JSU vocal students participate in national voice competition

A group of JSU students performed in the national voice competition as part of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. (Courtesy of NATS)A group of JSU students performed in the national voice competition as part of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. (Courtesy of NATS)

Ashleigh Crouch, Correspondent

Earlier this month, several Jacksonville State voice students participated in the Alabama chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition.

NATS is a national voice competition in which students and teachers of all different vocal styles and ranges come together to showcase their talent in competition. 

Every state has its own NATS competition, and schools within the state send their best vocal students to compete in their NATS competition.

Of the students from JSU that competed in this year’s Alabama NATS competition, five JSU students placed as finalists: Rylee Hancock, Silas Tankersley, Josh Castillo, Kaelyn Harris and Esther Shull. 

Each of these students studied under voice professors in JSU’s David L. Waters Department of Music for months in preparation for the competition.

Rylee Hancock, a tenor who placed second in the state in his division, said that he was “absolutely thrilled” about his placement in this division. 

“The process leading up to this moment has been hours and hours of studying the music, language, and emotion of the pieces as well as, and most importantly, the vocal technique,” said Hancock. 

Hancock studied under Eric Wilcox, an adjunct lecturer in JSU’s music department, and thanked him for having “taught [him] everything [he] knows.” 

Silas Tankersley, a baritone who placed second in the state in his division, discussed the hours and hours of practice he spent preparing to compete in NATS. 

“Setting apart practice time is vitally important, and I’ve always found exercise to be a good motivator,” said Tankersley. “I think that’s the beauty of it, though. Everyone prepares differently.” Tankersley studied under Nathan Wright in JSU’s music department. 

Josh Castillo, a baritone who placed third in the state in his division, talked about how diligently he had to practice each individual note of each of his pieces in order to perfect them for NATS.

“The songs I present require many hours in a practice room,” said Castillo. “Whether it was plucking out my notes on the piano one by one, or forgetting words in the process, I enjoyed every moment because I knew it would all pay off for the NATS Competition.” 

Castillo also studied under Wilcox and credited him for helping him find his voice as a baritone, saying that he will “always be fortunate” for the opportunity to study under Wilcox.

Kaelyn Harris, a soprano who placed fourth in her division, lamented on how helpful the JSU music department was in preparing her as a freshman to succeed in NATS.

“Eric Wilcox, my vocal instructor, has supplied me with the tools I have needed to fulfill my full potential,” said Harris. “I definitely wouldn’t have been given this opportunity if it weren’t for my amazing teachers and mentors from the Dr. David L. Walters Music Department.”

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