Talent and hard work combine for OU singer victory


Robert Skylis, Management Information Systems major and Music minor, received first place at a national music competition.

Skylis was recognized as the winner of the lower undergraduate studio men classical category at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Conference.

Skylis attended community college for two years before coming to Oakland and studying with Drake Dantzler at his friend’s, Tim Brown, suggestion.

At the beginning of fall 2015, Dantzler and Skylis chose a repertoire to study in their private lessons through the university. One of the first songs the two chose was “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” which won him the national title at NATS.

Dantlzer works as the NATS president for the state chapter and was also recognized this year receiving the Emerging Leader Award.

Skylis entered the regional level with three pieces culminating in the required eight minutes of performance. From there he went onto regionals held in Canada before filming a YouTube entry to compete in nationals.

According to Skylis, at nationals, between 12 to 15 students competed in each of the 15 categories with two people from each region.

Skylis recognized the faculty at Oakland University for aiding in his achievement. He cited examples of individualized care for each element of performance and technique by Oakland faculty.

“Robert has a very strong work ethic and a very strong personal desire for excellence,” Dantzler said. “He’s very talented and he has a lot of possibilities in a future for him as a performer.”

Dantzler stressed the importance of performance within the field of study and encourages his students to do public performances devoting a whole class to performance. He delves even further into the performance process examining the psychological elements and effects on each student.

“Prior to performance we fill out psychology worksheets and then address where we feel confident, what we’d like to work on prior to performance…” Dantzler said.

Similar worksheets are filled out after performance addressing how the student felt about the performance.

“Coming home with a national title has been nothing short of surreal,” Skylis told Oakland. “Let this be a testament to the great things that happen at Oakland. We are blessed with a combination of unrelenting skill, talent, hard work and dedication between the faculty, staff, teachers and student body.”

Skylis plans to continue his music studies at Oakland and to perform in the opera as well as other available performances.

He will be performing as Tamino in Oakland’s production of “The Magic Flute” this January.

“There’s no one path of getting there,” he said. “You could say that about any career path. My motto has just been ‘work hard and keep my head low…’ I want to stress how athletic singing is…It’s so cool to have this kind of opportunity.”

For more information on NATS, visit nats.org.  To see how you can participate in the music curriculum at OU, visit oakland.edu/mtd.