Liberty Students receive honors at the National Association of Teachers of Singing

Liberty University School of Music students competed in the annual National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)  spring conference Feb. 14-15. It was held at Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia, taking home several top finishes, allowing them to move on to the regional competition at the University of South Carolina next month. 

Dr. Mark Greenawalt, chair for the department of applied music studies and associate professor of voice at Liberty University, said Liberty students typically do very well in the competition, with 75% progressing to the regional level last year.

“While the students may be nervous in varying degrees, these students are well-prepared by their professors, and their faith in Christ is where they put their trust.” Greenawalt said.

Dr. Samantha Miller, professor of voice at Liberty, had every one of her students she coaches make honors and move on to regionals. Sarah Behnke was one of those students who made it into honors in the Sophomore Women’s Classical division.

“Everyone in my studio placed,” Behnke said. “Seeing all my friends make the list of honors singers was a really special moment for all of us and Dr. Miller.”

Senior fine arts major Becca Schultz won first in the Senior Women’s Musical Theater division as well as Best Overall Women’s Theater Performance.

NATS was founded in 1944 at an Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) convention through the efforts of three organizations: American Academy of Teachers of Singing, the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild and the New York Singing Teachers Association.

The mission of NATS is “To encourage the highest standards of the vocal art and of ethical principles in the teaching of singing; and 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,” according to its website.

The competition is divided into two categories: musical theater and classical. Students are allowed to participate in one or both categories. Singers must score above a 90 from a panel of judges to receive an honor score and move to the next competition.

Alexis Rouse also moved along to regionals placing first in the Sophomore Women’s Classical division, and Rebekah Degroff placed third in the same division.

The winner of each category is decided by highest averaged score in their category, so there are multiple winners per college level and category.

“We also have had 1st place winners in two to three categories every year since I have been involved here at Liberty.” Greenawalt said.

Before the regional competition in South Carolina, Behnke said students competing in the next round will be polishing up their songs with their voice coaches, giving them the best chance to move on from the regional competition to nationals. 

A full list of the NATS competition winners in Norfolk, Virginia, is on the Virginia NATS website. 

Troutman is the news editor. Follow her on Twitter.

Tarr is a news reporter. Follow her on Twitter.

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