Newsletter Fall 2012

A Letter from the President


Dear NATS colleagues and prospective new members,

Welcome to the 2012-2013 academic year! I hope this newsletter finds you well after a relaxing, rejuvenating summer. It is with great pleasure that I will be serving as your President for the upcoming term. The GHNATS Officers are very busy ensuring a wonderfully productive year for our membership and their students and I want to thank them for their willingness to serve our chapter with integrity, humility, and selflessness. Within this newsletter, you will find each of the Officer’s reports for the upcoming year.

I would like to begin by welcoming our new Board members. Frankie Hickman will be serving as your Secretary. She has embraced this role with enthusiasm and has already proven to be an invaluable member of the board. Debra Greschner, although not new to the board, will be serving in a new capacity, as Vice-President of Workshops. Her passion for this office is evident and you will find her creative ideas for workshops inspiring. Additionally, I’d like to welcome Robin Cobb as our new Co-Vice-President of the College Vocal Music Fair (CVMF). Robin is a longstanding member of our chapter and brings a great skill-set to this office. I am indebted to these three wonderful members for their commitment and desire to serve our chapter.

Jason Lester

Before looking forward to the upcoming year, I’d like to briefly review what a great year we had last year. In addition to the wonderful annual events, such as the CVMF, Musical Theater Auditions, and the Classical Auditions, we added a few services. We provided a pianist for the Winners’ Recital and subsequently saw a huge increase in participants over previous years. We also awarded gift cards to the first place winners in each category at both the Musical Theater and Classical Auditions. Our intention is to continue these services and believe it is a wise allocation of our resources. The Board also went to great lengths to revise our bylaws. These modifications will greatly help future board members by clarifying their roles and responsibilities and in turn will serve the membership with greater efficiency.

As we look forward, the first thing I would like to bring to your attention is the launch of our new website! It has been completely redesigned and is much more efficient and easy to navigate. It is very clear, clean, and simple and we hope you will agree as you browse. We have added more functionality to the website, including a personal login. Once you establish your user name and password, you will be able to add/edit your bio, photo, and emails in the Members page, as well as pay your dues and download the Auditions forms. When you go to the new website (, you will see a “GHNATS Members” login sidebar. It is recommended that you change your password when you first login so others cannot access your Members area. When you change your password it is recommended that the password have at least one capital letter, one number and one symbol. This will prevent others from hacking your account. If you need your password reset, you can email our webmaster, Rosendo Reyna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Registration for 2012/13 GHNATS membership has officially opened. We will be offering the “Win a Website” again this year. If you renew your membership by Sunday, October 14, 2012, you will be entered in a drawing for a free website, donated by our webmaster, Rosendo Reyna. Register early and take advantage of this opportunity! Beginning October 15, 2012, the registration fee increases to $40.00.

As you will see in this newsletter, GHNATS has much to offer. Our first event will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at Houston Baptist University, where we will host the College Vocal Music Fair, business meeting, and Winners’ Recital. 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. Diana Stoerzbach (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), our Winners’ Recital chair, will be heading up this event.

Marion Russell Dickson will acknowledge the fine achievements of several of our members in her report, but I would like to recognize Marion’s newest position within NATS. She is now the NATS Texoma Region’s South Texas District Governor. This is a wonderful achievement and Marion will represent our chapter exceptionally well in her new role. Congrats Marion!

And lastly, the NATS Texoma Regional Conference will be held at Lone Star College-Kingwood in November 2014! This has been in the works for quite a long time and I congratulate Todd Miller and the LSC faculty for their hard work in securing this conference. The Regional conference has not been held in the Houston area since 2002. It has been a long time coming, and we look forward to having a strong showing in the Fall of 2014.

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.

I am honored to serve as your president and thank you all for your continued commitment to our chapter. Please do consider inviting your colleagues who are not yet members to join us!
Welcome to GHNATS!


From the Chapter Past President


Greetings, Esteemed Colleagues of Greater Houston NATS!

I hope this letter finds you healthy and happy as the new school year begins!! Before we look ahead to the future full of hopes and anticipatory energies of our year, let us take a brief moment and reflect on this past year’s gifts. Perhaps for some, there have been great strides professionally in the classroom or on the stage. For others, perhaps guiding students through milestones in their young professional lives, such as college or graduate school auditions, and helping usher them through the next step in development, has provided great satisfaction and pride.

NATS has many opportunities that await our members; highlighted opportunities through NATS recently affected several of our GH NATS members: Robin Cobb, who is our returning Co-Vice President of CVMF, our current chapter Secretary, Frankie Hickman, Angela Pickering, our Vice President of Classical Auditions, Angela Pickering, and GHNATS Associate Member Roger Keele. Congratulations to Robin for receiving a Fellowship to the NATS Conference in Orlando; she speaks very highly of her experience at the Conference as a NATS Fellow. Frankie Hickman was invited to sit on a panel at this year’s National NATS Conference and speak to the career of singing with a professional Opera.

Marion Russell Dickson

Chorus, as this is one exciting and challenging career path to which a singer may aspire. Congratulations, Frankie! Angela Pickering received the honor of presenting Ned Rorem’s song cycle Evidence of Things Not Seen, along with former GH NATS Members Charles Stanton and Kerry Jennings, as part of Texoma NATS 2011 Artist Series. Dr. Roger Keele has been awarded the honor of presenting this year in Texoma NATS Artist Series a lecture recital entitled Setting a Text to Music: A Composer’s Insight, featuring some of his art song compositions. The singers for this lecture recital are all GH NATS Members, soprano Frances Fenton, soprano Debra Greschner, and baritone Serdar Ilban. Congratulations to Angela, Charles, Kerry, Roger, Debra and Serdar!!!

As ever, our GH NATS Chapter continues to be a leader in our Region, and one way this is communicated is by the sophisticated updates and viewing of our Chapter’s Website, Take a look at these fabulous revisions and enjoy the new layout, complete with video selections and succinct navigation for information on events, newsletters, by-laws, and the like.

November 7 – 10, 2012 will see a fabulous Texoma NATS Regional Conference at the University of North Texas in Denton, and I hope to see many of you and your students at this exciting event!! Looking forward: Congratulations to Lone Star College – Kingwood for hosting Texoma Regional NATS in 2014!! We are all proud to be part of the hosting Chapter, and let us reflect on how our services may be helpful to Dr. Todd Miller and the Kingwood College Community.

In closing, I encourage each of us to take advantage of the wonderful programs NATS offers, from the National Level, to the Regional and Chapter Levels. I wish you the very best in your ongoing professional careers as Teachers of Singing, and it is my honor to serve you on the Board of the Greater Houston Chapter. Have a fabulous year, and I wish you many blessings!


Marion Russell Dickson
South Texas District Governor of NATS
University of Houston, DMA Voice Student
University of St. Thomas Voice Faculty
3800 Montrose
Houston, TX 77006

From the Secretary


It is a privilege to be serving at the Greater Houston NATS Secretary!   I’ve been a member of NATS since 2006.  In 2010 I was awarded the Independent Teacher Fellowship Award to attend the National Convention in Salt Lake City, UT.  It was a fabulous experience with a lot of great presentations.  For the 2011-2012 year, I had the honor to serve as the hospitality chair for both the Musical Theater Auditions and the Classical Auditions for our local chapter.  This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the NATS  National Convention again as a presenter.  I participated on a panel discussion/presentation with representatives from the Chicago Lyric Opera Chorus and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus  speaking about Careers in Professional Opera Choruses.  I have been a member of the Houston Grand Opera Chorus for nearly 10 years.  I was a little nervous, but really enjoyed getting to know my fellow panelists and speaking with enthusiastic audience members afterwards.

As Secretary, I am responsible for communication and membership renewals. Communication is of primary importance, so if you have questions or need to communicate to our membership, please start with me, Email is the best way to contact me, please indicate your preferred email address on your dues renewal form.

New membership and membership renewal are vital in keeping our chapter resilient and thriving.  Please be sure to renew your chapter membership for this year and invite your fellow teachers to join us. You can renew by completing an online form and paying your chapter dues at The dues are $30.00 and are due October 15, 2012; 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.

We need you and your talents beyond teaching.  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 our first official event of the year!

From the Treasurer


Warm greetings to my Fellow Teachers of Singing!

I’m Melissa Givens, Soprano and Area Coordinator of the Voice Area at Houston Baptist University. I’m also your GHNATS 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 GHNATS for about 7 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. I hope you find that to be the case too – and I invite you to spread the word to your colleagues who are not (or are no longer) members of our happy band!

Melissa Givens

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 13, 2013 at the Moore’s School of Music at the University of Houston.  We enjoyed a successful event last spring, and it was wonderful to see new teachers involved in these auditions, as well as those who had returned after a hiatus.  Also, let me offer a huge “thank you” to all involved in making the auditions run so smoothly, including those who came early to help with hospitality and set-up, those who helped coordinate the afternoon workshop with Martha Herr, those who served as runners during the finals, as well as those who judged the auditions.

For this year’s auditions, online registration will be available from Monday, January 7 thru Saturday, March 9, allowing plenty of time for teachers to make arrangements with students and to gather the necessary information before schools close for spring break.  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.  Also, please remember that the limit for each accompanist is ten students.  Again this year, we will combine the finals for high school and adult divisions, in order for teachers to use the same accompanists in those categories.  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 7, 2013 for more details pertaining to the auditions.  And, of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Angela Pickering
Classical Auditions Chair

From the Vice-President of Theatre Auditions


Greetings, GHNATS Colleagues!  I am happy to serve as your VP for Music Theater Auditions for the second year.  It is my pleasure to announce that we will hold the annual Music Theater Auditions at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on January 26, 2013 from 8 AM to 4 PM.   The forms pertaining to the auditions will be available on the website on Monday, November 12th and will be due on Monday, December 17th, 2012.   I will be in search of a helper for this event, so if you would like to assist, please call me at 281-782-7342.  I can promise you that Debra Greschner and I will put our heads together and bring you an outstanding speaker for the event.  Stay tuned for more news about that.

Beverly Laubach

Report from the Vice-President of Workshops


I am happy to serve as Vice-President of Workshops for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS.  I have been fortunate to meet or communicate with many of the Chapter members in my previous role as Secretary, and I am looking forward to new responsibilities.

At the Classical Auditions in April, the Chapter presented a lecture-recital on Portuguese art song by soprano Martha Herr (State University of São Paulo) and collaborative pianist Michael Zuraw (Aperio – Music of the Americas). The Chapter gratefully acknowledges a matching grant from the Discretionary Funds of the National Office of NATS in support of this presentation.

We are in the process of planning workshops and clinics for the coming year, some of which will coincide with the Music Theatre and Classical auditions.  Information about workshops will be forthcoming.  Please contact me if you have suggestions for clinicians or topics.   My contact information appears below.

Thank you,

Debra Greschner
Vice-President of Workshops

Debra Greschner

Regarding the 2012 College Vocal Music Fair


The GHNATS-sponsored College Vocal Music Fair will be held once again at Houston Baptist University on Saturday, October 13, 2012.  Last year’s event was very successful; students and teachers in our chapter had the opportunity to make significant connections with representatives from local, state, and regional college and university vocal music programs.  A highlight of the day was hearing performances by many of our students who were winners in the previous Spring Classical and Musical Theater Auditions during the Winner’s Recital.

We welcomed Amanda Waites last year as co-VP for the College Vocal Music Fair. Amanda worked dutifully, shouldering much of the organization for last year’s event.  This year we welcome Robin Cobb as the co-VP for College Vocal Music Fair, and are so happy for her willing involvement and support of this event.

We look forward to another successful Fair this year, and encourage both you and your students to attend and take advantage of this great opportunity.  Look for more details about times and specific events coming soon.  In the meantime, please mark your calendars for Saturday, October 13, and plan to attend the 2012 College Vocal Music Fair held at Houston Baptist University.


Paul Busselberg
Co-Vice President for College Vocal Music Fair

Paul Busselberg
Robbin Cobb

From the Membership Liaison


Rounding out my first year serving as Membership Liaison Chair this year, I have the distinct pleasure 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, in an effort to use it as a platform to expand the GH NATS community.

I joined 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.

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

Shannon Langman