Academic journal article Journal of Singing

A Conversation with Marvin Keenze: 75th Anniversary of NATS

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

A Conversation with Marvin Keenze: 75th Anniversary of NATS

Article excerpt

In keeping with the theme of this anniversary issue of Journal of Singing, I was asked to interview Marvin Keenze, International Coordinator for NATS and long-time member of the Association. Marvin, who was honored with the NATS Lifetime Achievement Award of the 2018 Las Vegas Conference, has exhibited extensive institutional memory, into which I tapped during our recent telephone conversation.

Leslie Holmes: NATS was founded on March 23, 1944, in Cincinnati at a Music Teachers National Association [MTNA] Convention. There were committees from three organizations: The American Academy of Teachers of Singing, The Chicago Singing Teachers Guild, and The New York Singing Teachers Association. There were five founding fathers, who became the first five presidents over the first ten years. They were John Wilcox, Leon Carson, Richard DeYoung, Homer Mowe, and Walter Allen Stubs. Three were from Chicago and two were from New York. Under Wilcox, The Bulletin became the official publication, and under Carson, the first woman was elected as a Vice President-Helen Steen Huls. Under Richard DeYoung, the first chapters were formed: Boston, Colorado, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Marvin Keenze: So, three cities and one state. That's good.

LH: And the NATS seal was designed by President Carson. Under Homer Mowe, the first Canadian members were admitted in 1950. Mowe also donated the president's gavel that he had carved in 1951. Also, in 1951, the first NATS convention was held without partnering with MTNA.

MK: I read, too, that there was a time when people wanted NATS to be a member of MTNA, and that it was voted down.

LH: Yes. That is true. To top it all off, NATS is now the largest professional association of voice teachers in the world.

MK: That's right. Now, if you look at Europe, they have their own European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA). All the European countries are together, as well as independent. I don't know what EVTA membership is, but I don't think it's as big as NATS. It's a pretty big size, when you put them all together.

LH: You were appointed International Coordinator for NATS in 1990, and have been responsible for at least 25 international associations of voice teachers. Are they called NATS?

MK: There are more, now. They are called ICVT, the International Congress of Voice Teachers. I know the history of that really well. NATS is the financial and legal center of the ICVT. There is a joint venture agreement that all members of the associations are supposed to sign, saying that they will support the whole association of ICVT. It was written in 1994 and redone in 2001. It is called the Joint Venture Agreement.

LH: Those members don't count in the approximately 7,300 of NATS members, correct?

MK: Well, some are NATS members. Now that each country has its own association, they may not want to pay the NATS dues. It's up to them if they want to join NATS. Before they had their own associations, we had international NATS members. I don't know if they have ever counted up what the membership is in every country. We have at least 32 national associations. Some of these associations come and go. They're doing really well, and then they disappear. Then they may come back. The European Voice Teachers Association is now supposed to keep track of their own members. I encourage them, when we are looking for a congress [venue], and I correspond with them. Two members from each association are on the committee that meets only when we are meeting together, and they approve, by vote, the site of the next congress. In Stockholm, at our last meeting, we had a presentation from Austria. They had a group of about 15 people there to give this presentation. Since there was only one presentation, we had to approve it. We've had as many as three associations all do presentations, and then we vote to approve where it will be. I am the International Coordinator and ... the Chair of ICVT. One of my jobs is to find associations that want to host this. …

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