The ABCs of Success

Classical Singer asked teachers what to look for in a young singer. At the 45th National Association of Teachers of Singing Convention, held in Toronto, Canada, July 3-7, we asked a cross-section of university and private teachers to considerstudents who had gone on to professional careers, or those whohad the greatest potential for career success.

“What, besides a fabulous voice, makes a student singer stand out from the crowd?”

“That’s easy: DISCIPLINE.” –Mary Mackenzie, San Diego State University and the Conservatory of Tijuana, Mexico, NATS vice president for membership.

“Positive attitude, a strong functional piano background, and naturally comfortable with his/her body–not full of tensions. Personal security and strong self-awareness (particularly important to meet the challenge of “change”); strong listening skills–in relation to music as well as to the spoken word; a pro-active and positive approach to life and learning.” –Linda Snyder, University of Dayton, NATS Regional Governor, Great Lakes Region.

“The student I’m thinking of is really smart! She thinks about how things work and feel, and incorporates them into her practice and performance. She knows she has to focus her energy and mind.” –Candace Magner, University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, advisory committee, Journal of Singing.

“Unbridled enthusiasm and high integrity. You can only go so far on talent and ambition. The most successful singers are focused on their own careers and training. They don’t hurt others with snide comments, backstabbing or by greasing palms.” –Elizabeth Blades-Zeller (Rochester, NY and Heidelberg College, OH, Opera Director; co-author of PST The Singer’s Edition, Vol. 1, 2, 3)

“The most successful singers know what their major goals in life are. They have targeted what they want to do with their voice and talent. My responsibility is to make them aware of not going too quickly!” –Philip Morgan, vocal coach/consultant, Hershey Park Entertainment.

“Depth of thought and a great spirit; great artistry and musicality at a young age. It’s what I look for when I judge competitions.” –Darleen Kliewer-Britton, Arizona State University, Coordinator of NATS Artist Awards competition.

“(The singers) stick to it and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They have an absolute belief in their ability to get there and will do what it takes, even if it means disagreeing with coaches and teachers about career direction.” –Vernon Yenne, Wichita State University, Kansas, past president of NATS.