Newsletter Fall 2013

A Letter from the President


Dear NATS colleagues and prospective new members,

Welcome to the 2013/14 academic year! I hope this newsletter finds you excited about the upcoming year after a restful and exciting summer! The GHNATS Officers are very busy planning a wonderful year for our membership and their students and I want to thank them for their hard work. Within this newsletter, you will find each of the Officer’s reports for the upcoming year.

I would like to begin by welcoming two members who have committed to serve our chapter as ad hoc chairs for the upcoming year. Kisa Parker will serve as our Hospitality/Social Events chair, and Diana Stoerzbach will serve as our Winners’ Recital chair. Please thank them for their service when you see them.

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 added the “Find a teacher” section to our website, and I have received multiple reports of teachers receiving calls from prospective students. I hope you will take advantage of this resource. We have also updated the archives of guest judges, clinicians, and student winners.

Jason Lester

As we look forward, the first thing I would like to bring to your attention is a new link on our website highlighting our chapter’s history. Thank you Janice Robbins for all the time and energy you spent on this project. I hope you will read this wonderful information of our history and thank those responsible for helping shape this chapter into the great resource it is for teachers of singing. Please read each officer’s report to see the details of upcoming events, as they pertain to the individual office.

Registration for 2013/14 GHNATS membership has officially opened. We will be offering the “Win a Website” drawing again this year! If you renew your membership by Sunday, October 13, 2013, you will be eligible for this free website, donated by our webmaster, Rosendo Reyna. Register early and take advantage of this opportunity! Beginning October 14, 2013, the registration fee increases from $30 to $40.

As you will see in this newsletter, GHNATS has much to offer. Our first events of the year are the College Vocal Music Fair, Winners’ Recital, and business meeting to be held on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at Houston Baptist University. 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. We will have college and university representatives from their vocal departments present for the College Vocal Music Fair and I encourage you and your students who are considering majoring in music to attend this wonderful event. The schedule of events is on the GHNATS website.

Lastly, the NATS Texoma Regional Conference will be held at Baylor University November 7-9, 2013 and at Lone Star College-Kingwood in November 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.
Welcome to GHNATS!


From the Chapter Past President


Greetings, Esteemed Colleagues of Greater Houston NATS!

Welcome to the new academic year!! As we prepare for our 2013-2014 year, let us start anew with a moment of gratitude. Taking a moment to be thankful for our own teachers, colleagues and students helps us to be reminded of the importance of relationships and the importance of staying connected.

Once the doors of our studios are opened, the activity of assigning repertoire, teaching lessons and studio classes, vocalizing our own instruments, as well as attending performances of our students and colleagues, our minds, bodies and spirits can easily maintain a combined level of excitement and exhaustion. Making the choice for a positive step in beginning the year with gratitude can initiate an electric current of appreciation that can be sent through our studios and our respective departments.

Wishing you each the very best for your studios and your teaching this year!! Make time to spend on self that will help improve your teaching and singing (and your living!). Go to the opera and make time to attend those recitals and concerts that will allow the vigor and grace that comes from live performances to enter your lives and stimulate your level of artistic generosity.

Blessings for a fabulous and healthy year!

Sincerely yours,

Marion Russell Dickson
South Texas District Governor of NATS
Houston, TX 77006
Work phone: 713-525-6906

Marion Russell Dickson

From the Secretary


It is a privilege to be serving as the Greater Houston NATS Secretary once again this year! I’ve been a member of NATS since 2006, and I was appointed as chapter secretary starting in 2012. In 2010, I was awarded an 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. In the summer of 2012, I attended the NATS National Convention in Orlando, FL, this time as a presenter. I participated on a panel discussion/presentation on “Careers in Professional Opera Choruses” alongside representatives from the Chicago Lyric Opera Chorus and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

I have been a member of the Houston Grand Opera Chorus for nearly 10 years. I’m also a mother of two elementary-age children who are also singers. In 2012, my daughter sang with the Houston Grand Opera in their children’s chorus for La Boheme in which she had a solo line, and she was later asked to sing Young Kim in their Show Boat production. I was a very proud and nervous mother standing on stage every night with her singing in such a grand venue! She had a terrific time in both productions and made some fast friends. I’m hoping my son will be ready for the Carmen auditions next year!

Frankie Hickman

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, at As 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. In 2015, we will be required to renew our chapter membership with the national dues renewal. The board elected to forgo that option for this year, but things may change for next year in anticipation of the new policy. We will be sure to keep you informed of those changes. For this year however, we will follow the usual procedure: You can renew by completing an online form and paying your chapter dues at The dues are $30.00 and are due October 12, 2013; 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 local chapter if you are not a national member.

We will be making a few changes to our online renewal form and auditions registration page. We will work to make it more user-friendly by removing the unnecessary sections, such as mailing address and adding some options for us to gather vital information on helping the chapter’s growth. When completing your renewal, please indicate a chapter committee on which you would like to serve, we need your help. Our auditions are combined this year and we want it to be the most fulfilling for students and teachers, please look for the registration options to check your judging availability at the auditions if you are not bringing students and what category you are most interested and qualified to judge.

Best wishes for a productive year, and I look forward to seeing all of you at our first official event in October! Have a fantastic remainder of 2013!

From the Treasurer


Hello GHNATS Friends!

I’m Melissa Givens, Soprano and Area Coordinator of the Voice Area at Houston Baptist University. One of the many other jobs I’ve held was Technical Secretary for Houston Grand Opera. Among other things, this involved passing out checks to the Stage Crew, earning me the nickname, “The Money Lady.” I don’t have that job any more, but I’m still “The Money Lady” — except now I get to take it from you and spend it on our programs as your Chapter Treasurer! Our secretary has posted the due dates for your local dues (don’t forget to renew your Nationals!) and I thank you in advance for your cooperation. I may not know all of your faces, but I am greeted by your names when PayPal notifies me that you’ve secured the benefits of membership for another year. Wishing us all a great new year of progress and success!

Melissa Givens, DMA
Phone: 713-819-1527

Melissa Givens

From the Vice-Presidents of Classical and Musical Theatre Auditions


Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 29, 2014! This year we are embarking on some changes with the spring auditions — combining Musical Theater and Classical, as well as utilizing a new venue at LoneStar College in Kingwood. We have also discussed correcting some of the online registration issues that many of you faced this past year. We hope to make the necessary changes to create the most user-friendly registration process. Our best advice would be to be on the lookout for informative emails and detailed instructions on the website as we draw nearer to the registration period, beginning in mid-January with a deadline of March 1.

In an effort to streamline the day for all of us, your board members met last week to talk about the structure of the coming auditions. Here are some of the ideas we are considering.

First, we discussed the possibility of holding our chapter meeting at 8:00 a.m. simultaneously with the judges’ meeting rather than at noon. In this way we could keep auditions going steadily until all the singing is completed, allowing judges to have a short lunch break before returning to their judging assignments.

Second, we discussed holding the first round of the classical portion of the competition first, followed by the first round of the musical theater portion. There would be a pause between the two first rounds for tabulations, followed by announcements of all the finalists. The finals would be held in the same order – classical first, followed by musical theater.

And, third, we have talked about holding interest sessions during the judging as Texoma does. For those who are making a long day of it, these sessions could be very beneficial. This idea will be developed by our Vice-President of Workshops, Debra Greschner.

Our planning is focused on making the day run smoothly, and there is one important thing that you can do. Contact your accompanists now and engage them for the day. Our preliminary thinking is that teachers will not be able to use the same accompanist for classical and musical theater. Of course, in the classical auditions we are all well aware that we must have separate accompanists for high school/adult and college/graduate. There is still a great deal of planning ahead of us, so this is not carved in stone. However, it would be wise to engage those pianists now.

We are both looking forward to an exciting and very productive Spring Auditions in 2014.

Angela and Beverly

Angela Pickering
Beverly Laubach

Report from the Vice-President of Workshops

Debra Greschner

I am happy to continue to serve as Vice-President of Workshops for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS.

At the Musical Theater Auditions in January, the Chapter presented a lecture by Dr. Norman Spivey, who is on faculty at Penn State School of Music, and President Elect for NATS. Penn State recently launched an MFA in Voice Pedagogy for Musical Theatre.

At the Classical Auditions in April, the Chapter presented a lecture by Dr. Sharon Mabry. Mabry is Professor of Voice at Austin Peay State University, and the author of the recently published “The Performing Life: A Singer’s Guide to Survival”(Scarecrow Press, 2012). 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.

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 12, 2013. Faculty representatives are already committed to attend from Baylor, Southern Methodist, Texas State, and Sam Houston State Universities; we anticipate that many others will attend from schools throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Just as with last year’s successful event, students and parents in our chapter will have the opportunity to make significant connections with representatives from many college and university vocal music programs and gain valuable insights into their programs of study, admissions requirements, and audition opportunities.

Once again this year, following performances by our GHNATS singers in the Winner’s Recital at 1:00 PM, college representatives will make brief presentations about their respective programs, and will then be available throughout the afternoon to visit with attendees and answer questions about their programs as well as vocal music studies at the college level.

We look forward to another successful College Vocal Music Fair this year, and encourage all of our chapter members to help spread the word so that many college-bound singers can attend and take advantage of this great opportunity. An email reminder with a printable flyer will be sent out in the next few weeks. Please pass the invitation along to your high school students, as well as any high school choir directors your area.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 12 during our 2013 College Vocal Music Fair at Houston Baptist University!


Paul Busselberg & Robin Cobb, Co-Vice Presidents for College Vocal Music Fair

Paul Busselberg
Robbin Cobb

From the Membership Liaison


I have the distinct pleasure to be the first to welcome new members, in addition to providing a bridge for information to new and renewing 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 studio continues to grow and change over the years, I hope to keep the communication and conversation alive online with the online tools available, and encourage all to take advantage of the platform, to inspire the teaching of singing. I am enthusiastic about serving as the Membership Liaison in hopes of sharing and expanding the voice of the teacher supportive network foundation in the Houston area.

-Shannon Langman

Shannon Langman