Karen Brunssen - Past President of NATS, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Susan Yarnall-Monks - President of EVTA, University of Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex, UK

Sandra Oberoi - Harmony - The Music School, Bengaluru, India

Stephen Ng - West Chester University of Pennsylvania, from Hong Kong, China

Bronwen Forbay - Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, from South Africa

Caroline Schiller - Memorial University, St. Johns, Newfoundland Canada

Allen Henderson - Executive Director of NATS, Georgia Southern University, USA

Alexander Lee, Marshall University in West Virginia, Huntington, West Virginia, from South Korea

Martin Vacha - Chair of the 10th ICVT 2022, Unversity of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Austria

Diana Alan - President of NATS, Missouri Southern State University, USA

Ellen Pieterse, Musical Theater at the ArtEZ conservatoire,  The Netherlands

Carole Blankenship, Immediate Past-President of NATS, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, USA

Sarah Holman, NATS International Region Governor, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, USA

Advancing International Connectivity among Voice Teachers

Since 1987, when the first ICVT was held in Strasbourg, international connectivity among voice teachers has been enhanced every four years. The desire for more frequent sharing of "vocal perspectives" has increased as we shared live and virtual conferences, presentations, and master classes, visited one another to learn and teach, visited one another's Facebook pages to communicate about common interests, and more. What factors have contributed to this? What has been gained through such experiences? This panel will offer viewpoints, examples of specific initiatives and events, newly integrated means of communication, and more that have contributed to bringing the world of singing together. What means and opportunities can facilitate how we learn and share with each other? What is the value of sharing concepts, research, priorities, and perspectives for voice teachers around the world? What are the barriers?  Should we, and if so, how do we, move this idea to a more integrated reality?  What can we carry forward from our experiences during the pandemic? Could/Should we: 

  • Invite members to one another’s conferences or activities?
  • Be international members of one another’s organizations?
  • Invite presentations for events from those outside our organizations?
  • Provide virtual access to certain events each year?
  • Hold an annual discussion with leadership?

Pedagogues representing 8+ countries will gather three times via ZOOM between October 2021 and May 2022 to discuss trends, desires, possibilities, and opportunities for more global interaction among voice pedagogues. We will have held a panel discussion at the 2022 NATS National Conference in Chicago one month prior to ICVT.  Join us to hear perspectives and ideas from this panel that may shape the beginnings of regular international interconnectivity about singing and "FOR THE SAKE OF MUSIC."


Dr Heather Fletcher is a Lecturer in Music (Opera Performance) at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on social and music psychology, both in the field of vocal pedagogy and the practices of voice teachers as well as examining how music making/listening impacts well-being in everyday life. Research interests include: how voice teachers communicate their methodology and engage with their students; what defines an exemplary music teacher; how well-being in influenced by music making/listening; and analysing states of flow in live performance.

Defining the Expert Voice Teacher: A Narrative Review of the Literature

Expertise is a domain-specific concept distinguished by individual characteristics, knowledge, skillset, and performance. However, there are currently no commonly regarded criteria for defining an expert voice teacher, specifically in relevant literature of education, music teachers, and vocal pedagogy domains. While previous studies have investigated the practices of master or exemplary voice teachers, definitions of expertise have often been determined by researchers according to the specific context of their study. A narrative literature review was conducted to establish characteristics of expert voice teachers as defined in education, music education, and vocal pedagogy research. Through the identification of patterns, trends, similarities, and/or differences in the existing theory, a coherent, comprehensive, and complex definition of voice teacher expertise emerged. Summative content analysis found that voice teacher expertise can be divided into three overarching categories with additional sub-characterisations: Experiential (e.g., performance experience, teaching experience); Relational (e.g., adapt practices to the individual, diagnose vocal problems, effective communication, demonstrate knowledge of vocal function/style); and Outcome-focused (e.g., success of students, quality of teacher’s reputation, teacher’s student pool). The majority of these defining elements depend on how a voice teacher relates to their students as well as the outcome of their practices such as their reputation and student successes. These findings have implications for developing vocal pedagogy training courses in higher education in the twenty-first century, particularly as how a voice teacher relates to their students, and the outcome of that relationship, correlates to their success as a teacher. The work also contributes to ongoing understanding of the practices of exemplary voice teachers.


BERISLAV JERKOVIC (baritone) PhD, associate professor, working at the Academy of Arts in Osijek. He teaches Voice and correspond­ing subjects (Opera Studio, Conducting, Chamber music …). He graduated in M.A. Voice at the Academy of Music in Zagreb, M.A. of Choral conducting at the Academy of Music – University in Pecs (Hungary) and  M.A. of  Music Pedagogy at the Faculty of Pedagogy in Osijek. He finished a postgraduate study of Voice at the Academy of Music in Zagreb, postgraduate studies (Voice) at the Kunst University in Graz and doctoral studies of  Vocal pedagogy at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. He made many solo roles in operas, op­erettas and musicals: Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Carmen, Gianni Schicci, La sonnambula, The Marriage of Figaro, L’elisir d’amore, Tosca, La serva padrona, Cosi fan tutte, Ero the Joker, I Pagliacci, La boheme, The Magic Flute, Camelot, Dido and Aeneas, Man of La Mancha etc. Worked with many great conductors, singer and directors. Furthermore, he gave concerts at the festivals in Croatia and abroad (Skopje summer festival, BitFest – Bitola, KotorArtSarajevo winter festival, Pecs European cultural capital … ). Per­formed at many solo recitals and concerts across Croatia as well as in Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Venezuela, USA, Belgium, China, South Africa … He has worked with the Croatian Baroque Ensembl.  He is very active in researching Arts and Science and he has participated in conferences and congresses in Bologna, Paris, Beijing, Rochester, Thessaloniki, Brisbane, Princeton. Leads master classes and professional seminars for singers, conductors, choir and vocal ensemble leaders (Croatia, Hungary, UK, France, Canada, USA, South Africa, Jordan … ). He also works as a conductor, per­forming on concerts with choirs, vocal and instrumental ensembles in Croatia and abroad. Finally, he received many awards - as a soloist as well as a conductor. Founder and artistic director of Opera Pannonica ensemble. He wrote the book Singing class curricula (2019). Head of the Department of Music and artistic director of International singing competition Lav Mirski, Osijek, CROATIA.

Partnership structuring of the singing class curricula

Curricular reforms and education system improvement processes strongly affect all constituents thereof, including the area of musical art. The omnipresent curricular activities are a clear example that all participants of the curriculum recognize and accept its philosophy as a flow of constant educational changes, supplementation, system state analysis and adequate reactions.  

Over centuries, the processes of training professional vocal artists have been systematically developed, adapted to time, artistic and social needs, and differentiated, thereby establishing characteristic national schools and stylistic directions. The professional vocal artist should be distinguished by vocal qualities and multiple professional competences that are simultaneously the starting points of a modern vocal school. The vocal curricula of today often fail to meet the set program goals and display lacking content elements, thereby hindering the acquisition of characteristic competencies commanded by contemporary vocal art. In conclusion, the existing curricula need to correlate with the needs of the art scene. The paper seeks to identify the structural elements of the current study curricula of vocal classes, attitudes and opinions of actors participating in the vocal education process, and to propose measures, contents and methods for the improvement and modernization thereof as well as alignment with the needs of professional activity. We analyzed theoretical approaches, the structure and methodology of curriculum development, vocal education and vocal classes. It also provides a historical overview of the development of vocal art and vocal pedagogy and analyzes relevant educational documents, syllabi, and didactic-methodical literature. The research part presents interviews of renowned singers in an attempt to find the characteristic information related to their educational experience, comparisons with education and systems of art and work in other countries. Here proposals are made for concrete measures and suggestions for improving educational and performing practices. Vocal students were also surveyed to collect standardized information on existing curricula, methods, means and forms of work, artistic activities, characteristic study relationships and influences. The conducted research provided information and conclusions that can enhance the higher vocal education and be useful to all system participants by providing guidelines and standards for structuring a quality, modern and purposeful vocal curriculum.


Brian Kremer is Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Music Theatre at Elon University as well as a professional singer, actor and voice instructor. He teaches courses in voice specializing in contemporary singing and performance styles including music theatre, rock, pop, country, R&B and hip-hop. His current and former students can be seen performing on Broadway, off-Broadway, on national and international tours and at various concert and commercial venues. Beyond the classroom, he is co-author of The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices; the first comprehensive resource developed for the training of transgender and nonbinary singers. He also maintains Kremer Voice Design, a private voice studio providing individualized vocal instruction. BFA, Carnegie Mellon University; MM, Manhattan School of Music.

Best Practices for Instructional Touch in the Voice Studio

Recent world events have left educators of embodied pedagogies pivoting their teaching approaches quickly. #MeToo has raised awareness about consent and abuses of power, the COVID-19 global pandemic has required teachers to develop “virtual” and “touchless” pedagogies, and the Black Lives Matter movement has amplified serious issues of systemic inequality in all facets of society, including education. In light of these lessons, many aspects of vocal education must be examined. 

One of these areas is the use of instructional touch in the voice studio. Instructional Touch is any physical contact made between instructor and student for the purpose of education. Positive and informed consent based instructional touch can benefit both teacher and student. However, instructional touch not rooted in consent-based best practices preys on the issues surrounding the imbalance of power dynamic between the teacher and student and removes the student’s agency over their own body, boundaries, and educational experience. This is usually done unintentionally as most voice teachers are not looking to harm their students but touching a student without having an established informed consent-based process can potentially cause harm. 

In a recently submitted article to the Journal of Singing, the presenters examine the systemic challenges that the traditional top-down student/teacher classroom power dynamics cause in the use of instructional touch and provide research-based tools and strategies for developing an informed consent-based practice for its use. This workshop aims to deepen the understanding of individual personal boundaries, the difference between “consent” and “informed consent” and give teachers a chance to exercise best practice tools and strategies by workshopping them on each other.

Structure of the Workshop


  • Explanation of instructional touch and the challenges it presents in vocal training

  • Examination of informed consent, power dynamics, and the traditional student/teacher relationship

  • Presentation and workshopping of research-based best practice tools and strategies 

Effective and ethical use of instructional touch requires effort, intentional planning, and an understanding of informed consent-based practices. Dedication to this work furthers the potential of each student, creates more equitable spaces, and more positive outcomes.

Brian Kremer, MM, Elon University

Kim Shively, MFA, Elon University   

LORSCH Stefanie, LING Peter Anton

Stefanie LORSCH, holds a university degree (state examination) in Romance Studies, German Studies and Musicology from the University of Karlsruhe and the University of Tübingen. As a scholarship holder of the PAD (Pedagogical Exchange Service) she taught German as a foreign language and literature at the Official School of Languages in Irún (Basque Country, Spain) from 2012 to 2013. Stefanie Lorsch is currently a PhD researcher at the Department of Linguistics the University of Mannheim (supervised by Prof Beate Henn-Memmesheimer, Prof Peter Anton Ling). She is also a secondary school teacher for Music and Rhythmics, Spanish, German, Literature and Theatre and lecturer for Rhythmics at the State Seminar for Didactics and Teacher Training in Karlsruhe. As a speaker, she takes part in national and international conferences, meetings and master classes on the ways and possibilities of communicating through the human singing voice.

Peter Anton LING, Baritone, studied Theology, Philosophy, Singing Pedagogy and Music Education (PhD) at the Universities of Munich, Mainz, Halle/Saale and the Conservatory of Mainz. From 1993 to 2000 he was a singing teacher at the Peter Cornelius Conservatory and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Since 2000 he teaches as a full professor a singing class at the University of Music and Theater Hannover, from which a large number of established opera and concert singers emerged. His pedagogy is based on the knowledge of the physiological and functional conditions of the voice, but also on the fearlessness of its owners. Peter Anton Ling is a self-evident duty to pick up singers where they are vocally standing, and to provide them with a realistic artistic and market-relevant mirror. He is regarded as a proven specialist in the vocal section of the opera and gives lectures at universities and professional associations. He thus contributes significantly to the review of the so-called German ballot system and reformed it since 2007 by the return to the purely vocal requirements of the operatic roles. Peter Anton Ling is the author and publisher of the series OperAria at the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden.

Approaches To The Singing Voice: Linguistically, Musically and Gesturally

Describing the human voice is a difficult task, so journalists and music critics have created a plethora of strong, sometimes extravagant, metaphors to characterize it.

Apart from professional writers, voice teachers and singers are also faced with the challenge of speaking adequately about the voice to work on the individual sound, to reduce the tiring of the voice, and at the same time promote stage-effective singing, all of which are the primary goals of professional singing classes. The widespread view among the professionals that it is impossible to speak objectively about the voice, or rather, that there are only a few codified terms available for it and the fact that those mentioned above constantly discuss the singing voice prompted us to investigate how communication is done in professional singing lessons.

Indeed, technical terms are available for the physiology and functionality of the voice, but they are hardly sufficient to capture the complexity of the voice. This is due to the fact that speaking about the sound of the voice is meant to create vocal incentives for the singer to overcome the discrepancy between inner and outer hearing and to guide him/her in experiencing this process reflectively. Which form of communication - linguistic, musical or gestural - is primarily used depends on the situation, the communication partners and the goal that is to be achieved with the pointing. Creative uses of words arise in and from new situations. Students learn new uses of words and thus new concepts, actions and behaviours. Musical and gestural pointing is used where linguistic competences diverge, misunderstandings become apparent where there are gaps in terminology and where linguistic coding would be too extensive, complicated, complex or disruptive.

Using specific examples, the presentation will reflect on the pragmatic availability and the semantic range of descriptions of vocal sound phenomena, and will outline the importance of engaging in a critical investigation of these communicative practices for vocal pedagogy. An exchange about the relevance of the findings for the areas in which the voice is spoken about is very welcome.


Travis SHERWOOD serves as Associate Professor of Voice and Vocal Area Coordinator on the faculty of Eastern New Mexico University, teaching voice lessons, voice pedagogy, vocal literature, and stagecraft for singers. His students have been accepted to leading graduate programs as well as won regional and district competitions. Dr. Sherwood is an active performer on the operatic, concert, and recital stages. Offstage, Dr. Sherwood frequently leads masterclasses as well as lectures and presents on the subjects of artistic literacy, voice pedagogy, and vocal literature.

Dr. Sherwood holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and a Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music; and a Bachelor of Music Degree from Westminster Choir College in music education and vocal performance. Additional studies include a certificate from the “Académie Internationale d’Eté de Nice” in “Interprétation chant & piano” under the instruction of Dalton Baldwin.

Mezzo soprano Megan DURHAM, M.M., Cert. S.V.S., RYT-200, is a voice teacher, performer, and Singing Voice Specialist (SVS) located in Louisville, KY.  As an SVS, she collaborates with medical professionals as part of a voice care team to habilitate singers diagnosed with vocal injury. Megan is a certified practitioner in YogaVoice®, LifeForce Yoga®, and Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga, and incorporates trauma-informed care into voice pedagogy.  She is a frequent clinician for choral and vocal groups throughout the country, as well as the National Association of Teachers of Singing, The Voice Foundation, and the American Choral Directors Association.

Megan holds a Master of Music degree in voice pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the University of Richmond. She completed her certification in singing voice habilitation with Dr. Karen Wicklund at the Chicago Center for Professional Voice. Megan has served on the voice faculties of DeSales University, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Voice Foundation, VASTA, Yoga Alliance, Performing Arts Medicine Association, and the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Powerful Dynamics: Exploring the Master-Apprentice Tradition in Pursuit of a More Student-Centered Pedagogy

This lecture explores one of the oldest structures of formal education, the master-apprentice tradition, and how it has both persisted and evolved in the Western classical singing community in both name and practice — masterclass, master teacher, young artist apprentice program, etc. By studying the history of the master-apprentice tradition, contemporary pedagogues may contextualize their current practices while considering modifications that may yield a more student-centered pedagogy.

The master-apprentice tradition is rooted in the experiences of the master, requiring students to value the teacher’s observations of their voice over their own. In this teacher-centered pedagogy, students frequently silence their artistic and technical instincts. This learning environment establishes a clear hierarchy of power in the teacher-student relationship. From an inferior position, students become dependent on their teachers, ignoring their bodies in pursuit of the “correct” way to sing.

Student and teacher interaction play a crucial role in the development of a student’s concept of self and their agency to embrace autonomy. Teachers and students often embrace the dependent relationship of the master-apprentice tradition as it allows them to fulfill roles they understand, and earnestly continue to honor traditions established by the great singers and pedagogues of the past. The mid-19th and early 20th-century is often regarded as the “golden age” of Western classical singing. During this time, Manuel Garcia II, Mathilde Marchesi, the Lamperti’s, among others, codified much of the Bel Canto technique that continues to resonate throughout voice studios today. Much of the research concerning these revered pedagogues focuses on what they taught, but not how they taught. However, writings of the “golden age” pedagogues and their students reveal that their primary focus was on the individual and independent development of each student. The teacher often relinquished the traditional role of “master,” and assumed the role of mentor and co-learner — listening with an empathetic ear and responding to the needs of the student while encouraging their sense of individual agency. By examining the how, contemporary pedagogues may realize adjustments in their teaching that honor and build upon the knowledge and experiences of students, ultimately devising a more student-centered pedagogy.      


David Sisco serves as adjunct voice faculty at NYU Steinhardt and regularly lectures nationally and internationally. He has presented at several NATS, ANATS, MTEA, and ICVT conferences and most recently completed a teaching tour of Australia in Summer, 2019. He taught voice at Marymount Manhattan College and was an adjunct professor at Wagner College. David is the Founder and President of, the largest online database of contemporary writers and songs. He co-authored “Mastering College Musical Auditions” with business partner Laura Josepher. He and Josepher are currently writing a textbook entitled “Performing in Contemporary Musicals,” which will be published by Routledge Press. He is the co-creator of “Draw the Circle Wide,” a video series dedicated to conversations about equity in the theatre industry with collaborator Tom Gualtieri. David also music directs, is a commissioned composer and, every once in a while, takes the stage himself. 

Whole-Hearted Teaching: Bringing a Different Kind of Science into the Studio

As voice teachers, we seek to continue growing in our pedagogical knowledge to the benefit of our students. Our ability to articulate how to obtain technical freedom and fullness of expression becomes more clearly defined when we keep our finger on the pulse of ongoing voice research. We know, however, that staying up to date on the evolution of vocal pedagogy and voice science is not enough. While we continue expanding our knowledge of the voice, we must also explore new means of communicating that knowledge in the studio. How can we circumvent the traditional hierarchy of the teacher-student relationship and hold space for our students as they attempt the incredibly vulnerable act of singing? How do we grow in our awareness of our students’ perceptions of their work and adjust our approach to help them achieve their goals? Teaching artist David Sisco will highlight how practicing curiosity, vulnerability, mindfulness, and self-care can enhance our effectiveness as voice teachers, outline the studies that illuminate them, and model how they can be applied in the studio.


Susan Yarnall Dr. S. J. Monks is currently (2017-2024) President of the European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA), she was Chair of the Association of Teachers of Singing UK (AOTOS) from 2004-2006. She was awarded her PhD for research in the Perceptions of the Singing Voice in 2007 from University of Sheffield UK. She currently lectures and teaches Voice at the University of Chichester.  Her research has been presented at International Congresses in London, Vancouver, Helsinki, Paris, Vienna, Riga and Princeton. Her particular interest is in the Psychology of Singing, and developed from her studies into identity and adolescent voice to the way singers perceive their timbre. Her research has been published in several journals including British Journal of Music Education (2004), Singing and Journal of Singing and Contemporary Music Review (2018).

A Tower of Babel’ or Vocal Pedagogy in different languages

a panel discussion and workshop with novice teachers and guidance on the myriad terms used across our profession.

Susan Yarnall-Monks (Chair) and members of the EVTA associations with novice teachers nominated by our associations

EVTA would like to offer a workshop with a panel discussion exploring the diversity of terms across European languages when describing technical terms in vocal teaching, with the aim of beginning a long-term project to collate and cross-reference the terms commonly found amongst singing teachers. EVTA is in a strong position to begin such an exploration, and by mentoring novice teachers we plan to clarify the roots of vocal pedagogy across Europe and across genres.