Mary Saunders Barton, Singing Teacher


Mary Saunders Barton is a Penn State Professor Emeritus, currently residing in Princeton, NJ where she maintains a private professional voice studio. She is an adjunct professor in the musical theatre program at Montclair State University. While at Penn State, Mary created an MFA in Musical Theatre Voice Pedagogy with colleague Norman Spivey to meet the growing demand for teachers who specialize in vernacular singing techniques. In this and recent seasons her students have been seen on Broadway in Book of Mormon, Miss Saigon, Newsies, Beautiful, Chicago, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, School of Rock, Wicked, Bandstand, A Bronx Tale, Beetlejuice, Ain’t Too Proud, Kinky Boots, My Fair Lady, and Moulin Rouge, among others, and in many tours and regional productions. Mary is frequently invited to present her workshop “Bel Canto/Can Belto” in the U.S and abroad. She has produced two video tutorials, “Teaching Women to Sing Musical Theatre” and “What about the Boys?”  and is co-author of the book “Cross-Training in the Voice Studio: A Balancing Act” with colleague Norman Spivey. She is a contributing author of the NATS publication, “So You Want to Sing CCM: A Guide for Performers,” and of a number of other pedagogical resources. Mary is a 2018 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University. She is chair of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. belcantocanbelto.com

Financial Disclosure: Ms. Saunders Barton is receiving an honorarium from NW Voice for presenting. She receives royalties from her publication, “Cross-Training in the Voice Studio: A Balancing Act" through Plural Publishing. 


Non-Financial Disclosure: ​Ms. Saunders Barton has no non-financial relationships to disclose.


​​MASTERCLASS - Finding the Sound for the Song

The vocal skill required for a successful career in musical theatre today is worlds removed from what was expected 40 years ago. To be competitive and stay competitive, actors must have resilient flexible voices with enough stamina to survive eight shows a week. Speaking and singing are parallel functions and track in a single integrated arc. Cross-training performers in classical and vernacular techniques is one way to ensure a balanced instrument, adaptable to a multitude of styles. Finding playful ways to elicit a wide variety of possible sounds can help take the fear out of the process. There are so many different stories to tell!


Presentation - Singing the Rainbow  
The coordination of registration and resonance is essential to building a secure technique for any style of singing. There are so many benefits to experimenting outside of one’s vocal “comfort zone” not the least of which is flexibility, resilience, and fun.


Panel - Breaking Habits: How We Undo Tendencies and Habits in our Students and Patients