The weekend of March 23rd through the 24th, ten students from Covenant College’s Music Department traveled to Auburn University to compete in the Southeastern Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (S.E.R.N.A.T.S.).
This competition is held in different cities every year to bring music majors across the region together in one place to compete. In order to compete at S.E.R.N.A.T.S., you must have taken voice lessons from a N.A.T.S. member for at least six months. Students are judged on tone, breathing/alignment, language/diction, and expression/artistry. Freshman and sophomores in college must prepare three pieces representing three different time periods and two different languages. Juniors and seniors must have four pieces from four time periods, representing at least three languages.
This year, ten Covenant students competed against students from the largest music programs in the southeast, such as Auburn University, Florida State University, Georgia Southern University, and Samford University. These students included seven sophomores (Sarah Huskey, Hannah Pulliam, Mark Perry, Andrew Luchenbill, Marie Bowen, Abbs Kern, and Milagro Guerra) and three seniors (Amanda Neilson, Sammie Brown, and William Darby). Sophomores Marie Bowen, (Musical Theater category and student of Professor Funke), and Sarah Huskey, (Classical category and student of Professor DuRoy), advanced to the semi-final round of student auditions.
Bowen had very positive things to say about her second year competing at N.A.T.S. “I really enjoyed getting critiques back that were different from last year. I feel like I have improved a lot in my vocal studies and have new things to work on. Making it to semi-finals again was awesome and I felt so supported by the other Covenant students and my amazing voice teacher, Professor Funke. I felt much more confident in my musical theatre pieces this year and was proud to represent Covenant at N.A.T.S.”
Professor Duroy continued to speak highly of the students from Covenant saying, “I am so proud of all of our students’ hard work and commitment to excellence. The students’ scores and excellent feedback from the judges reflected their technical, musical, and artistic growth since competing in N.A.T.S. last spring.” All N.A.T.S. teachers are assigned judging responsibilities the weekend of the competition, but when Professors Duroy and Funke were not in the adjudication room with the judges, they spent time working with their students individually to warm up their voices. They tended to work on details specific to their students’ repertoire and voices so students could move confidently from the practice room to the adjudication room.
All the students who attended N.A.T.S. expressed their thankfulness for the opportunity to learn and grow as musicians from this experience. They are hoping to use the responses from judges to improve their vocal instruments and better prepare for next year's competition.