Japanese Writing Systems for Beginners: Learn Romaji

What is Japanese Romaji? A Roman character and letter system for English speakers

When learning Japanese you’re introduced to several writing systems, including hiragana, katakana, kanji, and finally – romaji.

Romaji simply means “Roman characters.” You will typically use romaji when you type out Japanese sentences using a keyboard.

Romaji is the representation of Japanese sounds using the western, 26-letter alphabet,” says Donald Ash, creator of TheJapanGuy.com. “Romaji puts Japanese into a format that most Westerners can read and understand.”

Although romaji is one way to write Japanese syllables, it’s not a completely functional system.

“First of all, there are ways in which the Japanese sound system is different from English,” says Tofugu writer Linda Lombardi. “Second, there’s more than one way to write even some English sounds in English.”

Romaji isn’t used as often as kanji, katakana, and hiragana, but it’s still a good idea to be familiar with it when you’re learning to speak Japanese.

How to Use Romaji for Beginners

Let’s take a look at romaji, and the the standard Japanese syllables.

Hiragana is the basic writing system that is commonly used in Japan. Hiragana uses 46 letters, so there are 46 romaji variations to represent all hiragana. (See the chart below, read from right to left).

romaji to english alphabet chart

Japanese syllables, however, have more variations than 46 because hiragana letters can be combined to describe variations of sounds.

Dakuon and Han-dakuon

Japanese syllables consist of dakuon (impure sounds) and han-dakuon (half-impure sounds). Dakuon sounds occur in the  か (ka), さ (sa), た (ta), and は (ha) rows. The consonants for each row k, s, t, and h should be changed to: g, z, d, and b. See the chart below for examples.

romaji japanese syllables chart - dakuon

Notice that “zi,” and “zu” are used twice for different letters.

Han-dakuon only occur on the “h” consonant row, which changes the sound to a “p.” In Japanese writing, dakuon is described by simply adding two dots right next to the original letters. Han-dakuon uses a small circle instead of dots.

romaji japanese syllables chart - Han-dakuon

Here are some extra tips to keep in mind about romaji:

  • The romaji for じ (zi) and ぢ (zi), ず (zu) and づ (zu) are the same
  • Spelling “zi” to describe the sound can be confusing, because from an English speaker’s perspective, it should be spelled “ji.” The same thing applies for “し” (si/shi) and “つ” (tu/tsu), too.
  • Romaji uses the Hepburn system of romanization, which is a Japanese-English translation system. For example, if you type “ji” on a computer, it will be translated to “じ” automatically.

SEE ALSO: 8 Essential Japanese Greetings

Yôon

Yôon (twisted sound) is formed by combining hiragana. You have already been introduced to the  や (ya), ゆ (yu), and よ (yo) letters in chart 1.

When these three letters follow other letters, [except for the “あ” vowel row, or わ (wa), を (wo), and ん (n)], it’s going to create distinctively different sounds. This conjugation happens to dakuon and han-dakuon sounds as well. See the chart below:

romanized japanese chart - yoon

When や, ゆ, and よ are conjugated with other letters, the size of those three letters has to be smaller. If you write the letters in the same size, it’s not considered a conjugation. It’s just two syllables happening successively.

For example, “きや” is read and written as “kiya” instead of “kya” – one syllable sound. ちゃや which means “tea shop,” is written as “tyaya” in romaji.

Tyôon

Tyôon means “long sound.” It often happens in Japanese when two vowels are written successively. Since all Japanese syllables have a vowel, the vowel in the first syllable can be connected with another vowel directly. When this happens, it creates the feeling of a longer sound.

In Japanese hiragan, tyôon is written as ちょうおん. If you write each syllable in romaji, it would be “tyouon.”

Now let’s focus on the first two syllables of the word, ちょう. The vowel “o” in “tyo” is connected with the vowel “u.” This “ou” sound is considered a “longer sound.”

In official romaji writing, this is supposed to be written so as “tyôu” with a circumflex (a mark placed over a vowel to indicate a contraction or change in length or tone). This longer sound is a very important part of Japanese pronunciation.

You can see this in two common Japanese last names: おおの (Ôno) and おの (ono). These two names are similar but distinctively different.

When you see two Os, you may be tempted to say “oo” as in the word “ooze.” Using a circumflex can help to eliminate this confusion.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. For example, when the vowels “e” and “i” are combined, you can’t use a circumflex. So romaji writing for the term “movie,” えいが, should be written as “eiga.” Just write each syllable rather than “êga,” even though this is still one of the longer sounds.

On the other hand, if two Es are combined, you still have to follow the circumflex rule, even though the pronunciation for “ei” and “ee” are the same. This might sound confusing but with enough practice, anyone can master it!

SEE ALSO: Japanese Vocabulary for the Family

Sokuon

Sokuon means urging sound. I’d describe this as a skipping or jumping sound. These kinds of words are written with a small “tu” in hiragana (いった (went) and やった (did).

Just like yôon, there is a smaller letter in between. In romaji, you should write the two examples as “itta” and “yatta.”

Most of time, romaji writing works when you type on a keyboard. It doesn’t always work perfectly, however – describing Japanese syllables with the alphabet sometimes requires adjustments.

For instance, じ、ず、and ぢ、づ are the same in romaji: “zi, zu.” When you need to type ぢ and づ on the keyboard, you can actually use “di” and “du” because ぢ and づ belong to the だ (da) row in the first chart we shared.

New Japanese syllables have also been added since foreign words and new terms were imported. These new syllables combine vowels and consonants. These syllables are still controversial, and most of them are not even officially acknowledged, even though you can see them everywhere in Japan.

As you can see, romaji is a very unique component of the Japanese language. If you’re having trouble understanding these concepts, seek the help of a Japanese teacher who can break it down into small segments to make it easier for you. Good luck and enjoy learning Japanese!

AndyWPost Author: Kaoru N.
Kaoru N. teaches Japanese and guitar lessons in Brighton, MA. Originally from Tokyo, he graduated from Berklee College of Music with a dual major and is available for local or online lessons. Learn more about Kaoru here!

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Photo by Benjamin Krause

50+ Fascinating Language Facts You Didn’t Know [Infographic]

Looking for interesting language facts? The world is full of diverse and unique languages, from the exotic sounds of Japanese to the romantic expressions of French. How all of these languages originated is often debated.

Ideas such as the “bow wow” theory say that language began with humans imitating the sounds animals make to communicate. Others believe that language was a divine gift, but most agree that all languages developed from a single language into the thousands we have today.

How much do you know about foreign languages? Whether you’re a student learning a second language, a polyglot, or a translator, check out the graphic below. There are dozens of interesting language facts on this list that will inspire you!

50+ Fascinating Language Facts to Inspire You

Language Facts infographic

50+ Language Facts In Detail

  • There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, and most of them are dialects.
  • Cambodian has the longest alphabet with 74 characters. Try making that into an alphabet song!
  • The Bible is the most translated book, followed by Pinocchio.
  • The English word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta.
  • 2,400 of the world’s languages are in danger of becoming extinct and about one language becomes extinct every two weeks.
  • The first printed book was in German.
  • There are over 200 artificial languages in books, movies, and TV shows, such as “Klingon.”
  • The Papuan language of Rotokas only has 11 letters, making it the smallest alphabet.
  • Only 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population!
  • About ⅔ of all languages are from Asia and Africa.
  • French is the main foreign language taught in the UK.
  • Of all the language facts, this one fascinates us the most- at least half of the world’s population is bilingual!
  • Many linguists believe that language originated around 100,000 BC.
  • Basque is a language spoken in the mountains between France and Spain and it has no relation to any other known language. (They didn’t get out much).  
  • South Africa has the most official languages with 11.
  • More than 1.5 million Americans are native French speakers.
  • The Florentine dialect was chosen as the national language of Italy. Most regions in Italy primarily speak their own dialect to this day.
  • Kinshasa is the world’s second largest French speaking city, after Paris. Kinshasa is the capital city in the Congo.
  • There are about 24 official languages spoken throughout Europe.
  • Other than English, French is the only language taught in every country.

  • On average, people only use a few hundred words in daily conversation, while most languages have 50,000+ words.
  • German words can have three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Most languages only have either masculine or feminine.
  • The United States has no “official language.” Most people just assume it’s English.
  • The language of La Gomera spoken off the coast of Spain consists entirely of whistles. (…but what if you can’t whistle?)
  • Over 20,000 new French words are created each year.
  • About 30% of English words come from French.
  • Botswana has a language made up of five primary “click” sounds.
  • Spanish contains about 4,000 Arabic words.
  • German is the most spoken language in Europe. Four countries have it as their official language.
  • Physical contact during a conversation is completely normal when speaking Spanish.

  • Papua New Guinea has the most languages, at 840.
  • Italian is a minority language in Brazil.
  • Over 300 languages are spoken in London alone. No matter what, you have a pretty good chance of finding someone to speak with!
  • The languages spoken in North Korea and South Korea are different. They have distinct vocabularies and grammatical rules due to being separated for so long.
  • The English language contains the most words, with over 250,000.
  • Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
  • Multiple studies have shown that learning a second language can improve the memory and slow the process of aging. This is one of our favorite language facts!
  • Argentina still has a high number of Welsh speakers, due to settlers inhabiting the Patagonia mountains hundreds of years ago.
  • Russian was the first language spoken in outer space.
  • People who speak and understand Chinese use both sides of the brain, whereas English only uses the left side.

  • Twenty-one countries have Spanish as their official language, making it a great choice for travelers.
  • Hindi didn’t become the official language of India until 1965.
  • The Pope tweets in nine languages, but his Spanish account has the most followers.
  • Hawaiians have over 200 different words for “rain.”
  • The culinary and ballet worlds use mostly French words and terms.
  • In Indonesian, “air” means “water.”
  • Japanese uses three different writing systems: Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana.  
  • The U.S. has the second highest number of Spanish speakers, after Mexico.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. If you speak it, you can speak to 13% of the world’s population!
  • Cryptophasia is a language phenomenon that only twins, identical or fraternal, can understand.

Did these fascinating language facts leave you feeling inspired to learn a new language for yourself? Being multilingual opens up many doors from travel opportunities, to friendships, to new careers. It also helps improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

If you’re ready to get started, TakeLessons Live is the perfect resource for those wanting to learn a new language, or sample a few different languages before deciding on one. Try the online classes for free today!

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Sources:

  1. lingualinx.com/blog/12-interesting-facts-languages
  2. twentytwowords.com/25-fascinating-language-facts/5
  3. edudemic.com/language-quiz
  4. spanishtomove.com/blog/item/interesting-facts-about-the-spanish-language
  5. lingualinx.com/blog/interesting-facts-about-the-french-language
  6. thelanguagefactory.co.uk/facts-japanese-language
  7. ethnologue.com/guides/how-many-languages
  8. ancient-origins.net/human-origins-science/origins-human-language-one-hardest-problems-science-003610
  9. listenandlearnusa.com/blog/9-surprising-facts-about-the-german-language
  10. indianeagle.com/travelbeats/hindi-language-history-facts
  11. thelocal.it/20170203/21-mildly-interesting-facts-about-the-italian-language
  12. thechairmansbao.com/10-interesting-facts-figures-mandarin-chinese
How to Learn Russian

How to Learn Russian Fast & Easy with 8 Simple Steps

So you want to know how to learn Russian – the seventh most spoken language in the world. With around 300 million speakers, you certainly won’t have trouble finding other students to practice with!  

There are dozens of good reasons to learn how to speak Russian. Perhaps you admire Russian culture, or maybe you’ve always wanted to visit Moscow or Saint Petersburg as a tourist.

Whatever your motivation, Russian is not an easy language. However, it isn’t as hard as you think either! Follow these eight steps and you’ll start your learning journey on the right foot.

How to Learn Russian in 8 Simple Steps

1) Master the Russian Alphabet

how to learn Russian - letters

If you want to know how to learn Russian, the alphabet is the best place to start. The Russian alphabet is easy to learn because it’s very phonetic. Russians use the “Cyrillic” alphabet, named after the Greek monk, St. Cyril.

The alphabet consists of 33 letters, and it may seem unfamiliar at first. However, it has many similarities to the English alphabet. Some of the letters look and sound exactly like their English counterparts: A, B, D, K, L, M, O, and T.

On the other hand, some Cyrillic letters have the same pronunciation as English letters, but look differently. For example, the Cyrillic “г” sounds like the English “g,” and the Cyrillic “ф” sounds like the English “f.”

There are really only a few new sounds that need to be learned, but the rules of Russian pronunciation are simple. With a few exceptions, you typically pronounce words as they’re spelled and spell them as they’re pronounced.

Realistically, you could learn Cyrillic in a day. While you may make a few mistakes at first, practice will help you learn to distinguish between the English and Russian alphabets.

2) Learn Common Russian Words First

how to learn russian - common words

Every language has words that are more commonly used than others, so it’s helpful to learn these first as they’ll come in handy during daily conversation. Start by learning the words listed below.

  • Здравствуйте (Hello)
  • Привет (Hi)
  • Доброе утро (Good morning)
  • До свидания (Goodbye)
  • Как Вы живёте? (How are you?)
  • Было приятно познакомиться с Вами (Nice to meet you)
  • Да (Yes)
  • Нет (No)
  • Пожалуйста (Please)
  • Спасибо (Thank you)

If you’re learning Russian for a specific purpose, such as travel or business, there will be a set of vocabulary terms that you should work to memorize first. Be sure to let your Russian teacher know your goals and he or she will help you learn the most useful vocabulary right away.

3) Find Cognates in Russian

how to learn Russian

When wondering how to learn Russian quickly, one of the first steps you should take is to find words that have the same meanings in both Russian and English. 

There are many words in Russian that sound just like their English counterparts. Start with the examples below.

  • Телефон (telephone)
  • Компьютер (computer)
  • Такси (taxi)
  • Аэропорт (airport)
  • Лампа (lamp)
  • Технология (technology)
  • Температура (temperature)

4) Learn the Rules of Russian Grammar

how to learn russian grammar

Russian is a very rule-based language. For example, just like in French and Spanish, each noun has a gender assigned to it that you must memorize.

There are three genders in the Russian language: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Here are the rules for determining which gender a certain noun is. Look at the last letter of the word.

  • If it is a consonant, or “й”, the word is masculine.
  • If it is “а” or “я”, the word is feminine.
  • If it is “о” or “е”, the word is neuter.
  • If it is a silent letter, like  “ь”, then it could be either masculine or feminine.

There are very few exceptions to these rules, but the notable ones occur mainly because of physical gender. For example, the following exceptions occur because the person you’re referring to is male, so the word is masculine.

  • Папа (Dad)
  • Дядя (Uncle)
  • Дедушка (Grandfather)
  • Мужчина (Man)

There are many more grammar rules to learn, such as how verbs change tenses, how nouns become plural, etc. It’s best to learn these rules from a professional language tutor to ensure that you’re practicing them properly.

5) Take Advantage of Flexible Sentences

the best way to learn russian - practice writing

Word order in Russian sentences is very flexible and different from the firm, “subject-verb-object” structure that English speakers are used to. For example, in Russian there are several ways to express the statement, “I live in Miami.”

  • Я живу в Маями. (I live in Miami)
  • В Маями я живу. (In Miami I live)
  • Живу в Маями. (Live in Miami) – You can skip the pronoun altogether!

Here is another example using the question, “What did you talk about?”

  • О чём вы говорили? (What did you talk about?)
  • Говорили вы о чём? (Talked you about what?)
  • Вы говорили о чём? (You talked about what?)
  • О чём говорили? (About what talked?)                              

To use the flexibility of Russian sentence structure you need to understand the system of declension which means that nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and numerals change their endings depending on gender, number (singular or plural), and one of six grammatical cases.

You’ll also have to learn how to properly conjugate verbs. For help with some of these trickier concepts, see the next step.

6) Learn From a Russian Teacher

Best way to Learn Russian

Private lessons from an experienced Russian teacher are the best way to learn Russian – whether you take in person or online lessons. A professional, native speaker can provide a structured learning plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

They can lead you through tricky concepts like grammar rules, and give you feedback on your accent and pronunciation.

To find a qualified Russian teacher, check out TakeLessons. Here, you’ll get to search through dozens of teachers’ profiles until you find one who is the right fit for you.

On a teacher’s profile page, you can learn about their background, rates, and read reviews from students who have worked with the teacher before.

7) Read Children’s Books

how to learn Russian - read books

Children’s books are an excellent way to build your grammar and comprehension skills. You might feel silly at first reading a book for children, but keep at it, as this will help lay the foundation for mastering Russian.

If you’re not quite ready to start reading in Russian yet, try listening to audiobooks or use dual language books that show the English and Russian translation side by side. “The Little Prince” (Маленький Принц) by Antoine de Saint Exupery is a great dual language book to start with.  

One of the most popular children’s authors in Russia is Korney Chukowsky. Many have referred to him as the Dr. Seuss of Russia. Here are just a few of his incredible audiobooks that you can find on YouTube.

  • Doctor Ouch (Доктор Айбоит)
  • Telephone (Телефон)
  • Moydodyr (Мойдодыр)

8) Practice Speaking & Writing

best way to learn Russian

The best way to learn Russian quickly is to use every opportunity to speak it. Become more confident and comfortable in your speaking skills by memorizing Russian idioms, common sayings, and practicing short dialogues daily.

When communicating with native speakers, be brave and ask them to correct your mistakes. Need someone to practice with? Find a language partner near you, or online, with sites like Meetup and My Language Exchange.

Lastly, don’t forget to work on your writing skills. Writing is secondary in learning a foreign language, but absolutely necessary.

Keep a vocabulary journal and find a penpal to write to. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and put all the skills you’re learning into practice!

In Conclusion

Now you know the best way to learn Russian. Everyone is capable of mastering a foreign language, but with these tips and tricks under your belt, you’ll be on your way to learning Russian faster.

Once you master Russian, you’ll be able to better appreciate the rich Russian culture – including the famous writings of Leo Tolstoy, brilliant composers like Tchaikovsky, and the glory of Russian ballet.

If you’re a world traveler, you’ll also be able to explore spectacular beaches, experience the taiga with its diverse wildlife, and visit the Russian Far East like a local.

There is so much to do and see in Russia. Speaking the native language will help you fully experience all that Russia has to offer, and meet all sorts of fascinating people along the way. Get started today!

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Is Saxophone Hard to Learn? Read This Before Taking Lessons.

Is saxophone hard to learn

“Is saxophone hard to learn?” Not exactly. The saxophone, like many instruments, is not difficult to begin playing. It can however, be challenging to master

Many people say that it’s easy to make a sound on the saxophone, but harder to make a good sound (at least, at first). But if you’re considering getting started with saxophone lessons – don’t be discouraged! Any self-disciplined student can progress in their saxophone skills by taking the right steps as a beginner. Keep reading to learn more.  

Is Saxophone Hard to Learn?

The saxophone should be easy to get a sound out of on the first day. If the sound is not responding, the reed and mouthpiece are likely being squeezed together as a result of too much jaw pressure.

The way that you hold your lips on the mouthpiece of the saxophone is called the “embouchure.” This is the most important aspect of learning the saxophone and it has a great impact on tone quality. This skill is developed over several years and will require a great amount of coaching.

You may still be wondering, “Is saxophone hard to learn?” The truth is, certain people will have an easier time learning the saxophone than others. For example, students younger than middle school age shouldn’t take saxophone lessons because of their smaller hands and mouth.

Is saxophone hard to learn

On the other hand, people who have prior experience on any wind instrument, especially woodwinds such as the clarinet, will adapt to the saxophone very quickly. Fortunately, the fingering system for the saxophone is not as complicated as other woodwind instruments.

One of the biggest challenges of the saxophone is that it’s not an instantly gratifying instrument. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop good tone quality.

Some students get frustrated that they don’t sound like a professional within the first month or two. These unrealistic expectations can set a student on a course for disappointment. Keep in mind that college music majors who have been playing the saxophone for eight years still have a lot to learn!

The Easiest Way to Learn the Saxophone

Now that you no longer have to ask, “Is saxophone hard to learn?” you’re probably wondering how to get started. Initially, it’s very important to develop fundamental skills on the saxophone, and not simply work on playing the same songs over and over.

Working on the embouchure, scales, articulation, dynamic control, and vibrato will strengthen your abilities as a saxophonist. To start your learning journey with ease, follow the simple steps below and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Choose Your Equipment Wisely

When beginning to learn the saxophone, having quality equipment can make a huge difference. Stay away from “value” brands. Professionals will tell you that if you’re worried about the initial cost, it’s better to get a used instrument from a trusted brand rather than a cheap, brand new instrument.

To get started on the saxophone, you’ll need some standard equipment for beginners.  Here are our best recommendations:

  • The Selmer S80 C* mouthpiece
  • Vandoren Traditional “Blue Box” reeds (strength 2.5)
  • A Bonade ligature
  • Yamaha or Selmer saxophone. Most beginners start on an alto saxophone (the smaller of the two), although some begin on the tenor saxophone.

Is saxophone hard to learn

For your neck-strap, simply make sure that it is rigid and not stretchy. Most music educators will agree that this is a good quality beginning setup.

Find an Experienced Saxophone Instructor

The best thing a beginning saxophonist can do is to choose a good private instructor. TakeLessons has a great selection of experienced saxophone instructors for both online and in-person lessons. Be sure to choose a teacher who can help you reach your specific goals.

If you hope to play in the jazz, pop, or rock genres, it’s best to start with a classical instructor and classical equipment. This type of instruction will help you build a solid foundation of tone, reading ability, and technique. 

Practice, Practice, and more Practice!

Mastering any instrument is a lot of work, but remember to have fun! With your teacher’s suggestions and feedback in mind, put in the hours properly practicing your instrument. Then, as a reward at the end of your practice session, try some improvisation or play your favorite song.

Including this important step in your practice routine will help you stay motivated. In addition, reminding yourself at the end of a practice session why you love the saxophone will help you avoid frustration and continue thinking positively about your progress.

Now you’re ready to get started. Search TakeLessons today for a qualified saxophone teacher near you. The journey of becoming a saxophonist can be a winding road, but it will also be incredibly rewarding. Good luck!

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5 Keys to Mastering Opera Singing Technique

Opera singing technique

Opera singers are known as the true “vocal athletes” in the music world. They must rely entirely on their body to be heard: no microphones allowed. (Unless they’re performing in a stadium, of course)! Operatic singing requires voices that can easily be heard over a full orchestra in very large houses.

Although pop music dominates today’s televised talent shows and the radio, opera is still a celebrated art form that is more accessible than ever. Every year, many young singers begin their studies of opera singing technique in the hopes that they will have a successful career singing the music of composers like Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi.

Have you always wondered what it takes to become an opera singer? Let’s take a look at the five keys to mastering opera singing technique so you can find out how to get started!

How to Master Opera Singing Technique 

1. Find the Right Teacher

An opera voice teacher must have a strong knowledge of the “bel canto” technique, which means “beautiful singing” in Italian. Renowned opera singers such as Maria Callas and Jussi Bjorling knew the importance of bel canto and made it a point to study with such teachers often.

When looking for an opera instructor on TakeLessons, you can easily find someone with experience who specializes in bel canto. See if the instructor lists who their teachers were, and what master classes or other programs they have attended. If you’re really serious about opera, you should study with someone who has learned from the experts.

2. Practice Opera Singing Technique Daily

Yes, daily. Opera singing requires more than other genres, and to succeed you must have stamina. There are several helpful resources you can purchase that opera singers use, including the vocal exercise books by Vaccai, Concone, and Sieber. These books are inexpensive and can be used daily to improve your opera singing technique!

It’s important that you spend time perfecting your arias. However, keep in mind that there is such a thing as practicing too much! While there isn’t a magic number of minutes that every singer should practice, listen to your body. If you feel any sort of fatigue, it’s best to stop for the day so you don’t strain or damage your voice.

Check out the video below for more helpful tips, including some good opera songs for beginners that you can try.

3. Study the Greats

The best opera singers were considered great because there was consistency in their voices, and they knew how to treat them! Watch them closely and you’ll start to notice things, like how they never “push” or put forth way too much effort when they sing.

They also knew what roles were appropriate for them, as they were fully aware of what their voices could and couldn’t do. Dame Joan Sutherland was often approached to sing heavy Wagner repertoire, but she declined knowing it would ruin her voice. She instead stuck with the bel canto repertoire, which showcased her incomparable coloratura skills.

There is a reason why people still talk about artists such as Sutherland and tenor Luciano Pavarotti to this day. Both were absolutely committed to the art of bel canto.  They both enjoyed long careers on the opera stage because of their reliable technique.

Here is a YouTube video of them describing some of the basics of bel canto, along with revered mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.

4. Take Care of Your Instrument

You are the instrument! Unlike a pianist or guitarist, you can’t put your instrument away – it is with you at all times and you must care for it almost obsessively. Opera singers should be sure to have an exercise regimen and a healthy diet.  

Many famous opera singers practice yoga as it helps them breathe more effectively. It’s also critical that opera singers get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated at all times. As for your diet, it’s best that singers avoid caffeine and too much dairy, as it can cause acid reflux and excess mucus.

Operas are not known for being short performances. As mentioned previously, you will need lots of physical and mental stamina to sing your role well! Keeping your body and voice in tip top shape is necessary to improve your opera singing technique.

5. Study a Few New Languages

Americanized vowels, such as the diphthongs you hear in country music, are frowned upon when singing opera. This can be one of the biggest challenges singers face when learning opera singing technique, but a good voice teacher will help you master “pretty vowels” (which bel canto is all about)!

The main languages to focus on for opera singing are Italian, French, and German. The more you gain basic knowledge of each language, the more beautiful your vocal lines will be in your arias.

Beginning singers should consider taking classes in as many of these languages as possible. Depending on what happens with your opera career, you might be visiting these European countries and you’ll need to know how to communicate with the locals, too!

So there you have it. If you can master opera singing technique, you can sing anything! Are you ready to get serious? The best place to start is TakeLessons. Find the right classically trained vocal coach for you today!

mollyrPost Author: Molly M.
Molly M. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Schaumburg, IL. Her specialties include teaching Opera and Classical Voice to beginners, shy singers, children, and older beginners. Molly started teaching in 2002. Learn more about Molly here!

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