Sophomore Nabs First In Singing Competition


In January, Maryville University sophomore Erica Lyles led the crowd in the singing of “Lift Every Voice” at the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration. Recently, Lyles of Ballwin lifted her own voice to take first place among sophomore women at the St. Louis regional auditions of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), held at Missouri Baptist University.

Majoring in music therapy at Maryville, Lyles competed against future professional singers from universities in Missouri and Illinois. She performed “Deh vieni non tardar” from the opera “The Marriage of Figaro,” a selection that is tailor made for her, said Lyles’ voice coach, Kristin Edmonds Itoku, an adjunct instructor of music therapy at Maryville. “Erica has a large, beautiful voice which is suitable for operatic repertoire, a good ear for foreign languages and she is a natural performer,” Itoku said. “Going to these auditions will keep the door open for Erica if she would like to work as a soloist every once in a while in addition to her music therapy career. Erica is a quick study and is very disciplined.”

In addition to performing for the judges, Lyles sang a second time in a recital that featured the winners in each of the age categories at the NATS competition. While pleased with her performance, Lyles, like most artists, is never totally satisfied. “I usually think things can be improved,” she said. “I tried to listen to myself when I was singing to allow for the possibility of changing something.”

Lyles noted she started singing at an early age. She has sung in her church choir and she had one of the lead roles in two musicals while attending Parkway South High School. “I enjoy it because other people enjoy it. If I feel I did something well, I’ve done some good.”

Lyles chose music therapy for her major because it combined the two things she likes most. “I wanted to do something musical because music is a big part of my life,” she remarked. “And I wanted to do something medical, where I could be helping people.” Lyles is considering working with children with special needs but has not made a final decision. She is open to the idea of entering future singing competitions if her schedule permits. “I work part-time and go to school full-time, so those two things are taking up most of my schedule.”