Developing our global perspective.
Traveling always rekindles my passion for history. This passion began with growing up in Dayton, Ohio, the home of many inventors, and, by the way, the birthplace of the Wright brothers' airplane, the automobile self-starter, the pop-top can, Freon, the cash register, and the ATM machine. Studies in music history and vocal literature and then a European tour with my college choir all had a powerful and lasting influence on my belief in the importance of developing a global perspective on humanity, its history and its future.
This all leads me to the question: What is our National Association of Teachers of Singing doing to develop our global perspective here in North America and to mentor and enrich our sister associations around the world? We look forward to the 30th anniversary of the International Congress of Voice Teachers this summer in Stockholm, Sweden. How can we use this gathering as a forum for more broadly meeting our mission "to promote vocal education and research at all levels, both for the enrichment of the general public and for the professional advancement of the talented"? The ICVT and NATS need your help. I hope that those reading this column, whether or not you plan to attend the congress, might propose some answers and some suggestions to both me and your regional governor.
Here are a few interesting internationally related "snapshots" from the NATS history on our website. Established in 1944, NATS in the 1950s first discussed having an international meeting. Also in the 1950s Canadians became eligible for membership, and in the mid-1960s became full members and thus eligible to hold national office. The first NATS workshop held outside U.S. borders took place in Victoria, B.C. in 1996, and the first workshop held outside North America was in 1997 in London, England. In 1987 the first International Congress of Voice Teachers took place in Strasbourg, France, with over 650 attendees. During President Dale Moore's tenure (1988-1991), full membership was extended to international teachers. In 1990 Marvin Keenze was officially appointed NATS International Coordinator. This summer, the Intern Program will be held in Canada for the first time, in the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario.
Here are a few current statistics. NATS Operations Manager Deborah Guess reports that at recent NATS conferences, there were 56 Canadian and 20 international attendees in 2014 (Boston), and 20 Canadian and 22 international attendees in 2016 (Chicago). NATS Office Membership Coordinator Amanda Wood notes that international NATS members outside North America have averaged 144 over the past three years.
Executive Director Allen Henderson provided this background at the 2016 Chicago Conference (printed in the fall Inter Nos): "Many years ago wise leaders in NATS debated the question of whether NATS should indeed seek to be the world-wide organization for voice teachers. They determined that the voice community would be much better served across the globe if NATS lent its expertise and years of experience in becoming the leading professional association for voice teachers, shared best practices, and planted seeds and tended them among and with our colleagues in other countries. As a result NATS has helped birth nearly thirty sister organizations. The current total membership of those organizations worldwide exceeds 12,000 individuals and is a testament to the decision made years ago. Integral to this growth is a wise shepherd, Marvin Keenze, who has travelled the world as NATS' representative and helped birth many of these sister organizations. In addition, he was integral to the development of the ICVT."
One of our sister European organizations is the Associazione Insegnanti di Canto Italiana (AICI), Italy's association for voice teachers. When I was in Rome, I met with Elizabeth Aubry, its vice president and also international representative. Elizabeth has a unique perspective, as she has lived in Rome for 30 years, but was born and educated in the U.S. She and I had a lively and engaging conversation about the challenges and opportunities for our singing teacher associations and the desire to network and think more globally. In her words, "I'm so glad to hear that you want NATS to become more globally oriented. For me, it means coming closer to us over here in Italy, where keeping our association active and moving forward has proven to be an enormous challenge! It also gives me a stimulus to work on the same idea from the European/Italian standpoint. I think that this could be an interesting subject to approach at the ICVT this summer--the reasons for and practical ways to implement a more global approach in exchanges between voice professionals."
While there is more to be done, we can all take pride in how NATS serves our pedagogy colleagues across the world particularly through its growing online presence; this includes Intermezzo, Inter Nos, its website, NATS Live Learning Center, our digital Journal of Singing, NATS Chats, vocapedia.info, and the new So You Want to Sing book series (Rowman and Littlefield, publishers). These are resources that not only benefit our North American members who do not physically live near a NATS chapter, but serve our international colleagues as well.
As an example, while I was in Europe, this timely email came from our journal's editor, Richard Sjoerdsma: "You will be interested to know that the latest edition of Le journal de l'association franAs.aise des professeurs de chant (No. 23, October 2016) contains, with my permission, of course, two articles from the Journal of Singing, both translated by Claudia Phillips:
* 'Deciphering Vocal Demands for Today's Broadway Leading Ladies,' Warren Freeman, Kathryn Green, and Philip Sargent (JOS 71, no. 4 [March/April 2015]).
* 'Motor Learning and Voice Training: Locus of Attention,' Lynn Helding (JOS 72, no. 1 [September/October 2015])."
Richard notes, "This continues a practice that began--and continues--with translations of JOS articles into German from time to time for Vox Humana. I consider it important to nurture such relationships between NATS and the Journal of Singing and our sister organizations/publications in other countries."
"Relationships" are key to our discussion, and here are few examples from my recent travels. As I strolled about the Roman Coliseum and Forum, I suddenly heard singing voices. Naturally, I followed the sounds! In a small church I discovered two choirs rehearsing for an evening concert. The young woman directing the group told me that her community choir (ages 17-55) from Varsavia, Poland, had been invited to join a community choir from Rome in concert. Their program included selections by standard composers in Italian and Latin. As I listened to them rehearse, imagine my amazement when I heard the lovely "Gloria" by Ohio composer Craig Courtney. We know that music is the international language, but it never ceases to astound me when I experience this first-hand.
Most recently, I visited the NATS Central Region Auditions and Conference, held in Iowa City. There were several presentations on the value of study abroad, including short-term programs, choir tours to Europe, and a moving account of one tour to South Africa where choir students stayed with local families. We are reminded of the value of study abroad experiences for our own students, immeasurable in their musical, historical, and personal growth, and in the development of cross-cultural relationships and understanding.
Therefore, as you consider proposing break-out sessions and poster presentations for the 2018 NATS national conference in Las Vegas, please consider topics of an international nature. I assure you that continuing to explore NATS's international opportunities will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Directors.
As an appropriate closing to this on-going discussion, I wanted to recognize World Voice Day 2017 on April 16. Annual themes are selected by the Voice Committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-HNS. This is the 10th year for WVD, and the theme is "Share Your Voice." As voice teachers our world is constantly expanding. Let us take this time to reflect on our own globally enriching experiences and share our voices and these experiences with our students. Let us continue to find ways to share our unique voices with one another and with those across the continents, and to build new relationships. May we listen and grow together.
"Share your voice"--for a lifetime!
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|Title Annotation:||National Association of Teachers of Singing; From the President|
|Author:||Snyder, Linda J.|
|Publication:||Journal of Singing|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2017|
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