About McSweeny's & Events

       McSweeny's School of the Performing Arts is a music school that is located at 1633 North 29th Street, Fort Dodge.  The school is beginning its 23rd year in business.  McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts has professional music instructors offering private music lessons in voice, piano, instrumental music specializing in brass, woodwind and percussion, violin and participation in the Fort Dodge Area Children's Chorus (grade 1-8).  Instructors include MaryAnn McSweeny-Buhr, Dan Cassady, and Dr. David Klee.  
     Voice students are frequent semifinalists and finalists in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions, continue to be consistent recipients of college vocal music scholarships and are frequently cast as musical leads in area school and community musical theatre productions.  During the last 14 years over $586,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to vocalists wishing to pursue vocal music at the college level.  Younger vocalists and instrumentalists are encouraged to pursue musical excellence through participation in the Youth Honors Recital and perform in area Bill Riley State Fair Talent Search Shows during the summer with vocalists consistently qualifying to perform at the Iowa State Fair with a Grand Champion Sprout awarded in 2018.  All students demonstrate their progress and quest for musical excellence through participation in bi-annual recitals held in December and May.  McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts has a private recording studio, sound booth, and a large stage and concert hall.  McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts is the host of the Youth Honors Recital co-sponsored by the Fort Dodge Area Symphony and McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts for outstanding young soloists.  The recital is open to vocalists and instrumentalists 8th grade and younger.  McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts is also host of the annual Desiring the Arts Festival.  Desiring the Arts Festival connects and provides concerts and educational workshops for youth and adults in Fort Dodge and the surrounding area with working professionals from all over the world specializing in the arts.      

 

​National Association of Teachers of Singing

 

         High school and college age singers are encouraged to pursue musical excellence through participation in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions.  I would like to encourage any serious high school/college age singer to consider participating in NATS Auditions.  The benefits include learning, polishing and memorizing lots of repertoire, pushing oneself, developing musicianship skills, working collaboratively with your accompanist, hearing other high school and college age singers, visiting college campuses, checking out their music departments and networking with college instructors.  I can’t stress enough how important this is to any serious high school or college age singer.  
     The NATS auditions require 3-6 memorized song selections, so it is essential to begin learning your music early.  Students in grades 9-12 and college age singers may compete in a Classical Singing and/or Musical Theatre Category.  Commitment, a strong work ethic, outstanding musicianship skills and piano skills are essential for any singer interested in competing.  NATS auditions are a wonderful way for students to learn the art of challenging themselves in a competitive performance setting.  I always stress to students that the ultimate competition is within themselves.  Take every opportunity to audition and perform and give yourself permission to learn and grow from each and every experience.   Please contact me MaryAnn at 576-3636 if you have any questions or would like your son or daughter to participate in this performance opportunity.

 

2018 Central Region NATS Conference & Student Auditions 

The National Association of Teachers of Singing will be sponsoring the 2018 Iowa NATS Chapter Student Auditions to be held on Friday & Saturday, November 2-3, 2018 at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.  3-6 memorized song selections are required for this vocal competition so it is essential to begin learning your music early.  High School singers in grades 9-12 and college age singers may compete in a classical singing and/or musical theatre category.  Commitment, a strong work ethic, outstanding musicianship skills and piano skills are essential for any student interested in competing.  NATS auditions are a wonderful way for students to learn the art of competing against themselves in a competitive performance setting.  I always stress to students that the ultimate competition is within themselves.  Take every opportunity to audition and perform and give yourself permission to learn and grow from each and every experience.   Please contact MaryAnn at 515-576-3636 if you have any questions or would like your son or daughter to participate in the 2018 Iowa NATS Chapter Student Auditions.    

Date:  November 2-3, 2018
Location:  Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa    
This is a TWO DAY EVENT
High school singers in grades 9th - 12th grade may compete as well as college age singers.
Classical Singing and/or Musical Theatre Category      
Note:  3-6 songs are required for this event. 

2019 NATS SPRING STUDENT AUDITIONS

The National Association of Teachers of Singing (Lewis and Clark Chapter) will be sponsoring the 2019 NATS Spring Student Auditions on Saturday, April 13 at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.  3-6 memorized song selections are required for this vocal competition so it is essential to begin learning your music early.  High School singers in grades 9-12 and college age singers may compete in a classical singing and/or musical theatre category.  Commitment, a strong work ethic, outstanding musicianship skills and piano skills are essential for any student interested in competing.  Choosing the right literature is of utmost importance.  NATS auditions are a wonderful way for students to learn the art of competing against themselves in a competitive performance setting.  I always stress to students that the ultimate competition is within themselves.  Take every opportunity to audition and perform and give yourself permission to learn and grow from each and every experience.  Please contact MaryAnn at 515-576-3636 if you have any questions or would like your son or daughter to participate in the 2019 NATS Spring Student Auditions.   

Date:  Saturday, April 13, 2019
Location:  Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa   
This is an ALL DAY EVENT
High school singers in grades 9th -12th grade may compete as well as college age singers.
Classical Singing &/or Musical Theatre Category      
Note:  3-6 songs are required for this event.
 

Bill Riley State Fair Talent Search

     All vocalists are encouraged to pursue musical excellence through participation in the Bill Riley State Fair Talent Search.  Local shows are primarily held throughout the summer during the months of June and July.  Summer voice lessons are highly encouraged for anyone interested in participating. 
      “I am thankful for all the life lessons singers learn through their participation in the Bill Riley Talent Shows at both the local and state level.  Singers learn to persevere and ‘never give up’, are provided with many opportunities to develop their stage presence, self-confidence, work ethic and ultimately the push to excel.  The Bill Riley Talent Search is truly a wonderful program to grow as a singer, musician and person.” -MaryAnn McSweeny-Buhr-
     The mission of the Bill Riley Talent Search is to serve as a developmental platform for young Iowans involved in the performing arts.  By maintaining a nurturing and educational environment their aim is to promote self-esteem, self-discipline and self-confidence while helping performers achieve their goals and shoot for the stars, one performance at a time. 
     There were 102 qualifying shows across the state in 2018 with approximately 2000 acts competing for a chance to make it to the State Fair.  During the State Fair, there were 7 days of Preliminary Shows, 3 days of Semifinal Shows with 9 Senior and 8 Sprout Champions selected.
     Please contact MaryAnn at 515-576-3636 if you have any questions or would like your son or daughter to participate in area Bill Riley Talent Search Shows next summer.  

History of the Bill Riley Talent Search

     In 1946, Iowa Falls native Bill Riley emceed variety shows held at the Iowa State Fair by KRNT radio. In 1957, Bill approached Fair secretary Lloyd Cunningham about showcasing talented kids during the State Fair. Two years worth of convincing later, Bill Riley's first Iowa State Fair Talent Search was held. By August of 1959, Bill had crisscrossed the state holding numerous talent shows. During the Fair, the state's brightest young stars performed for delighted Fairgoers.

     "Our daily shows started at 2 o'clock," Bill recalled. "They were so popular that people weren't attending the afternoon shows in the Grandstand, so the Fair Board asked us to move our start time to 1 o'clock. Then, people went on the Grandstand, but they got there late. So finally, we started our shows at Noon."

     Affectionately known as "Mr. State Fair," Bill retired from the Talent Search in 1996. That same year, the Plaza Stage was renamed the Bill Riley Stage. In 2006, Bill celebrated his 60th Fair. He passed away in December 2006.

     Today the Talent Search is still thriving. Nearly 100 local qualifying shows are held across the state. There are seven days of preliminary competition for Sprouts (ages 2-12) and Seniors (ages 13-21), followed by the semi-finals and, ultimately, the selection of six Sprout champions and one Senior champion. The Sprouts do not compete beyond the semi-finals, but are chosen as champions to be showcased in the Championship Show. Bill Riley’s son, Bill Riley, Jr., continues to host the show.

​Desiring the Arts Festival

 

     The Desiring the Arts Festival connects and provides concerts and educational workshops for youth and adults in Fort Dodge and the surrounding area with working professionals from all over the world specializing in the arts. 

​Youth Honors Recital

 

     Students (1st – 8th grade) are encouraged to pursue musical excellence through participation in the annual Youth Honors Recital held in March.  Younger vocalists are encouraged to participate as a vocal soloist or a member of a vocal ensemble representing the Fort Dodge Area Children’s Chorus in the annual Youth Honors Recital, co-sponsored by McSweeny’s School of the Performing Arts and the Fort Dodge Area Symphony.  The benefits include learning new repertoire, including possibly singing in a foreign language, developing musicianship skills, working collaboratively with your accompanist and other young singers and developing leadership skills.   

​Violin Group Lessons

 

     Students meet in small groups twice monthly to practice repertoire from the private lessons with students of similar skill. The group lessons provide a fun and encouraging atmosphere to practice and strengthen skills learned privately through games, listening exercises, and playing instruments.

​Recitals

 

     All students demonstrate their progress and quest for musical excellence through participation in bi-annual recitals held in December and May. 

Articles & Resources
Year in Retrospect

1633 N 29th St.
Fort Dodge, IA 50501

Call Us:

515-576-3636

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