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UM Musical Team Shares Experience, Solutions with National Audience

Voice teachers, singers, music educators and others around the country will tune in later this month to hear two University of Mississippi professionals discuss thinking differently – and more effectively – about training young musicians for a full, varied career that is increasingly the norm.

Brady Bramlett (left) and Nancy Maria Balach perform together during an episode of ‘LMR Live,” an online production of the Living Music Resource at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The days of preparing students for two main career paths – educator or performer – have shifted, and entrepreneurial skills that boost the value of a degree in music are imperative, say Nancy Maria Balach and Brady Bramlett. This is the message at the core of their June 27 presentation at the virtual National Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

“Our presentation introduces specific ways to enhance existing degree programs with educational experiences and career development opportunities that stimulate interdisciplinary projects, create community partnerships, open new funding sources and prepare students for a 21st-century ‘mosaic’ career in music,” Balach said.

Balach and Bramlett direct the Living Music Resource, or LMR, an Ole Miss program that gives students a chance to engage in music-based projects outside the classroom that make an impact in communities. By taking on leadership roles, students build skills they’ll need in their careers.

As managing director of LMR and a development officer at the UM Foundation, Bramlett brings an expertise in branding, fundraising and philanthropic giving.

“I was also able to talk about my own mosaic career: from my time as a student-athlete and performer to my current roles as an administrator and development officer who weaves my passions into my professional career and everyday life,” he said. “I am living proof that many people who work in music take multiple paths.”

Balach is CEO and artistic director of LMR, interim chair of the UM Department of Music and an experienced voice teacher.

“It’s an honor to have been selected to present at the national NATS conference,” Balach said. Fewer than 25% of those who submitted proposals were accepted as conference presenters, she explained.

This will be Balach’s third time to present at the association’s national conference.

She brings a breadth of experience to the session, covering topics such as ways that teachers and students with limited resources can explore music entrepreneurship and community engagement; how music connects with other disciplines to create cultural, economic and social impact; and how LMR has evolved into an umbrella brand.

“I’ll also explore the validity and purpose of a music degree in today’s world and share ways that an individual – student or teacher – can begin the process of enhancing and expanding music degree programs,” Balach said.

Founded in 1944, NATS is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, with more than 7,000 members in the U.S., Canada and more than 35 other countries. Working in independent studios, community schools, elementary and secondary schools, or higher education, NATS members represent the diversity of today’s music landscape, teaching in all vocal styles.

To learn more about the conference, visit https://www.nats.org/Virtual_2020_-_Registration.html. Because of COVID-19-related restrictions, the conference is entirely online, making it more affordable to participate this year. “It’s only $46 for students,” Balach said.

Balach and Bramlett pre-recorded their presentation. NATS will release it to conference attendees on June 27, and the pair will participate in a live Q&A that evening.

By Lynn Adams Wilkins

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