USAO Vocal Students Compete in State Contest
CHICKASHA -- As the semester came to a close, three vocal students at the University of Science and Arts put themselves to the test and competed for singing awards at the Oklahoma National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).
Schuyler Austin, a sophomore from Ardmore, Matt Pitts, a freshman from Comanche, and Audrey Hodges, a freshman from Rush Springs, sang solos as part of the NATS conference, held April 11-12 on the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.
Each solo was judged by three vocal teachers from around the state. Students received critiques, based on their performances, and were ranked according to their score.
" This is a great opportunity for my voice students to see and hear how someone their age is developing as a classical singer," said Dr. Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music at USAO. " I competed when I was in college; it's a lot of fun."
Bohannon serves as vocal instructor for each of the students.
At the end of the weekend, Pitts emerged as the high scoring singer of the group, winning third place in the Freshman Male division.
" Matt was competing against the cream of the crop across the state of Oklahoma," Bohannon said, " including OU, OSU, OCU and OBU, which usually have winners every year. So, for little USAO, with only 35 music majors in our program, it's an honor to beat the other bigger programs."
According to Bohannon, the focus of the NATS organization 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.
" The purpose of the conference is to encourage good, healthy vocal technique in the classical repertoire -- no musical theatre or popular music --- it's just them and the piano," he said.
Each of USAO's competing students was accompanied by 2006 graduate Rhenada Finch, who serves also as accompanist for USAO's Vocal Jazz Ensemble.