Living my bliss

>> Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today I have been reminded not only of how much I love to sing, but how much I love to teach singing. I am a member of a Yahoo Groups forum for women singers and voice teachers where we share our stories, journeys, difficulties, successes, pass tips on to other singers/teachers, and generally support one another. Yesterday a young singer posted and described a difficulty she is experiencing and asked for some input. I was able to give her some suggestions because my experience as a singer has been similar.

The following is a transcript of a conversation I have just had with a young singer:

Hey everyone.This is something that has interested me for a while because it's an issue (I won't call it a problem) that I have - despite a couple of years worth of lessons and a quite a few years more of choirs, I still don't know if I'm a mezzo or a soprano. This is something that seems to kind of puzzle my teacher, although she and I both like that I can sing a pretty wide variety of pieces. My tone tends to be morevmezzo-y, but my range is closer to that of a soprano, albeit slightly more towards the low end of the soprano register. How long did it take you guys to figure out, or at least settle down, into a voice type? I know that there's a lot of flexibility between the two, and that many mezzos perform more dramatic soprano roles to give them depth and stuff like that. I just mean, for instance, when you decided what you would put on your resume, or something like that.

My reply:

How old are you? The reason I ask is that I have had a very similar experience. When I was an undergraduate music student I had a very "mature", smooth and mellow tone in the mid range, and although I was considered a soprano, I never had a very high or flexible soprano range. In choir I always sang second soprano and sometimes 1st alto, and I sang the Mozart soubrette roles--Susanna, Zerlina, & Despina. It wasn't until much later on, (18 years to be exact), when I entered graduate school that my voice teacher said that I had developed into a lyric mezzo. That was 18 years and three children later--so with the passage of time, physical maturity, and hormonal changes, I finally had a voice classification.

I wouldn't get too worked up about it, especially if you're still young.

Her response:

I'm 20, actually. It's funny reading your post, because it's very similar to what I'mactually experiencing. I've always been told I had a pretty maturesound, and the middle range, from the F above middle C to the F abovetreble C, are probably my best notes, although obviously I've got quite a bit of stuff both above and below that's perfectly good. I might take a look at the roles you mentioned for some repertoire. Usually I end up singing deep, dark, dramatic "omg, someone (maybe me) just died/will die/is dying!" kind of roles.

My second reply:

I would suggest some Baroque repertoire as well, such as Dido in Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas", (Dido's Lament is perfect for a young, mature voice), as well as the alto arias from "Messiah", and the Soprano II arias from Bach's "B minor Mass". You might also try some of Cherubino's arias from Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro". There is also a classification called "Spinto", which is not quite as dramatic or high as a dramatic soprano, nor as low as some of the mezzo repertoire. Some of the roles that fit into that category are Contessa Almaviva in "Figaro", Dorabella in "Cosi fan tutte", and Micaëla in "Carmen".

Good luck to you!

It brings me great satisfaction to know that I am able to help someone else along their journey.



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