History of AATS

The American Academy of Teachers of Singing (AATS) was founded in 1922 by a group of fifteen men, all members of the profession of the teaching of singing. The founders hoped to contribute to the profession from the standpoints of both teaching and ethics, contributions they individually could not hope to make and such as a large organization might not find practical to undertake. Because they believed that a small group would better accomplish these goals, they chose to limit membership to only 40 individuals. Thus, banded together for the purpose of initiating and furthering constructive activities, inspired by a common motive, and pledged to a spirit of selflessness, they formed The American Academy of Teachers of Singing.

The charter members were Walter L. Bogert, William S. Brady, Dudley Buck, George Fergusson, Yeatman Griffith, George Hamlin, Frederick H. Haywood, Sergei Klibansky, Gardner Lamson, Francis Rogers, Oscar Saenger, Oscar Seagle, George E. Shea, Percy Rector Stephens, and Herbert Witherspoon.

The Academy will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022. For almost a century the Academy has championed various aspects of the profession as a whole. Listed below are some unique events of the Academy’s early history, as well as more recent items, which may be of particular interest to those concerned with various legal and ethical activities of the profession.

Important Academy Events

1922 The Academy organized and led a successful movement to prevent the licensing of teachers of singing by the municipal authorities of New York.

1928 The Academy secured financial aid from the Carnegie Corporation to further the investigation by Professor G. Oscar Russell of Ohio State University into the investigation of vocal production and enlisted the aid of famous singers for demonstration purposes in this regard.

1927-30 The Academy assisted the Federal Trade Commission with advice and information in the conduct of the Commission’s case against “The Perfect Voice Institute” of Chicago, which resulted in an order forbidding the respondents to continue their false and misleading statements and their unfair methods of competition.

1930 The Academy brought about by intervention in the New York City Zoning Law Case in an appeal to the highest courts of New York State, the Court of Appeals, whose decision affirmed the status of teachers of music as professional people and assured them the right to practice their profession unhindered by the provisions of the Zoning Law.

1930-33 The Academy held in New York the first of a series of public contests for solo singing by high school students from various cities. Conducted a similar contest in Chicago assisted by the Chicago Council of Teachers of Singing. Transferred the holding of such contests to the Music Educators National Conference with agreement to cooperate.

1933 The Academy sponsored ten nationwide broadcasts over NBC network on “Singing, The Wellspring of Music.”

1936 The Academy conducted voice clinics at the convention of the Music Educators National Conference and assisted in the creation of the National School Vocal Association, formed to develop all types of vocal music in the public schools.

1932-44 The Academy conducted the voice forums at the annual conventions for the Music Teachers National Association.

The significant role played by the Academy in vocal music education through its contributions to the MENC and MTNA is preserved in the published Proceedings of these organizations for the periods shown above.

In 1941, after some years of deliberations, the Academy adopted a resolution to sponsor a national organization. In cooperation with the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild and The New York Singing Teachers’ Association, a comprehensive plan was developed and the National Association of Teachers of Singing was founded in 1944.

1945-Present Members of the Academy have consistently served in leadership positions in the above-named organizations. For much of this time a member of the Academy has served as editor of the leading journal in the field, The Journal of Singing. Members have made significant contributions to the annual Symposia on the Care of the Professional Voice, sponsored by the Voice Foundation, and to international congresses, institutes and festivals.

Members continue to participate in a wide variety of professional engagements including teaching, lecturing, conducting master classes, and adjudicating competitions. A number of members have published significant books and articles, and the Academy contributes regularly to the Journal of Singing, the official journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Many members have had active performing careers singing at major opera houses, as well as in concert, recital, and recordings. The Academy has included members whose backgrounds include both classical and commercial music training.