"Find your Classical Voice/How to sing Operatic style" Classical Series #2 Voice Hacks by Mary Z
How to Sing Classically
Singing classically takes time, talent, and dedication. Becoming a classical singer requires intensive study of classical music, music theory, and vocal technique. Immersing yourself through listening, studying, and practicing will help you sing classically.
Listening to Classical Music
Acquire classical music recordings.The first step in signing classically is listening to classical music. You can buy, borrow, or browse classical music from a variety of places like the library or the Internet.
- Visit your local library and check out a famous classical singer’s album. It’s free!
- Do an online search for a music video of your favorite classical singer. You can also watch videos on demand from the Metropolitan Opera website.
- You can also purchase classical music recordings online or at your local music store.
Listen to classical music intentionally.Set aside some time to focus only on listening to the classical music you acquired. You can take notes on what you do or don’t like about certain singers and styles.
Attend a performance of a classical singer.Once you’ve listened to recorded classical music, seek out a classical performance at a local venue. It doesn't need to be The Met to be great!
- See the next opera at the local college.
- Check out a classical singing performance at a local church.
Studying Classical Music
Find a classically-trained voice teacher.To sing classically you will need a teacher who can at a minimum offer voice coaching. Ideally, your instructor will also help you learn music theory, including how to read music.
- Ask your music teacher at school about local singing instructors. You could say, “Mr. Owens, I am interested in singing classically. Do you know of a good vocal coach?”
- Ask friends, family members, and classmates for suggestions of good teachers.
- Do an internet search for instructors in your area. The best teachers for classical music have a Master's degree in opera performance.
Learn to read music.You will need to know how to read music in order to sing classically. You can do this with your instructor or on your own.
- Ask your voice coach to help you learn to read music.
- Check out a book on reading music from your local library.
- Take a music class at school that teaches students to read music, like marching band.
Read about classical music and classical singing techniques.You need to learn more than just music if you want to sing classically. Find textual resources on topics ranging from the life of your favorite opera singer to vocal technique and movement.
- Get a book on singing classical music from the library. A great book for this would beOn The Art of Singingby Richard Miller.
- Check out a book on opera history.
- Visit the library at the local community college and check out a book on diction in classical singing techniques.
- Familiarize yourself with operas by listening along with the libretto, which are the written words on a page.
Learn to play an instrument.This will help you learn to read music and understand music theory. Remember that many great classical singers are also instrumentalists! Piano is the best instrument to learn if you want to sing classically.
- Join the band at school or ask your parents for private lessons. Try saying, “Mom, I really want to learn to play an instrument. Can I take private piano lessons?”
Learn a foreign language.If you have the opportunity to learn a foreign language such as Italian, French, or German, do so. You will sometimes be singing in another language as a classical singer.
- Sign up for an Italian class at the local community college.
- Check out an introductory textbook on the language of your choice from the library.
Singing Classical Music
Explore your vocal range.Singing classically requires that you are familiar with your voice’s range and type so that you sing parts appropriate for you. Your vocal range refers to the span between the lowest note you can sing and the highest. Explore this with your voice teacher if possible.
- Sing the lowest note possible followed by the highest note possible, using a keyboard or piano to confirm the notes. Write down each note. The distance between the lowest note you can sing and the highest note is your vocal range.
- Once you know your range, find your passaggio which help determine your voice type. Determine both the highest and lowest note you can sing that sound rich and full. Then, find the points within your range that are transitional places--meaning they're not quite so easy to sing or that you have to sing differently to achieve the note
Practice proper breathing techniques.Breathing properly is one of the most important parts of singing classically. Inhale while expanding your breath into your lower ribs and upper abdominal region and then exhale in a slow, controlled manner as you sing the note.
- Make sure your head, spine, and pelvis are aligned and your shoulders are relaxed as you sing.
- Keep your throat relaxed.
- Engage your abdomen and diaphragm while singing, but be sure to relax your abs when inhaling.
Work on your diction.Diction is one of the basic elements of classical singing. It affects the way we sing and how our voices sound to others.
- While singing, open your mouth as only as far as is necessary and comfortable for your voice to travel unobstructed. Keep it relaxed.
- Sing “mah, mee, moo, meh, moh” and focus on singing each vowel clearly and accurately.
- Watch the consonants b, p, and f while singing as they can cause a popping sound. To avoid this make sure your breathing is controlled. In languages like German and English, you may need to emphasize these sounds. But, in languages like Spanish, give less air to these consonant sounds.
- If you have a voice instructor, ask them for some at-home diction exercises you can practice daily.
Start with something easy, like an English folk song.Warm up for 10 minutes with vocal exercises and then spend 10 minutes on the song. Record yourself if possible and then listen to the recording.
- Pay attention to pitch and diction.
- Ask yourself while listening to the recording, “Are my words understandable? Are my vowels and consonants clear?”
Practice singing a classical piece in English.Use your vocal and breathing exercises to warm up for at least 10 minutes. Pay attention to your breathing and diction.
- Try a song by Michael Head or John Ireland.
- Try singing a piece by Schubert in the English language, like Ave Maria.
Practice classical singing techniques like legato and coloratura.Legato focuses on singing long vowels over steady lines in the song. Coloratura refers to including vocal improvisation in a song such as a trill or arpeggio.
- Try singing a trill by alternating your voice rapidly between two notes. You are practicing coloratura!
- Try practicing legato by singing long vowels and short consonants. Keep your mouth relaxed and your abdomen engaged.
Attend your voice lessons regularly.It’s important to be consistent with your training as a classical singer. Make sure you don’t skip voice lessons.
- Make your voice lessons a priority each week and that they don’t conflict with other obligations. If they do, work with voice instructor to schedule lessons for a time that works best for both of you.
Practice regularly.Training to become a classical singer takes daily dedication. Set aside a set amount of time to practice each day. Choose a space where you are comfortable singing loudly and doing exercises that might sound or look odd to others.
- Work with your voice instructor to put together a regular home practice schedule. This will differ for each student.
- Ask your voice instructor for singing and breathing exercises you can do at home. Practice these daily.
- Make your home practice a priority by sticking to your schedule.
Audition for a role in a local performance.Performing is a great way to boost your skills as a classical singer and gain important performance experience. Work with your voice instructor on an audition piece and use it to audition for a role.
- Check the audition schedule for your local opera. Sign up for an audition and give it your best!
- Audition for your school’s next classical music performance or to be a chorus member for a local opera company.
- It’s okay if you don’t get a starring role after your first audition. Chalk it up to experience and start practicing for the next one!
QuestionHow can I learn to sing very high notes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt will not happen at once. Also, keep in mind that how high you end up singing will depend on whether you are an alto, mezzo, or soprano. Start practicing with the lower notes first, then build your way up to the higher ones. Don't attempt to go too high, or you will ruin your voice; if the notes become too painful to sing, you should stop.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do to make my voice good and clear when singing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBreathe from your belly, not your throat. When you breathe from your belly, your voice is fuller and not as raspy. Raise the corners of your mouth -- this will make your voice clearer. If you want to be good at singing and overcome your weaknesses, you have to put some time and effort into it, meaning you have to practice a lot.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I be confident and not nervous when singing? I am so scared of the criticism!wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCriticism, whether it be constructive or not, like negative thoughts, can hold us back. Use it to analyse yourself. Confidence does not come straight away - just like technique, it takes work. They tend to go hand in hand. Sing alone at first and be honest with yourself. Our friends, no matter how well-meaning, might not know the best way to help. Being nervous is natural, but notice how it flies away as you get on with your singing - almost everyone is the same. We can actually become better, happier people by learning something like singing.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the average duration of a basic classical singing class?Community AnswerDepending on if it's private or group, roughly an hour.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I end the scratch in my voice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your throat feels scratchy when singing, it is probably because your vocal folds are not open. It would take too long to go into detail here, so search up the anatomy of the voice box if you're curious. If you don't want to do that, try and make the shape with your tongue that you make just before you yawn. This lifts the soft palette and opens the vocal folds wider.Thanks!
QuestionI can't raise my tone beyond La. I can't sing Ti and Do properly. What can I do for this problem?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart singing the scale starting on a lower note. If you want to sing higher, I would recommend using your head voice if you're not already - try to sing from the top of your head. If you're having trouble with this, find a vocal coach or look up some videos online - there are tons on YouTube. Please don't strain your voice though - if you are trying to hit those notes and it's just not happening, or it hurts, stop immediately - trust me, I've dealt with this before- instead, work on strengthening the notes directly underneath the ones that are causing you trouble, and work your way up slowly over time.Thanks!
QuestionSometimes sound doesn't come from my throat when I try. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou may be pushing your voice too hard. Be a little kinder to it. Drink lots of water, give it plenty of rest, and don't go past your range. If you want to increase your vocal range, get a coach, look up you tube videos, and strengthen what you DO have in your upper range. Be careful not to strain your voice though. Move your range up very slowly.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are good classical pieces for soprano?Michaela DopicoCommunity AnswerSomewhere Over the Rainbow is a very good piece. It works for me, and I'm a soprano.Thanks!
- Becoming a chorus member or working backstage for an opera company can help you realize how much time, effort, and dedication it takes to become a classical singer. You'll see that the vocalists have to learn different languages and spend hours and hours rehearsing.
Video: How to Sing with Open Throat / Classical Technique
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