2018 Keynote Address by MaryAnnKehler, IVTOM President

President MaryAnnKehler’s Keynote Address at the 2018 IVTOM International Voice Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah


This year, 2018, is the 7th IVTOM International Voice Conference held in the U.S. and we are delighted to have returned to Salt Lake City this year.   Since our founding in 2010, IVTOM has maintained the objective of supporting teachers who take responsibility for continually expanding their knowledge of teaching the art and science of singing. Members include new voice teachers who are just beginning to develop the craft of teaching mix; highly trained professionals who hold degrees and certifications from the world’s best universities and associations; and specialized experts, including otolaryngologists, speech pathologists, voice scientists, and mental health professionals.  In response to a high demand for training new teachers, IVTOM launched a teacher accreditation program in 2014.  All members, both highly experienced and inexperienced, have access to ongoing education, a mentor program, student teacher training, regional workshops, and international conferences that provide unparalleled access to medical and scientific professionals who specialize in the human voice.

IVTOM now has members in 19 countries, including:

As of August, IVTOM is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. 

 As it turns out, this is a pretty big thing.  The 501c3 designation opens the possibility for some things we are just now beginning to explore, such as very low cost Google advertising and donations through shopping sites like Amazon Smile.  To our knowledge, IVTOM is the only educational organization for voice teachers that is not just a non-profit but an IRS-recognized 501c3.

This is all in alignment with the vision of IVTOM’s founder, Dean Kaelin.  His goal was to create an organization that would provide education, interaction, and community for teachers who continually endeavor to be the best in their field.

Moving forward, how can IVTOM continue to train teachers who are instrumental to the music community and industry?

IVTOM is never going to claim to have all the answers — it’s not what we do.  It was cool to see the group’s reaction yesterday to Richard Lissemore, “I don’t know.”  He gave us permission to admit that we don’t have all the answers.  This underscored for me that teachers who expect to be spoon fed, to regurgitate pre-defined pedagogy, to follow blindly, will not be happy in IVTOM.  

A couple of nights ago, I stumbled into what I expected to be Teri Stock teaching Billy diCrosta in a voice lesson.  It turned out that they had finished the lesson, and Billy was rehearsing Teri in a song that she was working.  Four years ago, Teri was Billy’s mentor.  That one moment spoke so strongly to me of the power of IVTOM’s mentor program.  It is unique within the voice teacher community.  Each accredited track teacher is mentored by two teachers, in a way that recognizes the less-experienced teacher’s strengths and moves them toward accreditation at an appropriate pace, with no unnecessary “hoops” to jump through.  I believe that this fluidity and flexibility is the reason for the success of the mentoring program, and the reason for the success that IVTOM’s accredited teachers experience.

IVTOM teachers are superb

You are hard-working, intelligent, contributors to your local communities and to the larger music community.  I have personally seen you, by demanding excellence of yourselves, move on to bigger and bigger stages, taking on bigger and bigger challenges.

I want to encourage you to continue to do that.  Look for opportunities to reach out into the music community, the music industry.  Find your niche and be a contributor.  This doesn’t mean “work for free” — it means to find and understand what it is that makes you unique and how you can use that “uniqueness” to create studios that suit your desires, your life.  

I look around this room and see amazing people who will be the future mentors and future leaders of IVTOM.  Does that thought freak you out?  Then you need to have a talk with Dr. Skidmore.  

Be fearless.  Be gutsy.  Be cautious. Ask questions.  Seek counsel from those who know more.  But go for it.   Always, go for it.

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