2011 Fall Chapter Meeting a Night of FIRSTS!

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A night of FIRSTS!
Our FIRST fall banquet…
Our FIRST NATS Auditions scheduled through the new online format…
Our FIRST time hearing opera stage director Tom Diamond…

Over 35 members were welcomed to the Monte Carlo Inns Vaughan Suites on Friday, November 18, 2011 for our annual fall meeting and our newly annual fall banquet. All of the travel-weary teachers were met with an intimate setting of wine and cheese and beautifully decorated tables all made possible by Co-Vice President of Special Events Alison Moodie.

The evening was started with our meeting and an overview of the NATS Auditions day to be held the next morning at York University. Auditions Coordinator Michelyn Wright discussed the new online registration and how it worked very well, even with a few wrinkles and glitches along the road! We will continue to use this software, and she will try to streamline some things for next year.

One of the major concerns from teachers was the amount of work it was to input all the data on their students. Michelyn let us know that the software was created as a teacher input application only and if teachers were to give students their login information, students have access to all the other students’ private information which is a violation of NATS’ privacy issue. The upside is that once you have input student information, this data is saved for subsequent years. Additionally, while each member does their own input, there is less work for Michelyn and so the volunteer load of putting on the Auditions is shared among all of us! To make it easier, Vice President of Membership Lindsay Isaac will create a YouTube video of a demo online registration as an aid for those having trouble navigating the system for next year. Hindsight being 20/20, we will continue to improve how we function for the NATS Auditions process!

It was also officially announced that will be holding the 2012 Chapter Auditions at Wilfrid Laurier University. Friday, November 16, 2012 will be a continuation of our Fall meeting and Guest Speaker event while Saturday, November 17th, 2012 will be the Auditions. Details will be announced in the Spring, but plan to book this date in your calendar now! Let us know your thoughts on this event – what you would like to do, who you would like to hear, where you would like to stay by leaving a COMMENT below. We hope you will cancel that Saturday studio teaching day from your 2012/13 calendar and join us!

From the meeting, our evening moved on to a buffet dinner that was a lovely presentation of roast beef, fresh pasta, green salad, a cheese platter and a variety of sweets and chocolates for dessert. The wine on the table was flowing and everyone had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones!

During dessert, Co-Vice President of Special events, Elizabeth McDonald introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Mr. Tom Diamond by saying:

“By process of the seven degrees of separation of Canadian Opera, we all know Tom already. In fact we really only need one degree of separation – either you have already worked with Tom directly or know someone who has … By the way he directs an opera, Tom has at once a bachelor of humor, a master of psychology, a doctorate in acting technique and a lifetime as a four star military general …This evening Tom has agreed to share with us ways to help our students delve into the characters of their songs, to demand more of our students in their final presentation of their repertoire and to push our students to be better than they thought they could be by finding their true fullness of being.”

Tom’s talk was an eye opener for all of us present whether we had worked with him or not!

Through hilarious personal stories and amusing antidotes, Tom posed the questions:

“What is acting?
Why do our opera training programs not have acting coaches? Why do our singers not know the technique of acting?”

He positioned that we don’t need more singers in the world, we need more artists. And from there, Tom discussed first the methods of acting and the various ideas and processes for gathering technique.

During the second section of his talk Tom answered those questions with an overview of his personal ideas of how to motivate and train a singer. When working with a singer he poses the following questions about the character/role: 1. Who am I?

2. What is my relations to….(objects, people, etc)?

3. Where am I?

4. What time is it (historical context)?

5. What do I want?

His ultimate question for any character is “What is my SUPER INTENTION?” What is the over lying theme of the story that motivates all actions of that character?

A well laid out and inspiring talk that befits the excellent stage director that he is, Tom Diamond was a thrill to hear live in such an intimate setting! His talk was finished with a gracious thank you from Chapter President Catherine Robbin and the evening adjourned to more coffee and informal discussion.

Of course this is only a quick bite of the many conversations had by those present. I could hear ideas being shared, recitals being planned and people meeting their colleagues for the first time.

You will get detailed minutes of the meeting at a later date however, feel free to share your feedback on the evening, your favorite TOM-ism, something that you were surprised to learn, a person you were excited to meet or any thoughts that will help us plan future events in the COMMENTS section below!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the spring meeting on May 5, 2012 – stay tuned for more details!

Photos courtesy of Mei Lee.

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4 thoughts on “2011 Fall Chapter Meeting a Night of FIRSTS!

  1. The banquet was indeed a memorable event. I loved having a chance to chat with members old and new, getting to know some people who have only been names on a list to me before, and greeting new members like Sonia Nunes (a former student!) and Melanie Conly whom I recently heard sing some stunning Mozart. Our members are wonderful people doing inspiring work and I’m so grateful that so many of you made time in your busy lives to come out and share with us at the meeting and in the social time that surrounded it.

    Of course we also had the opportunity to hear Tom Diamond talk about acting. I was taking notes furiously as many others were. My favourite ‘Tomism” was this: “Your desire to be perfect has nothing to do with learning.” He went on to explain that learning requires risk, and involves getting messy sometimes, “stinking up the place”, as he put it. We all know students who just want to “get it right” right now but they are not wiling to risk really trying something new and possibly uncomfortable. What I’d really love is to take Tom into my studio for few days. Wouldn’t that be fun!

    Thanks again to all the executive members who made the banquet such a success. I really hope more members will come next year in Waterloo. It’s so worthwhile! Thanks also to Michelyn Wright for another well-run auditions day and for weathering the first run of online registrations and computer-assisted scheduling. Brava! And one more thank-you to Lindsay Isaac who has made such a success of this website. Great job, Lindsay!

    Merry Christmas, Everyone.
    Catherine Robbin

  2. Well done, everyone! My couple of comments to please consider for next year:
    1) Some of the other teachers also looked for a “master list” — it was not on the website. I checked 3 times. So, I missed hearing some people. Please, could we have access to a master list?
    2) The timing was done differently (we used to schedule an extra 2 minutes to enter/exit the room). It works fine this way, now that we know that the students have to hit the floor singing! However, in one room the teachers were stopping the students to ask “what will you be singing? What order do you want to sing them in” That took away valuable singing time, and was completely unnecessary, as the songs are listed on the sheet, and within 2 bars you should know what song it is. If you can’t tell what language someone is singing, that’s a big problem!
    3) We need the “2nd letter” posted on the website in a way that we can download it and then send it out by email to our students and accompanists. Remember that one? The 2nd letter gives the order of events for the day, where the results will be posted, where to pick up the sheets, what time and where the final concert is, etc. etc. Also, special notes about “no food is available to buy in the building”, where to park, where to buy food, or other such things. Also, it would be most helpful to have the order of the concert listed. Accompanists sometimes really have to plan carefully (not to mention parents and the rest of us). Of course, we strongly encourage them all to stay for the whole thing.
    Thanks everyone, it was a blast!

  3. Watching these photos of our Fall Meeting go flickering by on the website is bringing back happy memories of a very convivial evening together. How wonderful to renew old friendships, to strengthen collegial bonds, to make new acquaintances and professional contacts, and to hear such a passionate and insightful speaker. This is NATS at the chapter level at its BEST!
    Thank you to the NATS Ontario Executive for arranging this marvelous weekend – you imagined it and worked hard to bring it to reality. Here’s to many more!

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