Newsletter Fall 2017

A Letter President


As we prepare for the 2017-18 academic year, my heart goes out to Houston and the neighboring communities of Texas and those who have been affected by the disaster of Hurricane Harvey. I know many of our members have been affected by the storm and are now suffering in the aftermath.

The NATS National Office has set up a fund for assistance. The funds collected will be used to directly assist NATS members affected by Hurricane Harvey to replace music and other resources specific to their teaching that were lost due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey. You can donate via an online contribution form.

You may also call the NATS Office at 904-992-9101 to donate using your credit card, or send a check payable to NATS, Inc. Write “Hurricane Relief Fund” in the memo. (Mail to National Association of Teachers of Singing, 9957 Moorings Drive, Suite 401, Jacksonville, FL 32257). CLICK HERE to download and print a pledge form.

Elisa Thompson

I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Winners Recital on Sunday, October 15 at 4:00 p.m. at Houston Baptist University.

Our Fall Business Meeting begins will be held in conjunction with the Musical Theatre Auditions to be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at Lone Star College-Montgomery. We hope that this move to a Fall and Spring Audition schedule will make it easier for teachers and students to participate.

I encourage you to make plans to attend the Texoma Regional Conference; it will be held at Texas A&M University – Commerce, in Commerce, Texas November 8-11, 2017. Information can be found on the Texoma web page at:

There has been a change at the National level regarding registration for auditions. This change affects local chapters as well. You will be receiving more information regarding this change in the coming weeks.

As a reminder, the National Office of NATS has instituted a change in the collection of dues. Chapter dues will now be collected when national dues are paid. The National office has cited excellent reasons for this, including convenience for the members, consistency in payment deadlines, and increased membership at the local level. Chapters are now aligned with the February 1 deadline, so the Greater Houston Chapter will not collect dues on October 15; the dues will be collected when you renew your national membership.

I am very excited to be working with a wonderful Board of Officers this year.

Please contact me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Elisa Thompson


From the Chapter Past President


Dear Greater Houston NATS Chapter Members,

It is my pleasure to serve as Past President for the Greater Houston Chapter, and to serve with the current slate of officers.

Best wishes for a successful academic year.

Debra Greschner

Debra Greschner

From the Vice-President of Classical Auditions


I am happy to serve again as our chapter Vice-President for Classical auditions. Donna Hinds Sawyer and I were pleased with the efficiency of last year’s auditions and we hope that the overall experience was enjoyable for you and your students.

The GHNATS Spring Classical Auditions will be on Saturday, April 7, 2018, hosted by The Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Our chapter meeting and judges’ meeting will begin promptly at 8:00am in room 131 of the MSM. Results for the finals in each category will be posted in room 131, in areas near the main foyer, and via a QR code for easy access for students to view on their smart phones or tablets.

Registration for both Musical Theatre and Classical Auditions this year will occur through Auditionware. I am excited to share that NATS has standardized the registration process throughout our organization, which will create many advantages. For example, your payment will now be processed through the National NATS website and will provide a detailed receipt to be stored in your member account for your reference or tax reimbursement purposes. This process will also create cost savings for the Greater Houston chapter by eliminating PayPal transaction fees. Lastly, singers who advance to later rounds of the National Student Auditions (NSA) will automatically be imported into the Auditionware system for the next round, making it easier for you to register them. I found the software and technical support of Auditionware very helpful last year, so I look forward to the improvements that National NATS has implemented.

Michael Walsh

Please remember to review the information found on the NATS Student Auditions Resource page and make sure you also understand the complete set of guidelines for each category by clicking on the following link: NSA Categories.

I highly suggest you contact and secure your accompanists now to reserve these dates in their calendars (November 4, 2017 for Musical Theatre and April 7, 2018 for Classical). Since Musical Theatre and Classical Auditions will be held on separate dates, we hope that the pianists you collaborate with most can play for both contests. As always, NATS endorses a strict policy regarding copyright laws which can be easily found at

My sincere thanks to my fellow GHNATS board members for their help with the improvements to last year’s audition process. Special thanks to Donna Hinds Sawyer for her wonderful work over the past year as Vice-President of Musical Theatre, and for her assistance with organizing and preparing last year’s auditions. We make a great team!

Michael Walsh

From the Vice-President of Musical Theatre


Greetings from the VP of Musical Theatre Auditions:

I am so happy to once again turn my thoughts to beautiful singing, and our Student Auditions this school year. I am also pleased to partner with Michael Walsh in managing both our genres’ events. I am thoroughly dependent on his technical expertise, and positive attitude! We are once again adapting to the National NATS standards, which have been very helpful in planning and execution of our Auditions.

The GHNATS Musical Theatre Student Auditions will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2017. A word about the fall date: The Board has deliberated on many options and agreed that Fall is a better fit for the Musical Theatre Auditions. Most high schools produce their musicals in January/February and March/April runs too closely with Classical Auditions. We are hoping to enable more students to register.

Our host is Lonestar College Montgomery, located in The Woodlands, TX. The campus is easily accessible via I45 North or the Hardy Toll Road. We are excited to be hosted in their lovely Fine Arts complex.

Donna Hinds

Registration for both Musical Theatre and Classical Auditions will occur through

Auditionware. Please see the complete information provided by Michael Walsh in his letter: From the Vice President of Classical Auditions.

Please remember to review the information found on the NATS Student Auditions Resource page and make sure you also understand the complete set of guidelines for each category by clicking on the following link: NSA Categories. As per National Guidelines, we are pleased to include CCM categories for singers eighteen and over.

Thank you to our stellar GHNATS Board for their hard work and willingness to help.
I look forward to a great 2017-2018 season with all of you.

Donna Hinds Sawyers

Report from the Vice-President of Workshops


Dear NATS colleagues and friends,

I am Serdar Ilban, baritone, and vocal area coordinator at Lamar University. I have been an active member of NATS since 2003, and joined GHNATS in 2011. In 2010, I was selected as one of the recipients of NATS Emerging Leaders Award.

I am honored to serve as Vice-President of Workshops for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS for my second consecutive term.

At our Chapter Auditions in April 2017, the Chapter presented a workshop by Dr. Carleen Graham, general director of HGOco and an award-winning opera educator, administrator, researcher and opera director. Dr. Graham shared the new vision of HGOco and took questions from students and teachers. The year before we offered a very well-attended workshop by Dr. Loraine Sims titled “Training the Terrible Tongue”. In the prior season, we had a lively panel discussion featuring distinguished guests from both classical and musical theatre genres. Some of today’s notable performers, teachers, and other industry professionals took questions from students, their family members and other performers and teachers. The discussion received lots of positive feedback from attendees.

Serdar Ilbanac

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

I hope this message finds each and every one of you safe in the aftermath of Harvey. As we all gear up for recovery, I wish for a Houston Strong and productive year for us all, and I look forward to seeing you all at our first official event in October! 

Thank you,

Serdar N. Ilban, D.M.A.

Vice-President of Workshops


Membership Liaison Statement


I am happy to serve as Membership Liaison for the GHNATS chapter and look forward to seeing you at our meetings, competitions, and Winners Recitals. If we don’t know each other, please introduce yourself. We are happy to have you in our chapter. The following is a description of my duties……’The Membership Liaison is responsible for initial email contact to new and renewing members to welcome them to the Chapter. The Membership Liaison shall also provide a bridge to useful information to members by being the contact for members and go-between for the board. This office will direct members and renewing members to the pertinent information they need.’

Best to you,
Frances Fenton

Frances Fenton

From the Secretary


It is my esteemed pleasure to serve as your secretary for the 2017-18 Academic year. As secretary, I am responsible for membership renewals as well as other communications to the membership.

The primary responsibility of the Chapter Secretary is communication. Please feel free to contact me regarding upcoming activities, or anything else you would like to share with the membership at

Please be sure to renew your membership for this year. You can renew and pay your membership fees at Let’s also encourage and invite our fellow colleagues, to join us this year. The membership renewal period begins in October, with dues payments for the coming year due by January 31, 2018. After Feb. 1 a $10 late fee applies to all renewals. Members who do not renew their membership by March 1 will be deactivated and benefits will be terminated. Lapsed members must pay a $20 or $50 reactivation fee (dependent upon the member’s reactivation date), in addition to full dues for the current year in order to be reinstated.

I look forward to meeting and working with you as we strive towards making this a rewarding year for our students and chapter. May you have a productive year and I look forward to seeing each of you at our chapter events this year!

Jammieca D. Mott, D.M.A.