AOTOS Summer Conference 2016

Jul 25, 2016

EVTA Secretary Susan Yarnall Monks wrote a report of the AOTOS (The Association of Teachers of Singing) Summer Conference 2016 where EVTA president Outi Kähkönen was speaking. The conference took place from 22nd tp 24th July 2016 at the University of Chester, UK.


"This was an excellent conference and I left buzzing with new ideas, of saying the same things in new ways and also new approaches for teaching my singers.


Friday July 22

We began with a welcome from Penny Price Jones, doing her last conference before she hands over to Ivor Flint (EVTA remembers him from Ljubljana on the digital technology project). 



We then had an inspiring talk from Dr. Ron Morris who managed to be wise and funny with his approach to holistic teaching and singing. The incredible David Howard followed with his take on tuning for choirs using his amazing knowledge of acoustics. He always manages to make it understandable even though it seems incomprehensible. He is an old friend of EVTA having skyped his lecture when we were in Helsinki 2012. Again great ideas in an entertaining presentation.


An excellent supper followed by an all important talk on how English should be sung by Liza Hobbs. Outi Kähkönen our President was delighted to learn even more nuances in our language and this was followed by a performance of Vaughn Williams Serenade to Music, which we managed to recreate after a fashion.


Saturday July 23

Saturday morning found us still rather warm, an unusual experience in an English summer, but we were delighted to have Kristin Linklater (whom Penny had seen at Eurovox in Riga) and once again this magician of the voice 'warmed our voices and opened our minds' as she demonstrated her skills.



Then it was Outi's turn to talk about the values of EVTA and our networking around Europe, with a few references to Brexit but I think the mood was very positive towards EVTA and the work we are doing across Europe to further good quality singing teaching.


Ron Morris did an excellent workshop with some of the young teachers demonstrating again his skills as a teacher over a broad range of genres and voices. Dr. Jenevora Williams reminded is how important it is to take care over the language we use in our studios, full of insights and useful tips.

We had a very stimulating session looking at Italian, French, Spanish, Welsh and German songs and how to deal with IPA and language subtleties.

An inspiring session with composer Jonathan Dove meant we heard some of his wonderful songs sung by some talented young singers and we were all determined to use his songs with our students. He is published by Peters Edition and is well worth exploring!


A Forum with a panel from the faculty meant an interesting discussion followed supper but by this time my head was reeling and I started to make sense of my hurriedly written notes. We had had a full and packed day.


Sunday July 24

Sunday morning we had another searching session with Kristin who managed to get us sighing and feeling and singing with raw voice.



Outi then explained her approach to teaching and worked with some young singers. The AGM was followed by an interesting workshop with Gillyanne Keyes and Jeremy Fisher who we saw in Riga working together with excellent results on the singers.


All in all an inspiring conference, so good to see AOTOS in good spirits and strength with lots of young teachers from all over the UK and I left with a pile of useful tips and ideas!"


Dr. Susan Yarnall Monks