1975: The beginnings

  • 1975 William Swinburne had the foresight to suggest that a meeting of singing teachers should be organised for the interchange of ideas.
  • A small advertisement appeared in the Times Educational Supplement inviting teachers to attend a meeting , chaired by Sir Peter Pears at the Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh.
  • Fifty teachers responded and the two-day meeting included discussions and the presentation of papers on such subjects as vocal technique, interpretation and methods.
  • The outcome of this meeting was the formation of a working party to consider the battle against ‘bad teaching, low standards and the mismanagement of young singers’.
  • 1977 Future summer conferences were planned and in 1977 the group was entitled AOTOS with Sir Peter Pears as Honorary President.

The 1980s

  • 1981 The summer conference moved from Aldeburgh to Dartington where the growing number of members could satisfactorily be accommodated.
  • 1981 The first magazine was produced and edited by Mollie Petrie.
  • Norman Tattersall became Conference Director and a council included representatives from seven areas, one of whom was Dr Richard Miller for the USA. Links were forged with NATS – the American National  Association of Teachers of Singing.
  • 1984 The tenth conference was held at Dartington and was a joint AOTOS and NATS event.
  • 1984 Additional one-day conferences were requested by members and the first was held in November.
  • 1987 AOTOS became a registered charity.
  • 1987 In July, a party travelled to be present at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Strasbourg establishing links with Europe.
  • 1989 The European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA) was formed at an Amsterdam meeting. These liaisons have provided the conferences with innumerable speakers from other parts of the world.
  • 1989 We started to have both a spring and autumn one-day conference as well as the residential summer meeting.
  • Sir Peter Pears remained as Life President until his death in 1986, when his place was filled by Dr William Swinburne OBE. Dr Constance Shacklock CBE became the next Life President in 1997 and that year Professor Horst Günter became the first life member. Sir Thomas Allen became Honorary Life President in 1999 by which time the Association had almost 500 members.

The 1990s

  • 1990 EVTA’s first meeting in the UK.
  • 1993 Edward Baird, the USA representative on the AOTOS Council, introduced the NATS International Program for Young Teachers. Eileen Price, then Chairman of AOTOS, travelled to the USA to observe the working of this professional development.
  • 1994 The first AOTOS Teacher Training Course was held in 1994, with six attendees.
  • 1997 The fourth International Congress of Voice Teachers was held in London in July 1997 and was hosted by AOTOS.
  • 1999 Code of ethics devised.

The 2000s

  • 2000 The twenty-fifth year of the association saw a new logo in an enhanced magazine.
  • 2001 Death of Norman Tattersall. The bursary bearing his name was established from members’ donations.
  • 2002 AOTOS rebranded in royal blue.
  • 2005 Honorary membership was given to Eileen Price and Mollie Petrie.
  • 2006 Mollie Petrie produced the fiftieth magazine and  was succeeded as editor by Sue Anderson.
  • 2007 EVTA introduced their Pedagogic Week in Poland.
  • 2008 AOTOS was awarded European Finance – the  first Leonardo funding – which enabled Coral Gould and Joy Naylor to attend a study week in Stockholm, each with one of their own students.
  • 2009 ICVT Paris where again the AOTOS were able to send both delegates and young professional singers to take part.

2010 and beyond

  • 2010 AOTOS hosted the third pedagogical study week at Marlborough School.
  • 2011 Serious progress made on the rebranding of the association and the development of a new website and general image. Honorary membership given to Hazel Wood.
  • 2012 Newly designed website launched in July 2012.



  • Dr WH Swinburne OBE

Honorary Life Presidents

  • Sir Peter Pears (1976–1986)
  • DR WH Swinburne OBE (1986–1994)
  • Dr Constance Shacklock CBE (1986–1999)

Honorary Presidents

Honorary Life Members