From the President

Holiday greetings to you all! I hope that the close of the calendar year and the accompanying holiday celebrations allow you to spend quality time with family and friends, an opportunity to self-reflect on where you’ve been and where you are going, and a chance to rejuvenate as we leap into a new year.

It is similarly an appropriate time of reflection for our organization. MMTA has had its share of changes this year, including its revision of the MMTA Constitution and Bylaws (all changes were passed unanimously by open vote at our MMTA auditions in November) and the installation of our new, audition registration website.  I thank the MMTA Board for their hard work in realizing these changes, and the entire membership for their support in making these changes a reality, and their patience when changes didn’t go as smoothly as planned. In the coming months, the Board hopes to examine all these changes, evaluate their effects on our policies, and streamline our processes as we move forward into our next cycle of MMTA events.

A huge thank you goes out to the University of Central Missouri, who graciously hosted this year’s MMTA and MTNA State Auditions November 1-5 in Warrensburg, MO. Special thanks go to Dr. Mia Hynes, who served as site coordinator and made all run so smoothly.  We are working on finalizing the venue for 2018, and hope to have more information on the November 2018 event in the coming months.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the 2018 MTNA National Conference, March 17-21, 2018 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida (details can be found at ). If you are going to Florida, please consider attending the Gala on Monday, March 19, where we will be honoring UMKC Professor Robert Weirich as Missouri Foundation Fellow for his extraordinary contributions to music and Missouri. Please consider donating to the Foundation Fund, which supports MTNA’s programs, especially the funding of MTNA Student Competitions. If you have any questions about the event or program, please contact our Foundation Chair, Jan Houser.

Wishing you a prosperous and musical 2018!

All the Best,

Peter Miyamoto, MMTA President

Community Engagement through Choral Music in Mid-Missouri
Dr. Laura Wiebe
Assistant Professor of Music, Choir and Voice
Central Methodist University

As a college choral conductor and voice teacher, I find that music-making is not solely as an individual process, but rather a community endeavor. Whether I am conducting a choir, performing on a recital, or singing in my church choir at Missouri United Methodist, I am always thinking about the process of creating and sustaining community. Sung poetic and religious texts provide a powerful connection point for individuals from disparate backgrounds, making solo vocal and choral music an ideal arena for discovery and cultural enrichment.

In the current state of our nation, the need for new kinds of community-building is clearly quite pressing. Fortunately, with a little imagination and a lot of collaboration, it is easy for musicians to find opportunities to engage creatively with their local communities. One such opportunity presented itself to several high school colleagues and I this summer. High school choir directors Warner Bailey (Boonville High School) and Vanessa Miner (Fayette High School) were fortunate to receive a $1,500 Founders Grant from the Missouri Choral Directors Association, in support of a joint performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria in April 2018. Our goal for this project is to unite our choirs and our respective communities, and in the process, to provide our students with a high-quality choral-orchestral performing experience.

The Vivaldi project has been underway since August, and involves an approximately 140-voice mass choir of high school and college students, a chamber orchestra made up of local players, and both student and professional vocal soloists. To get our students excited about this endeavor, (and to get a head start on the music), First Baptist Church in Boonville hosted our first joint choir rehearsal this fall. In addition to the fun of combining our choirs, it was exciting to have some parents and their younger children in attendance, and to hear their enthusiasm for the project. Our choirs also separately performed several movements from the Gloria on various concerts this fall, in hopes of bolstering even more enthusiasm.

A special feature of our project—and one that was very important to us as we planned—is that we will perform the Gloria twice, on back-to-back weekends in our two communities. The concerts are scheduled for two Sundays at 7:30 p.m., and are free and open to the public. The April 22 concert is at Central Methodist University in Fayette (Linn Memorial United Methodist), while the April 29 performance will be held at historic Thespian Hall in Boonville.

So far, our students have expressed a great deal of excitement about this project from both a musical and a social standpoint. To encourage engagement, at our first joint rehearsal we intermixed our ensembles, so that students were gently guided to interact with each other.
The feedback we have received from students so far is quite positive: the high school students seem to enjoy singing with slightly older singers, while the college students thrive on being in a leadership role.

Mr. Bailey, Mrs. Miner and I feel that this project is an experience of mutual enrichment for our students and our programs. At the same time, we care deeply about the mark it will leave on our local communities. Many of our students and their families have not experienced live choral-orchestral music, and there is no telling what kinds of new opportunities and ideas will spring from this collaboration. If you have any questions about this project or would like to initiate something similar in your school, civic, or church community, I would love to talk to you about it. Feel free to contact me any time at

Author, Julia Bentley, MM Assistant Teaching Professor, Voice University of Missouri,Columbia
A Sound Investment: Using Instrumental Models to Illustrate Vocal Physiology
Voice teachers have access to a new and expanding wealth of insight into the coordination of our hidden vocal mechanism, thanks to technology and the research it has made possible. The cloak of invisibility (as well as its allure) is hard to set aside, though. I’ve had great success in studio class this year thanks to some special cameo appearances by my new colleagues among the instrumental faculty at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

A fundamental definition of a musical instrument lists some minimally shared characteristics:

·      an Energy Source
·      a Vibrator
·      a Resonator

But why settle for the bare minimum (or a bare minim, for that matter)? Understanding the correlation of surface tension and intonation via the head of a drum; non-linear source filter models via a trumpet; the role of registration/closed quotient in determining timbre via the cello; all of these have been revelatory for my student singers (many of whom are Music Education majors, who arrive much more comfortable with instrumental technique than with their own voices).

Additionally, I’m ready to blow the whistle on an unexpected nemesis! I blame the piano for the following:

·      Searing the image of separate actions for each and every note into our collective subconscious. There are 88 separate keys. Hammers strike 230 strings. This model creates a barrier to vocal legato that is devastatingly pervasive and tenacious. Like kudzu.

·      The singer’s most constant partner, without exception, models a tone that immediately decays.

I think this subliminal programming embedded in a young singer is substantial, and especially for kids fortunate enough to be working with a pianist, rather than with a sustained synthesizer sound, or a YouTube track. Both traits of this “invasive species,” though, can be flipped, and repurposed to our advantage.

·      Each of those 88 pitches, within a sustained legato line, is indeed discrete, with a unique “length.” For a singer, returning to a note means returning to that one unique configuration. You can get there again—because you’ve been there before.

·      Our “default” duo turns out to be a pairing of fundamentally distinct voices, and a gateway drug for other chamber music constellations.

There are a number of reasons that voice and piano build a successful duo. This “mismatch” in sustaining ability is actually one of them. Once the student recognizes the quick decay of this percussive instrument, the contrasting nature of our vocal production – not only sustained, but capable of nuanced, ongoing variability of volume and timbre – is made vividly clear by being thrown into sharp relief.

The insular compartmentalization within a school of music is an unavoidable consequence of busy student schedules and the importance of maintaining a focus on each student’s primary instrument. It’s also a crying shame. Never again in their careers will these musicians have such ready access to so much expertise amid a multiplicity of perspectives. Instead of turning ever inwards within the vocal area, we could demonstrate what all “sound” undertakings have in common. The rewards: a supplement to textbook graphics that offers visual and audio models to demystify the parameters of vocal function – and additionally, revealing the untapped asset of a school of music: the wide-ranging resources inherent in a community of musicians. And beyond the halls of a music school? I’d say it becomes even more imperative to actively glean insight and inspiration from a broader, more inclusive concept of musical family.

Keep an eagle eye (and a teacher’s ear) out for more instrumental models. They may clarify something you’ve been trying to illuminate in your student’s work, and just as importantly, they underscore our shared musical vocabulary.

MMTA Treasurer’s Report
December 15, 2017

Current Balances
Checking: $10,892.45
Savings: $464.23
Investments: 43,983.69
Net Worth: 55,340.37 (61,055.90 Previous Nov.)

Income                        Current            Previous Year              %Change
Advertising                       2950.00            2,845.00                     4% up
Auditions                      40,240.28         44,386.00                    10% down
Commissioned Composer 750.00               750.00                       No change                     
Dues                            3467.00            4,137.50                           17% down
Interest Earned              13.82              50.74                          151.18              
Gross Income               49,693.10        53,749.74                    8% down

Total Auditions Expenses 23,803.02         25,761.45                    8% down
Total Business Expenses  5990.77           5,923.88                              2% up
Total Conference Exp      3555.27           1,250.00                             65% up             
Total Payroll Expenses    9795.37           8,791.37                              11% up
Total Expenses             44,671.43         41,737.95                    7% up 
Net Operating Income   5,021.67         12,011.79                     101% down