Singing Down the Barriers

5/18/22 – This year’s “Singing Down the Barriers” Workshop will be consolidated into Week 2 (July 18 – 22, 2022). Please see below for more information.

“Singing Down the Barriers” is an intensive introduction to the repertoire of African American composers for the college student, apprentice, teacher (private, high school or university), coach, choral conductor, church musician,professional singer, or organization administrator In tandem with a directed curriculum of readings, resources, recordings, reflective exercises, and performance, the Institute seeks to help participants overcome the barriers that prevent successful engagement with and performance of African American concert repertoire including art song and spirituals. 

Now in its second year, “Singing Down the Barriers”focuses on performance and conversations to eliminate the barriers to its performance, with students able to benefit from either continued online interaction or the opportunity to meet in-person on the University of Michigan Campus.

SDtB Institute is an adult summer intensive of the U-M SMTD and is offered in partnership with the Hampsong Foundation via the Classic Song Research Initiative.

(UPDATED 5/16/22) Program Dates: 

  • (HYBRID – Held Online AND In-Person) = July 18 – July 22, 2022

*Program Tuition: $500

*Tuition for “Singing Down the Barriers” covers all instructional classes, events and materials. Housing / meal costs for those participating in Week 2 (in-person) of the program are the responsibility of the participant

Application Deadline: July 1, 2022



Louise Toppin, Director, Professor of Voice & Music, University of Michigan
Christie Finn, Hampsong Foundation & Classic Song Research Initiative, University of Michigan
Caroline Helton, Associate Professor of Music, University of Michigan
Scott Piper, Associate Professor of Music / Chair of Vocal Department, University of Michigan
Emery Stephens, Assistant Professor of Music, St. Olaf College

With Special Guest, Thomas Hampson

Darryl Taylor, Professor – UC Irvine, Founder of The African American Art Song Alliance 
Kira Thurman, Ast. Professor – University of Michigan
Naomi André, Professor – University of Michigan
Robert Sims, Lyric Baritone
Marquite Lister, Lecturer of Voice, Morgan State University

Mark Rucker, Professor – Michigan State University
Willis Patterson, Professor Emeritus of Voice – University of Michigan

More information on 2022 Guest Faculty and Panelists to be posted soon

PROGRAM SCHEDULE – 2022 Singing Down the Barriers (HYBRID – In-Person and Remote)


Applications are due July 1, 2022

To apply to the Singing Down the Barriers Institute, all applicants must complete the following three steps. Your application will not be considered complete until all of the below requirements have been received by the Office of Engagement & Outreach.

  • Complete the Online Application
  • Pay the non-refundable $50 application fee
  • A one-page introduction of the applicant, including why they are interested in participating in this program

Some financial aid is available for those wishing to attend this year’s program. Please contact Christie Finn for more information.

Office of Engagement & Outreach-Youth & Adult Programs
University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Stearns Building │ 2005 Baits Drive │ Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 936-2660 

Engagement & Outreach Staff monitors emails and phone lines at the following times
Sunday – Thursday, 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. EST

updated May 18, 2022