie Hickman
  • College Division: Brittany Loutfi, student of Paul Busselberg
  • Adult Division: Ronna Mansfield, student of Robin Cobb

Regarding the 2011 College Vocal Music Fair


The GHNATS chapter is pleased to once again offer a College Vocal Music Fair this fall. Last year’s event was a tremendous success; our students and their families had the opportunity to make significant connections with voice faculty members representing local and regional colleges and universities. All who attended benefitted from two additional presentations, including a session on new vocal resources by our very own Debra Greschner, as well as a roundtable discussion on how to prepare for a college vocal audition. The day finished with a terrific Winner’s Recital which showcased many of our talented singers from the spring Classical and Musical Theater auditions.

We look forward to another successful event this year! Please mark your calendars for Saturday, October 15, and plan to attend the 2011 College Vocal Music Fair, held this year at Houston Baptist University. Doors will open at 1:00pm with the Winner’s Recital from our Spring 2011 Student Auditions. This is your chance to hear student singers of our membership and support budding artistry. After the recital, student participants and their families will be eager to visit prospective colleges/universities from 3:00-5:00pm at the College Vocal Music Fair. The afternoon will have an “open house” feel with students and families promenading from station to station, making personal connections and initiating the college application/audition process. There will be area vendors, college/university voice instructors, and YOU all promoting the study of singing. Your participation and promotion will guarantee a successful event, so please invite your students, their families and friends and join us! We hope you’ll encourage both your high school and college students to attend so that they can make connections with this year’s representatives and learn about their undergraduate and graduate vocal programs.


Paul Busselberg & Amanda Waites
Vice Presidents for CVMF

Paul Busselberg
Amanda Waites

From the Chapter Secretary



Serving as Book Reviewer for Journal of Singing affords me the opportunity to read new pedagogic publications. The following are noteworthy titles on a variety of voice related topics.

Emmons, Shirlee and Wilbur Watkins Lewis, Researching the Song. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. This is a reference guide for sources and citations found in art song, from Alecto to Zeus. Emmons, the venerable author of The Art of the Song Recital and her co-author Watkins provide a wealth of information in one volume.

Kimball, Carol. Song. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006. In this definitive text for art song study, Kimball covers the gamut from Lutenists to Libby Larsen, and includes general style characteristics and an historical overview of the song literature, complete with representative examples.

Debra Greschner

Katz, Martin. The Complete Collaborator. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Katz, who is renowned as a collaborative pianist, offers valuable insight into the interpretation of art song. Although it is ostensibly addressed to pianists, singers will find it a valuable addition to their arsenal for recital preparation.

McCoy, Scott, Your Voice: An Inside View. Princeton, NJ: Inside View Press, 2004. This book and CD Rom package deliver exactly what the title promises an inside view of the way the voice works. It is detailed, yet not intimidating. The content of the book is contained on the disc, and the diagrams are interactive.

LaBouff, Kathryn. Singing and Communicating in English. A Singer’s Guide to English Diction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. LaBouff, who is a member of the voice faculty at Juilliard, elucidates English diction in this clearly written guide. A correlated web site contains recorded examples.

Moore, Tracey with Allison Bergman, Acting the Song: Performance Skills for the Musical Theatre. New York: Allworth Press, 2008. This volume is addressed to music theatre singers, but all vocalists will benefit from Moore and Bergman’s instructions for score and scene study, and exercises to aid in developing characterization.

Wicklund, Karen. Singing Voice Rehabilitation. A Guide for the Voice Teach and Speech-Language Pathologist. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage, 2010. Trained as a singer, pedagogue, and speech-language pathologist, Wicklund brings formidable experience to bear on the rehabilitation of singing voices. This pragmatic volume, complete with exercises and repertoire suggestions, offers excellent guidance for bringing a voice back to full health.


The Houston Chapter boasts authors who are past or current members. Alba, Lois. Vocal Rescue. Norwich, NY: William Andrew Publishing, 2005. The Houston area pedagogue offers practical advice and vocalises (including some of historical interest) in the Italianate tradition.

Carman, Judith, et. al ., Art Song in the United States. 1759-1999. An annotated bibliography, Third Edition. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2001. Carman lived and taught in Houston for many years, and writes the printed music reviews for Journal of Singing. The wealth of information in this volume is staggering.

Radionoff, Sharon. The Vocal Instrument. San Diego: Plural Publishing, 2008. Singing voice specialist Radionoff proffers an overview of the vocal instrument, as well as practical advice for keeping the voice healthy.

Secretary's Report


I am pleased to serve as the Secretary for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS. I have been a member of NATS since 1985; before moving to Texas, I served as President of the Las Vegas Chapter. In 1994, I was participant in the Internship Program in Boulder, CO. The program is an excellent example of the important role of NATS in training voice pedagogues. Since 1998, I have been a member of the Editorial Board for Journal of Singing, and I have served as Book Reviewer for the Journal since 2001.

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.

The Secretary is also responsible for member renewals. Please be sure to renew your chapter membership for this year. You can renew by completing an online form and paying your chapter dues at The dues are $30.00 and are due October 15, 2011; there is a $10.00 late fee for dues paid after that date. Remember that all GHNATS members must maintain their national membership in NATS as well as renewing your local membership. You cannot be a member of the Chapter if you are not a national member.

When completing your renewal, please indicate a Chapter committee on which you would like to serve. Thank you, in advance, for your participation.

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

Debra Greschner
Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music
Lamar University
P.O. Box 10044
Beaumont, TX 77707

From the Membership Liaison


As the new Membership Liaison Chair this year, I get the opportunity to be the first to welcome new members, in addition to providing a bridge for information to new and re-newing members. An exciting new addition to this chair’s service is the GH NATS Facebook Page and social media manager.

I decided to join GH NATS a year after my Master’s Degree, as I found I needed a supportive network of teachers in my area. I was pleasantly surprised that NATS has been that and was readily accessible throughout the diverse and thriving Houston music teaching community.

Shannon Langman

As my private studio grew, I found that having supportive, private studio colleagues of all experience levels, with positive teaching mission statement was of utmost importance to me. This is and has been the most important reason for joining and staying a member, in addition to the rest of the great perks membership has to offer. I am so enthusiastic about serving as the Membership Liaison in hopes of sharing and expanding the voice teacher supportive network foundation in the Houston area.

Shannon Langman

From the Treasurer


Hello Fellow Teachers of Singing!

I’m Melissa Givens, Soprano and Area Coordinator of the Voice Area at Houston Baptist University. I’m also your GH NATS Treasurer. That’s right, I’m the one who takes your money every time you renew your membership (hint), register students for the Auditions (hint, hint), and register for a workshop (hint, hint, hint)! I’m so thrilled to be a member of this organization and to work with such wonderful colleagues on the Board. We are really looking forward to a great year of serving you, and through you, your students. I’ve been a member of GH NATS for about 6 years and the longer I belong, the more I’m convinced of the need for a local organization where we can exchange ideas, grow our profession, and promote good, healthy singing. If I may include a timely personal plug, I am also a member of Conspirare: Company of Voices and our new CD, “Sing Freedom: African-American Spirituals” drops on September 13. It’s really a landmark recording and I hope you stop by or Amazon and check it out!

Melissa Givens

From the Chapter Past President


To my Esteemed Colleagues:

Welcome to the Fall of 2011! I hope and pray this educational year will bring a renewed awareness of energy that continually surrounds and stimulates each of us in a genuine and artistic manner. I wish for success, growth and development within your studios vocally, artistically, and musically; our Greater Houston Chapter of NATS is honored to help serve in that growth, development and success.

It is my belief that we are all students throughout our entire lives, and I am thankful for both formal and informal education. Some of you may know that I have recently departed on a journey, a tremendous journey – one I have waited a long time to begin. The pedagogy class as part of my DMA program is focusing this semester on Teaching Voice in the Applied Studio. This course study includes emphasis on pedagogy in teaching private voice in the professional voice studio at home, in a high school setting, and at the collegiate level. One of the articles recently submitted to the class was “Claiming an Education,” by Adrienne Rich.

Dear Greater Houston Chapter of NATS Members,

Ms. Rich’s article has engaged my mind at a new level and promotes the idea of continually making strides by actively participating in responsible choices for our own educations – for our own professions. This article has exploded within my being the idea of, with sincere joy and gratitude, choosing to surround myself with colleagues who have high ideals and standards, who continually strive to bring the highest level of integrity and artistry to the studio and the stage: this is where I am thankful for my GH NATS Colleagues, as well as other members of our Houston artistic community.

Have a fabulous year, and I encourage us all to engage and enjoy every opportunity offered by our GH NATS Chapter. Our GH NATS Board is working intensely to provide events for our chapter with the highest level of commitment, innovation and energy. I look forward to seeing you all and hearing your students in the upcoming season!


Marion Russell Dickson
GH NATS Board Past President, Ex-Officio
DMA Candidate, Voice – University of Houston
Music Department Faculty, Voice and Diction
University of St. Thomas 3800 Montrose
Houston, TX 77006