Singing

One of the toughest way to sing is to learn how to sing Opera, the strength and passion that the voice manages to have is almost unbelievable. There are specific ways to train the voice and be able to sing with such powerful sound.

However one of the most important things to understand about opera singers is that they don’t use microphones, so the way that the body has to work as an instrument needs to be as refined and polished as it can be, with of course, lots of care and training

Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti was one of the greatest and most famous opera singers to date, and while he is from the world of opera, he has been known to sing along with other artists like Elton John and Bono.

He was born in 1935 in Northern Italy, and while he was growing up, his big dream was far from music, he wanted to be a profesional football player as a goalkeeper, however, he eventually turned his attention towards music, and began his studies at the age of 19.

Music has an incredible value. Because I remember, myself, the Second World War. I was ten when the war finished, and the first thing everybody wanted was to have light – because during the war we cannot have light in the night. And secondly, to gather round the fire in the open air and to sing and play. Stupid things, but together. And singing and singing and singing. I think that music, art, is the bread of the soul. So we would like to participate to give nutrition to the soul.

Today Opera is not one of the most popular genres of music in the world, however it does retain a level of prestige and recognition due to its history and the technical prowess it requires. Pavarotti said about the music industry today that:

They buy records, but what they want is song and they want songs written today. If you make a record of songs of today you will sell more than if you record antique songs.

I am not pessimistic. I am realistic. It is an attitude of the audience. Audiences like novelty – they like new operas, they like new singers, they like everything new. [By new he doesn’t mean contemporary, but rather music that he and other popular classical artists haven’t done before.] I have almost recorded everything in opera that I can. One thing I am going to do which I have neglected recently is recitals with piano. It’s the most difficult thing of all because it is yourself up there, alone with the pianist.

Interview from gramophone.com

There are still however, many people interested in becoming opera singers, and the first step to get into opera is to know about the world of opera, on this note, Pavarotti has some recommendations for those who want to start the journey:

They always should go for a good drama. For example, Puccini is a good way to meet – ToscaBohème. Comic opera like Elixir Of Love [by Donizetti] is fantastic, Barber Of Seville [Rossini]. And then, little by little, they should go to Verdi, who is more important than all the other composers … For me, I like Mozart and Beethoven in the classic, I like Verdi in the operatic. If I have to choose one composer I will be a traitor of Italy because I will choose Mozart, because he has done classic and opera. In the way he has written, I think, he is the greatest genius of all.

Interview from Pauldunoyer.com

Why Should You Learn Opera Singing

For starters it’s not for everybody, meaning it’s not easy to get into, it takes a lot more time to adjust than regular singing (meaning, to sing with the help of microphones or any other genre). There is an amount of practice and devotion that will be needed in order to achieve a good level of understanding of what opera is. However this is an art that seems almost superhuman to most singers, and the tradition and history behind it is long and rich.

Opera can eventually find its way back to the spotlight, and with how musical genres are experimenting today, it just may be around the corner.

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composing music techniques

There is nothing quite like the thrill of writing your own piece of music or helping your student to compose but sometimes it can be extremely hard to get started. What can you do to get the ball rolling as it were?

1 Numbers: A great idea I picked up the other week is to pick an easy key, roll three or four dice and convert the numbers (1-6) into degrees of the scale to generate the start of a melody. For example, say we picked G major and the numbers were 3, 4 and 1, that would equate to B (3rd note of the scale of G major), C (4th) followed by G (1st). After toying with these three notes, you should be inspired to know what comes next. If not, roll again! You could try something similar with a phone number. After writing out the number, cross out any zeroes or nines (not degrees of the scale) and see what happens!

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By Robin Steinweg

Singing group of girls   When that waiting list grows out of proportion, how do you multiply your time? With group lessons!

Part I: Vocal Group Lessons

To multiply my time this summer, I’m conducting two 8-week group classes. I’ll write about the other (a group guitar class) next month.

Normally I’d advertise. But due to circumstances, I emailed  my present students and posted a note on facebook. Word-of-mouth proved sufficient, and I have enough students for a pleasant group.

A great thing about group lessons is that I can charge a lower tuition fee per student, but still earn a good deal more money per hour. Also, my time of preparation is once for all the students in the class. This tends to create more of a buzz about my studio, too.

Here’s how I’ve gone about it—you may have wonderful ideas of your own—please share them in the comments below!

*This group is for 8-12-year-old girls. Classes are 45 minutes long. If they are successful, I will try to offer a follow-up 6-8 weeks this fall.

*To help them get to know each other, I had them share birthdates, family, nicknames, pets, hobbies, musical experiences—they had fun with it. I wrote a curriculum with lots of flexibility in it until I could get to know their strengths/areas of growth.

*I found and created warm-ups. Physical movement (asked them to reach up as if for something on a high shelf that they want badly (a sugar glider, an American doll…), easy descending patterns, pulses, vowel formation, diction, ear training… done with as much humor as I can. Tongue twisters come in handy. Whining like a puppy and meowing like a cat on different pitches turned out to be surprisingly effective warm-ups!

Girls sing 3 parts

*Familiar songs in appropriate keys followed. I played just the melody and listened for who can match pitches and how much confidence they might have, and I began to get clues as to their vocal ranges. From this I can plan the rest of the group lessons.

*Rounds—I had nearly forgotten the benefits of learning to sing rounds! For beginning singers, not an easy feat. Some benefits: Social—you know how kids often walk together or sit together, but are in their own worlds with their phones, texting or playing games? Rounds are a bit like that. The kids are standing in close proximity, but each concentrating on their own thing—separately but together! If you have enough students, they can divide into groups or even just two on a part. Singing rounds requires much concentration, and tuning out the other parts while focusing on their own. Ear training—singing a melody and singing harmony.

Maria von Trapp (Sound of Music—the real woman, not Julie Andrews) said that singing rounds teaches you “to mind your own business.”

Surplus benefit: since rounds are based on mathematical relationships, students are learning math concepts while singing.

You can find some CDs of rounds here: http://fun-books.com/books/lester_family_music.htm

Here’s another source for rounds: http://roundz.tripod.com/

I’ve been using The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing, by Margaret Read MacDonald and Winifred Jaeger (80 songs).

Round Book the

*In addition to rounds, I included a couple of very funny (and obscure) songs to keep them laughing. And I remind them that laughing is great for feeling where the support happens. Talk about pulses!

*Real energy occurred when I asked the girls which musicals they would love to sing something from. As each girl mentioned a musical, the others exclaimed how they love that one too. Contagious. I promised them at least one piece they all love. They can hardly wait for the next group lesson. Win!

Even though the group represents abilities from not being able to match pitches to start with, all the way to one girl who does so unconsciously and has sung in public for years, they are working together, being challenged to progress, learning note-reading, intervals, solfege, blending, listening, focusing, and cooperating. In just a few weeks their improvement has impressed me.

This is the first time I’ve taught more than one vocal student at once. I’m liking the way I can multiply my time with group lessons!

singing children

I’ll share about the mixed-gender-mixed-age group guitar class on July 27th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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