Wendy Blackwood sat at a stoplight and screamed with excitement when she found out she was going to Boulder, Colorado, to intern with the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
NATS is the largest professional association of teachers of singing with nearly 7,000 members around the world. Its internship accepts only nine singers and three collaborative pianists. Blackwood, piano master teacher and interim director of the Athens Community Music School, or ACMS, is one of the three pianists selected for the internship’s 27th year.
“I actually tried out for NATS last year and didn’t get in, but my colleagues encouraged me to apply one more time,” Blackwood said. “When you apply to things, you just never know. But when I found out that I got in this year, I was super excited.”
Blackwood has been playing piano since she was five years old. Her grandparents had a piano in their home, where Blackwood would practice daily with an instructor; from there, her love for music grew.
“I’ve probably been at more voice lessons as a pianist than most singers have been at voice lessons for voice lessons,” Blackwood said.
Blackwood will be the third Ohio University-affiliated instructor to be invited to participate in the program. Previous participants from ACMS include Kelly Burns in 2017 and Melissa Brobeck in 2016.
Brobeck, an ACMS voice master teacher, has worked very closely with Blackwood. Brobeck knows Blackwood to be an exceptionally kind, supportive and organized pianist and instructor.
“My daughter takes lessons from Wendy, so I know firsthand that she is a fun and patient piano teacher,” Brobeck said. “As a pianist, she is prepared, consistent and responsive. I believe she already has everything she needs to be successful in her internship.”
Brobeck hopes Blackwood will be able to deepen and further develop her collaborative piano work and teaching skills with the program’s piano master teacher, Arlene Shrut, and fellow artists at her internship, which will run June 4-14.
Blackwood enjoys accompanying others because collaborating with someone is exciting when music is being made.
“NATS, to me, is like music camp for adults,” Blackwood said. “It’s going to be a pretty intense ten days with coaching from my master teacher as well as focuses on different styles each day.”
Andrew Liu, a graduate student studying choral conducting, said it is an honor for Blackwood to be selected to participate in the NATS internship.
“Being selected as a NATS intern is definitely something to be applauded,” Liu said. “(NATS) provides interns opportunities to work with many top music educators where they will learn numerous methodologies.”
The NATS internship is the biggest internship Blackwood has ever received, and she is excited to travel all the way to Boulder for it.
“I’m just super pumped to get to be immersed in music,” Blackwood said. “I’ll be focusing mainly on classical styles, but there are other sessions I’m not as familiar with that I’ll be introduced to so that will all be very fun.”
NATS is an experienced-based internship, which makes it very special because the people selected to participate had to earn their positions, Blackwood said. She is excited to come away from the internship feeling more energized about music and to become a better coach from the master teacher she will be working with.
“I’ve been doing this craft for awhile, but there’s always more to learn,” Blackwood said. “There’s always something you’ve never thought about or focused on and I’m excited to find out what that is for me this summer.”