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Seaver College Students Earn Accolades at National Academic Conference

Final performance site

Eight Seaver College students recently traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, in order to participate in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Cal-Western Regional Conference and Auditions (NATS). At the event, Sarai Flores, Emma Hirte, Zoe O’Donnell, Lucy Schene, Mia Stulac, and Miara Williams all earned honors for singing performances, while Payton Ballinger presented a research project. 

Students and faculty members

“I hope that attending this event helped inspire our students,” says Ida Nicolosi, an assistant instructor of teaching of vocal studies at Seaver College. “Performing in a vocal competition among your peers is totally different from a regular audition. We aim to teach them that their singing ability and musical talents are an art form that they must embrace and be willing to share with others.”

NATS is composed of 14 different regions located across the United States. Each year, the organization hosts a series of regional conferences, allowing faculty members and students to share their research and vie for an opportunity to perform at the national meeting taking place in the summer. 

More than 500 college students auditioned for the opportunity to sing at the Salt Lake City event. From this initial round emerged seven Seaver College students, all of whom advanced to the semifinals of the vocal competition. Six of these seven students qualified for the final round, where contestants performed a three-minute song in front of a live audience. Of the Pepperdine students competing, Flores and Schene earned first place awards, while O’Donnell, Stulac, and Williams were awarded second place honors in their respective performance categories. 

Students at NATS

“The students’ final performances were quite spectacular and a wonderful way to celebrate and share all of their hard work in the voice studio and practice room,” says Nicolosi. “Our young artists were confident, musical, and expressive and definitely stood out both vocally and personally. Pepperdine was a positive presence at the conference.”

Alongside the vocal competition, the conference hosted a variety of workshops and research presentations. Payton Ballinger, a Seaver College junior, presented her research entitled, “The Effect of Music Tempo on Memory.” Through this study, Ballinger determined that music tends to diminish one’s short-term memory retention. More specifically, she found that listening to songs with a quicker tempo (more than 80 beats per minute) leads to further reductions in memory retention than music with slower tempos. 

“Presenting at NATS was so much fun,” says Ballinger. “ I never would have dreamed that I would be giving even a poster presentation at the undergraduate level, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss my findings with conference attendees. Everyone was very kind and seemingly fascinated by the results, and many asked about the applications and my ideas for possible future research. I hope to be able to conduct more research and present again at other conferences.”