How-To

Surprising practice tips: 4 arias to try too fast

Surprising practice tips: 4 arias to try too fast

Music that's meant to be slow can come with side effects like heaviness and stagnancy, which make the singing process unnecessarily difficult. Often the easiest way to find an aria's shape - and uncover some decent phrases - is to practice it at a metronome marking that's decidedly too fast.

Jenna Simeonov
4 English language habits that make a singer's life harder

4 English language habits that make a singer's life harder

There are some words that aren't actually helped by being overly literal with the pronunciation. The T's in words like "better" and "getting" have a natural tendency to sound more like D's; depending on how they're set, the sung versions of these words come out more clearly by keeping these "lazy" D sounds. An airy T sound can actually obscure the sound of the word, since it's unfamiliar to the ear.

Jenna Simeonov
Infographic: exercising for your art

Infographic: exercising for your art

Since we're in the business of helping you all stay passionate about it, we're pleased to share this great infographic from the folks over at TakeLessons.com. In the midst of all the things there are to learn about singing and musicianship, it can be easy to skip the bare essentials, like keeping your body healthy, limber, and prepped for great artistry.

Jenna Simeonov
Opera shorthand, part II: Proben & Fächer

Opera shorthand, part II: Proben & Fächer

Last year, we brought you some tips on opera-insider jargon, and how to speak the industry shorthand. Part I focused on the names of operas and their nicknames, and in part II, we're talking rehearsals and types of voices. So, if you're hoping to infiltrate opening-night opera parties, or just keep up with the opera talk with your singer friends, we can help you with the shortened lingo.

Jenna Simeonov
4 arias & their common misconceptions

4 arias & their common misconceptions

Daughters have been making pouting faces and puppy eyes at their fathers to get what they want for centuries, and Puccini encapsulates the strategy perfectly. "Babbino" is like saying "Daddy", or even "Daddykins", and to sing it on top of the lush tune is the equivalent of crocodile tears. "I'll throw myself off a bridge", Lauretta paraphrases (twice), if she doesn't get her way. Ugh.

Jenna Simeonov
Shades of opera: how to tell your buffo from your bel canto

Shades of opera: how to tell your buffo from your bel canto

Verismo music is decidedly gorgeous, with long, sweeping lines and a thick orchestra. The musical style is a foundation for the film scores of today, and though the impression is powerful, the harmonic structure of many verismo scores is fairly simple; it adds to the audience accessibility, and makes for some beautiful tunes to hum as you leave the theatre.

Jenna Simeonov
Pianists: where's the fire?

Pianists: where's the fire?

It can be extremely humbling for a trained pianist to discover just how hard it is to stay with a conductor. It may seem unfair - shouldn't a conductor be a living, breathing version of a metronome, after all? In some cases, that's true; Philip Glass' music works well when a tempo is set and maintained, but we guarantee you wouldn't want to hear your Puccini at an unwavering 108 clicks a minute.

Jenna Simeonov
Tips for pianists: how to tremolo like a pro

Tips for pianists: how to tremolo like a pro

In a case like this, sometimes a slower tremolo yields better results on the piano. If you try for speed, it'll likely sound a bit drier, a bit more percussive; a slow tremolo lets you just sit in the sound that already exists, and your muscles will be relaxed enough to sustain it.

Jenna Simeonov
Aria guides: Dido's Lament

Aria guides: Dido's Lament

For our latest Aria Guide, we've picked an aria that has it all: it's beautiful, it's in English, and mezzos get to play Dido, an actual woman. In Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, "Dido's Lament" happens at the end of a simple and sad story: Aeneas, whom Dido loves and has agreed to marry, believes he has to leave her and go to Italy. As he goes, Dido dies from her grief.

Jenna Simeonov
Aria guides: O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig!

Aria guides: O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig!

Amid captured loved ones and Turkish harems, there's a tenor in love. Belmonte is off to resuce his abducted fiancée, Konstanze, but not without telling us how she makes his heart beat faster. For any tenor, this aria is a mountain of work; there's tricky coloratura, lines which hover through the passaggio, and making it to the end takes planning and stamina.

Jenna Simeonov

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