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MacKenzie Kerr, sophomore in vocal and flute performance, and Peyton Simpson, sophomore in music, rehearse together on Jan. 31. The two students placed in the Midwest Division of vocal music's competition. Alyssa Tyler

Students compete at regional music competition

MacKenzie Kerr, sophomore in vocal and flute performance, and Peyton Simpson, sophomore in music, rehearse together on Jan. 31. The two students placed in the Midwest Division of vocal music’s competition. Alyssa Tyler

Competitions can provide a proving ground for students in a certain subject to showcase the hard work they have put in to excel at their field. For students of some of PSU’s vocal performance instructors, the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) regional-level competition presents the perfect challenge.

The west central regional NATS competition, which includes the states of Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, was held virtually throughout November, with finals results announced on Dec. 4. Participants in the competition were divided both by collegiate year and by voice type (treble or tenor/baritone/bass). Additionally, students were able to compete in either the classical music or musical theater genres.

“I had four students that competed,” said Lydia Bechtel, assistant instructor of voice and music history. “Three of the students made it to the semi-finals, which means they made it to the top ten of their division. Then two students made it to finals, which means they made it to the top five in their division.”

MacKenzie Kerr, sophomore in music, placed fifth in the first-year college classical treble voices category, and Peyton Simpson, sophomore in music, placed fourth in the first-year college musical theatre tenor/baritone/bass category.

“This year we recorded pieces for two separate sections, classical and musical theatre,” Kerr said. “I auditioned in both, so I chose three pieces that I had to record for each section. I recorded a video of the three pieces and uploaded them for each section, then I personally got into finals, which means two-out-of-three scores had to be 90 out of 100 or above. If you made it into semi-finals, you would choose one of the three pieces that you wanted them to judge for semi-finals. After a while final (results) came out, and I got fifth place in classical.”

 Pieces of music in the classical category could be in a variety of languages (such as “Nell,” a French song performed by Simpson as part of his classical repertoire), and pieces performed in the musical theatre category could be from very well-known musicals, such as “Pippin,” to not-as-well-known musicals like “She Loves Me.”

“The teachers that are a part of the association (NATS), they judged (our videos), and then those with the higher scores moved on,” Simpson said. “You’re supposed to pick one song per category to use as your submission for (finals), so since I advanced to semi-finals in both classical and musical theater, I chose ‘Nell’ and ‘Lost in the Waves’ as my submissions. There was another round of judging, then I made it to finals in musical theater. I watched the online awards ceremony, and I got fourth place.”

Students interested in participating in either vocal competitions or vocal training should seek out either vocal music faculty like Lydia Bechtel, contact the music department for more details, or visit the music office in McCray 103.

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