25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers 500x300

25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers [With Videos]

25 Top Audition Songs for Classical Singers 720x300

As a classical singer, you have a variety of things you might be auditioning for, from young artist programs (also known as YAPs) and vocal contests to gigs at restaurants or on cruise ships! There are a few things to consider for each situation, so here is a helpful list of tips, as well as the top classical audition songs for sopranos, tenors, mezzos, and baritones!

You can also jump ahead using these links:

Top Classical Audition Songs

For a Young Artist Program Audition:

It’s essential that every fach (operatic voice type) has a solid aria in English. Almost every program will ask for one, so below are some good repertoire options to consider.

For soprano:

  • “Laurie’s Song” from Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land”
    This is a beautiful aria to show off a young lyric soprano!

For mezzo:

  • “Must the Winter Come So Soon?” from Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa”
    This song is short, has a gorgeous line, and is age appropriate. This is exactly the sort of thing a singer needs for a Young Artist Program.

For tenor:

  • “Lonely House” from “Street Scene” by Kurt Weill
    This is another aria that is age appropriate. And for lyric tenors, this will show you off like nothing else, both vocally and dramatically.

For baritone:

  • “Warm as the Autumn Light” from Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe”
    This song has a soaring vocal line to show off your strong middle voice! At just under three minutes, this is another perfect choice for an audition song.

For Cruise Ships, Parties, or Restaurant Auditions:

For these types of auditions, you should consider the “party hits” of classical music! This can include some Italian folk songs that can be sung by any voice type. You’ll want to choose melodies that people that aren’t opera buffs know and love.

For soprano:

  • “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Boheme”
    Everyone knows this one! It’s happy, super familiar, and shows off your killer high notes!

Another winner for a soprano is “O mio babbino caro” from another Puccini opera, “Gianni Schicchi”. All sopranos can sing this one. Just be careful not to drag the tempo; it’s actually meant to be a humorous aria!

For mezzo:

  • “Habanera” from “Carmen”
    You can’t go wrong with “Carmen”, and this one in particular is flirtatious and fun.

For tenor:

  • “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot”
    Yes, it’s the tenor anthem. But needless to say, you must have serious technique and power to make this one work. If you can nail this one, the job is likely yours!

If you want something a little more lighthearted but still a big hit, there is always Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” from “Rigoletto”. Everyone knows and adores this one!

For baritone:

  • “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”
    This is a great choice for a classical audition song if you want to draw in a non-opera crowd. Most people will recognize this one, and you can show off your amazing vocal agility and comedic chops.

Another hit from “Carmen” is the beloved “Toreador Song”. How can a baritone not have fun with this classic?

For any voice:

  • “O Sole Mio” (Italian standard)
    This cheerful folk tune is yet another song people know and love. It can be sung in various keys if you’re a mezzo or baritone.

Another great Italian folk song is “Funiculi Funicula”. Tenors especially will love this one because of the ringing high notes, but don’t let that hold you back if you’re another voice type!

For Vocal Competitions:

If you’re selecting classical audition songs for a vocal competition, I recommend repertoire in different languages besides the standard Italian, French, German, and English. This will be sure to impress the panel!

For soprano:

  • “Song to the Moon” from Dvořák’s “Rusalka”
    What a gorgeous aria! It’s magical when sung with a beautifully spun line.

For mezzo:

  • “Olga’s Aria” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”
    This is a great choice to show off your charm, your low vocal range, and your Russian!

For tenor:

  • “Lensky’s Aria”, also from “Eugene Onegin”
    This is an absolutely breathtaking aria, with tons of drama and high notes galore. How can you go wrong?

For baritone:

  • “Forester’s Monologue” from Janacek’s “Cunning Little Vixen”
    This song is a bit longer, but what a gem! It’s hardly overdone, which makes it an excellent choice.

For an Opera Company Audition:

For an opera company audition, consider a piece that will prove you can act, too! Longer arias are definitely okay here.

For soprano:

  • “To This We’ve Come” from Menotti’s “The Consul”
    Wow, talk about an acting feast! This is high drama at its best, and is sure to impress!

For mezzo:

  • “The letters aria” from Massenet’s “Werther”
    If you can sing this beautifully and tug at our heartstrings, you’ve probably got the role!

For tenor:

  • “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s “Tosca”
    Full of passion, this is more than just about high notes.

For baritone:

  • “Pari Siamo” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”
    Verdi was the king of Italian drama. This song, the tortured title character’s aria, is no exception.

For Undergraduate and Graduate Programs:

Make sure you have a Mozart aria! He’s the bread and butter of operatic repertoire, after all, and chances are your program will be doing one of his operas while you are there.

For soprano:

  • “Dove Sono” from “The Marriage of Figaro”
    This can be sung by both light- or heavy-voiced sopranos. This character, The Countess, has two fabulous arias, but “Dove Sono” has a bit more motion to it, and is awfully fun to sing.

For mezzo:

  • Dorabella’s aria from “Così fan tutte”
    This one sits a bit high and is best for lyric mezzos, but it’s a great one!

For tenor:

  • Tamino’s aria from “The Magic Flute”
    Mozart wrote some challenging arias for tenor! Mozart tenors need a light, lyric sound, and this aria is perfect for that kind of voice.

For baritone:

  • “The Catalog Aria” from “Don Giovanni”
    Not only will this one show off your excellent musicality, it’s also so funny!

There you have it — 25 excellent classical audition songs that will show you off, whether they’re tried and true hits or lesser-known gems.

Another great resource for repertoire recommendations is your voice teacher, of course! Don’t have one? No problem! There are so many wonderful voice teachers on Takelessons available to help, many with classical backgrounds. As you prepare for your vocal audition, working with a voice teacher will put you at a huge advantage.

Happy singing, and good luck at your audition! For even more ideas, see these audition songs for tenors, audition songs for altos, audition songs for sopranos, or songs for contraltos.

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by U.S. Army

The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres

The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles (Red)

There are so many different singing styles and genres out there — how do you keep track of them? What are the best vocal exercises for singers of each genre? Music teacher Heather L. answers these questions and more in this ultimate guide…


We, as human beings, have been singing since we discovered that we had voices. Of course, a lot about singing has changed since that time. Different cultures around the world through the centuries came up with their own scales and modes, and different types of music and singing emerged.

These styles, or genres of music, are just as diverse and varied as the cultures themselves. Each genre has its own special characteristics that make it different from others, and each genre presents unique challenges for singers. Here’s a list of the most common genres of music, and how to sing each one.

But first:  Take our quiz to find out what genre you’re destined to sing!


If music is food, then pop is candy. It’s fun, but not necessarily funny. Romantic, but not overly sentimental. With dance and rhythm at its heart, pop music has dominated a lot of American music over the past 30 or so years, and many singers have come and gone. But several have come to be considered the greatest entertainers of all time: Whitney Houston, Madonna, Prince, and the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Pop Singers

  • Learn how to control your vibrato without tension.
  • Experiment with different vocal sounds, like short, popping sounds and fast runs.
  • Focus on improving your movement on stage and take dance lessons, if necessary.

Famous Pop Singers

  • Tori Kelly

Tori chose a really high key for this song. She also chose to accentuate the lyrics of the song with a short, light texture in her voice. That kind of texture makes everything easier to sing in your high register.

  • Whitney Houston

At 2:05 in this video, Whitney uses a fast run on the end of the word “all.” Notice how she doesn’t make it overly dramatic and uses those runs only a few times in the song. Sometimes, too many runs can be distracting from the song’s message.

  • Bruno Mars

Bruno sings tenderly because it’s a tender song. His voice is so free of tension that he seems to float up into his falsetto.



You might be surprised to learn that rock is a grandchild of the blues. After it became heavier and more dance-ably rhythmic, the music began to “rock” — and rock and roll was born! It grew up to become rougher and edgier, and now, rock vocal sounds are as diverse as in any other genre.

Today, rock singers include voices as different as Adam Lambert, Tom Araya of Slayer, James Hetfield of Metallica, and Bono of U2. But that rougher and edgier part of rock has to be, at least in some ways, a defining characteristic of the rock voice. Otherwise, it might be confused with an adult contemporary or pop voice.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Rock Singers

  • Try out different vocal flairs, like a little growling or vocal fry at the end of song sections, but don’t overdo it.
  • Get comfortable singing a huge range of dynamics, from whispers (used sparingly for the health of your voice) to healthy, supported shouting.
  • Don’t be afraid of your own vibrato.

Famous Rock Singers

  • Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury was known for quite a theatrical kind of rock. Notice how easily he transitions from one dynamic to another, using subtlety when it’s needed for effect, and rough growling when the lyrics call for it, like at 2:20.

  • John Fogerty

In a great example of what I call a “defiance rock song,” John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival sings this song with the emotional sense of defiance. He clearly has a hold of being what we now call a “singing actor,” though it’s doubtful that the vocals were planned as such.

  • Ann Wilson

In this video the lead singer of Heart, paying tribute to the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, keeps a true sense of her own voice, but doesn’t change the vocals so much that it’s disrespectful to the original. She’s clearly not afraid of her own vibrato, using it as a tool to accentuate certain lyrics, like at 4:24.



Often considered the most formal and restrictive of all genres of singing, classical and opera singing actually require the greatest amount of freedom. Much of it’s sung with uncontrolled vibrato and total emotional release. It is, however, the least conversational of all genres. Because it lacks the intimacy of that conversational quality with the audience (think folk music), it has the tendency to give audiences the impression of admiring a beautiful painting from afar.

The classical genre includes secular arias and religious oratorios, as well as motets. Opera singing is similar, but it’s part of a stage production, often involving dancing and speaking parts. Think of opera as a musical with classical singing instead of Broadway-style singing.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Opera Singers

  • Don’t try to sound like how you think an opera singer sounds. Sing with an open and free voice.
  • Vibrato sometimes develops over time as we let go of more and more tension. Don’t force it or try to create it.
  • Get a voice teacher. Soon. Opera singing can seldom be taught without a good teacher. 

Famous Opera and Classical Singers

  • Bryn Terfel

In this incredibly dramatic scene from Mozart’s interpretation of the Don Juan story, Bryn Terfel is the actor in the reddish-brown cloak. Watch how intense and exaggerated his facial expressions are throughout the scene.

  • Kiri Te Kanawa

Singing one of the best-loved arias ever written is one of the best-loved sopranos to have ever lived. Amazingly, this performance was given when Dame Te Kanawa was 69 years old. She is an incredible example of how you can sing beautifully through your entire life if you take good care of your voice.

  • Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson’s distinguished career is marked not only by fantastic singing, but also by courageous defiance in the face of racism. After being rejected by the Daughters of the American Revolution for being a black performer, she sang instead for a larger group of supporters, facing the very building that she was banned from. Her voice is flawless, in spite of the shortcomings of the old recordings, but more importantly, her heart can be heard in everything she sings.

In the video above, she sang for a beautiful Christmas program. Notice her alignment. It remains consistent throughout the changes in the song.



An overly simple way to think of the country genre is fancy folk (read: glossy folk pop). But it’s had quite a history through the years, having evolved from Appalachian mountain music, southern blues, country-western and what’s called “honky-tonk.”

I recommending listening to many different country voices so that you don’t get into the trap of imitating only the big voices. Think about how different Carrie Underwood’s voice is from Miranda Lambert’s. Check out the differences between Hank Williams, Jr. and Luke Bryan. And listen to classic singers like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Country Singers

  • Don’t force a “country” accent. If you listen to a lot of country music, then over time, a natural twang will come when you sing.
  • Become familiar with great storytelling; that’s where country comes from! Listen to professional storytellers on YouTube.
  • Be willing to wear your heart on your sleeve. Audiences love when country singers share their feelings, and your credibility is based on your ability to be genuine.

Famous Country Singers

  • George Jones

In one of the most famous country songs of all time, the irreplaceable George Jones exemplifies the all-important skills of storytelling and a down-to-earth singing style. Notice that there isn’t a lot of vibrato here; it’s almost as if Jones is too busy telling a story to hold out a note and show off!

  • Carrie Underwood

Both this song and this video are great examples of country – images and talk of American home-grown families and open hearts. Carrie, season 4 winner of American Idol, knows just how to use her voice to a song’s advantage. She floats a note (sings it lightly) when it’s a tender moment and then sings with a heavier tone when it’s a heavier moment.

  • Loretta Lynn

The ultimate story song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” was Loretta Lynn’s biggest hit. Is it the personable nature of the lyrics? Maybe. Take note of how similar her speaking voice (at the beginning of the video) is to her singing voice. This can be achieved through the study of something called “speech level singing.”



The blues were born in the American south from the spirituals of slaves and the call-and-response music of the Southern church. Think of jazz as its slightly more sophisticated child who never forgot its roots. Jazz singing is characterized by clear, “speech level” singing and distinct consonants, while blues singing has a rough or rootsy edge to it, sometimes with a natural Southern accent.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Blues and Jazz Singers

  • You can’t sing the blues and jazz right without knowing its history, in your mind and in your heart. Watch Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary and the Thelonius Monk documentary, “Straight, No Chaser.”
  • Experiment with different vocal sounds, like pitch slides and scatting.
  • Study up on your music theory, especially your chromatic scales.

Famous Blues and Jazz Singers

  • Cassandra Wilson

Though she may not be the best-selling jazz artist, Cassandra Wilson is considered by many to be the best living jazz singer. Her voice is perfect for it — rich, thoughtful, and focused. Notice at around 3:05, she begins to use pitch slides, perhaps to accentuate a
rather creepy part of a powerful jazz classic.

  • Sarah Vaughan

Once described as having “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century,”
Grammy award-winning Sarah Vaughan was known for a sensitive but easy tone. Notice how almost nonchalant she is throughout “Someone to Watch Over Me.” At 2:15, Vaughan effortlessly shows off an impressive vocal range and some great improvisation skills, simply by jumping up to a random note while remaining in the song’s key.

  • Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is so important to jazz music that most experts agree that it wouldn’t have been developed, or even survived, without his contributions. Now some voice scientists and physicians might point to a few voice pathologies in Louis: that unusually rough voice. But here we have a great example of a singer who loved what he did and knew how to make people feel happy and entertained.


Hip Hop

Hip hop, the heavily rhythmic and rhyming singing that often accompanies rapping and beatboxing, emerged in the 1970s, and has grown steadily in popularity since then. In fact, that popularity has turned into tremendous influence on other singing genres, including pop and country. Its origins are many, but the most apparent are funk, disco, reggae, and the blues. Singers of hip hop are diverse, but the singing generally takes on an edgy, sometimes nasal qualities.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Hip Hop Singers

  • Know hip hop’s musical ancestry. Listen to a lot of funk, disco, reggae, soul, gospel, blues, and old-school hip hop.
  • You don’t have to become a rapper, but get comfortable switching between singing and speaking lyrics to help your versatility.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vocal sounds, like nasality and wordplay, to create your own signature style.

Famous Hip Hop Singers

  • Lauryn Hill

See if you can hear the song’s Spanish and gospel influences. Despite these varied sounds, Lauryn stays true to her own voice, which is stunningly consistent in tone and texture. It’s important to listen to influences with respect, without allowing it to pressure you to imitate anyone.

  • Beyonce

In this heart-stopping acoustic performance of her hit “Halo,” Beyonce has full command of her voice. It’s as if her voice is an arrow, she aims at the bull’s eye, and hits it every time. In other words, her pitch is always right and her transition between the lower register in the verses and the upper register in the chorus is seamless.

  • Cee Lo Green

Originally, the hit “Crazy” was created and released by Gnarls Barkley, a musical duo consisting of rapper and hip hop singer Cee Lo Green and producer Danger Mouse. In this video, Cee Lo sings the song at a much slower tempo than the original, allowing for a lot of time for both the performer and the listener to really think about the meaningful lyrics. Green is a fabulous singer, and here is an excellent example of the courage to reinvent a song, even your very own!

Adult Contemporary

Adult contemporary is such a unique genre, because singers from relatively different genres often get put into this camp as well, or end up here at the height of their career. It’s essentially pop singing, but the lyrics are decidedly grown-up, or “adult.” Think of it as the Mom and Dad of teenage bubblegum pop. You’re not singing, for example, about that “party in the U.S.A.” You’re singing about life’s experiences gone by in the U.S.A., what you’ve learned, and the plans for your future.

Adult contemporary has been called “vanilla,” bland and boring, but often, the most magnificent songs ever are forever embedded in its charts. This means singing at your best.

Tips & Vocal Exercises for Adult Contemporary Singers

  • Learn how to sing consistently with a well-supported sound and power will come naturally.
  • Get into the habit of speaking the lyrics of the song out loud before singing them.
  • Don’t add too many effects to your voice; singing with whatever you have, in its truest form, is adult contemporary.

Famous Adult Contemporary Singers

  • Bruce Hornsby

This is a classic example of an adult contemporary theme – the songwriters here are reflecting on their own lives and on life in general. Bruce Hornsby’s easy, almost-nonchalant style comes across as utterly conversational, perfect for singing about down-to-earth themes.

  • Amy Grant

Amy Grant successfully crossed over from contemporary Christian music (which she practically created herself) to pop and adult contemporary. All the while, she never really changed her vocal sound. Throughout this video, she uses dynamics to her advantage to highlight certain words in the lyrics, like at the very end, when she gets tenderly quiet at the last “I will remember you.”


The Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres

Share this Image On Your Site

Lists of Musical Genres

Of course, that’s not all! There are so many different styles of music to discover, as well as sub-genres within each category. For a comprehensive list of musical genres, AllMusic is a great resource. We also love this interactive genre map from Every Noise at Once.

Bonus: Take our quiz, What Genre Are You Destined to Sing? (and let us know your results in the comments!) 

Final Words…

Despite all of the ways that genres of music are different, one thing connects them all. All singing, at its very base, is simply sustained speech. And while practice are utterly essential to learning the different styles, just as important is listening to plenty of music, both in that style and in others. And when you listen, remember to keep not only your ears open, but also your heart. That’s what makes us artists.

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to singing styles! There are a lot of styles and genres that I haven’t covered in this guide, which means you can still find the perfect fit for you. If you have additional questions, check in with your singing teacher for help with finding your unique voice. Happy singing!

Readers, what are your favorite genres to sing? Let us know in the comments!

HeatherLPost Author: Heather L.
Heather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

Photo by *Shantel*

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

8 Beautiful Opera Arias for Beginner Singers

Opera arias for beginning classical singers

It is always exciting when a vocal student is ready to start studying his or her first operatic aria! One of the best things about being a classical singer is knowing you have so many great years ahead of you. After all, you’re considered in your prime in your 40s.

That being said, realize that the voice you have now and the repertoire you’ll first study will be very, very different from what you sing later on in your career. It’s absolutely crucial that you sing repertoire that is not too heavy for your young voice, or you may damage it. Fear not — here is a list of some of the most beautiful opera songs, all of which are marvelous starting points for all voice types.

Opera Arias for Sopranos

“L’ho perduta”

This cute little aria is from one of Mozart’s greatest hits, “The Marriage of Figaro”. The character singing it is Barbarina. Believe it or not, the soprano who first sung this role was 12… so this is indeed suitable for a young singer with operatic aspirations!

“O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi”

This is another short but wonderful aria that everyone knows and loves. It’s beautiful and perfect for a lighter, lyric voice. Do be careful to avoid dragging the tempo: many sopranos have taken it too slowly.

Opera Arias for Mezzo-Sopranos

“Voi che sapete” from “Marriage of Figaro”

This charming aria, sung by the page boy Cherubino, is a terrific intro to the “trouser roles” often sung by mezzos. With a lilting melody and a chance to show off some chest voice, it’s a true winner.

“Must the Winter Come So Soon?” from Barber’s “Vanessa”

This is a beautiful aria from an American opera that is not performed too often. It may not be a long aria, but the vocal line is gorgeous. It’s essential that young singers prepare a few arias that are in English.

SEE ALSO: It’s Time to Refresh Your Arias When… 

Opera Arias for Baritones

“Se vuol ballare” from the “Marriage of Figaro”

Let’s face it: this opera has an aria for everyone! This aria, sung by Figaro, is a solid choice for beginning baritone. It’s a perfect moderate tempo — and also has a few high notes.

“Vecchia zimarra” from Puccini’s “La Boheme”

It may be another short aria, but it packs a powerful punch since it’s from a very dramatic opera! This one is a favorite for a reason. Puccini didn’t write an awful lot for baritones!

Opera Arias for Tenors

“Quanto e bella” from Donizetti’s “ L’elisir d’amore”

This moderate tempo aria is ideal for a light lyric tenor! The character is the lovestruck Nemorino, and this opera song has been sung by many of the greats, including Luciano Pavarotti.

“Lonely House” from Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene”

Weill’s music may be challenging to learn, but this haunting aria suits a young singer’s voice. This aria will also give a strong actor a chance to set himself apart from other tenors that just want to stand there and sound pretty.

Want more song recommendations by voice type, beyond opera? Check out our song ideas here, including best picks for auditions, talent shows, and gigs.

Your voice teacher is another great resource for suggestions. He or she will undoubtedly have many more ideas for you. If classical singing interests you, it’s very important to be working with a voice coach, as opera is a lot tougher to sing than many other genres.

Have fun exploring the rich and wonderful world of opera! To continue learning, check out our Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres!

Readers, what are your picks for the most beautiful opera songs? Let us know in the comments! 

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Jasn

From Queen to Carassimi. Keeping Classical Music current for Teens

How to Get Your Child Excited About Singing Classical Music

From Queen to Carassimi. Keeping Classical Music current for TeensIs your child excited about taking voice lessons — but ONLY wants to sing Taylor Swift or Bruno Mars? Read on as Pittsburgh, PA teacher Jennifer V. shares two secrets to introducing him or her to classical music without a fight…


Sometimes really cool things can get a reputation for being weird, boring, or even scary. Take classical music, for example. As parents, you might be thinking of enrolling your kids in classical voice lessons or constantly playing Beethoven at home because of everything you’ve heard about the benefits of learning music.

Unfortunately, many teachers (and parents) push classical songs on students without making it fun. Picture this: your child has a few voice lessons and everything is going swimmingly, then one day, she walks in the door with a big heavy book of foreign language songs and a look of panic in her eyes. Your heart sinks; you know that look. It’s the look that ended ballet lessons, and why the violin is in the attic with the tap shoes. The look plainly says, “I don’t wanna do this, I want to stop taking voice lessons.” So what do you do next?

First, don’t worry! Sometimes all it takes is sitting down with your child and looking at things from a different perspective. Music, after all, is a timeless way to not only enrich our children, but also connect with them!

Here are some tips to do just that:

Listen to the Music (oh yeah!)

Before lessons begin, take some time to listen to music that has pieces of classical and rock in them. Electric guitars that play with opera singers can be very cool to listen to! Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift can sound great with piano but they can also sound totally amazing with violin.

Other examples are Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Barcelona” by Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballé. The latter has a lot of fireworks and huge drums — watch it below:

“Lacrymosa” by Evanescence is another great example, based on the Lacrimosa movement from Mozart’s Requiem. There are so many amazing examples when you really look and listen! Continue looking for songs like these to give your child a taste of classical songs.

Talk about the Tunes

After listening to music like this, try chatting about it! You don’t have to be a Puccini expert to do this. Ask questions like: “Wow, so what did you think of that guitar solo?” and “What if you were to add some drums in that part of song, how do you think that would sound?” Sometimes a few casual questions can lead to some really amazing conversations, and the idea of studying and singing classical songs won’t seem as archaic.

Listening and finding a way to relate classical music to your child’s interests can really make a huge difference. Active listening goes a long way in the classroom, but it also makes a huge difference when introducing a new activity.

If you haven’t signed up for singing lessons yet, go forth and give it a shot — find out how much Brahms and Bohemian Rhapsody can enrich your child’s life!

jen v

Jennifer V. teaches singing and music performance in Pittsburgh, PA.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma from Duquesne University, as well as a Certificate of Contemporary Vocal Pedagogy from Shenandoah Universtiy. Learn more about Jennifer V. here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Electric Images

The Spaghetti and Meatballs of Singing in Italian

singing ItalianAs a singer, you’ll come across songs in Italian or other languages that are great to practice and perform. Here, Pittsburgh, PA teacher Jennifer V. shares her tips for tackling songs as you learn to sing in a foreign language…


Imagine walking into a voice lesson and your teacher casually places a book on the table that reads “24 Art Songs”. You open the book to see where the pretty pictures of paintings are and… you see a bunch of unknown words. Your teacher gives you a big smile and says, “Let’s try singing in a foreign language this time!”

You freeze. Visions of ninth grade Spanish and French class whirl in your head. There is no WAY you can do this.

Well, I’m here to tell you, as a person who used to believe she’d never learn to sing in one language, let alone four, there is always a way! Like any other subject, you simply need a game plan to learn the nuts and bolts of a song. And your voice teacher will be there to help you every step of the way! All you need to do is take a deep breath and follow these steps:

1. Find out what you’re saying. This can usually be done by going to websites like The LiederNet Archive. There you can type in your song and – bam! – a translation is born.

2. Keep in mind that many art songs are about things we know about. “Caro Mio Ben” is about someone who is dear to us. “Vittoria mio cuore” means “Victorious my heart is!” Usually the plots and ideas aren’t too far from our daily lives. I also suggest my students highlight the main words and meanings, so there is no confusion. Colored pencils can be purchased with erasers and can make a big difference in learning. Sometimes all we really need is to see the differences.

3. Speak the words slowly. Have your teacher say them for you, one sentence at a time. Then try it yourself! If you stumble it is no big deal. Everyone does and that is how we learn. After saying the words, have your teacher record them for you on your phone or recording device. Another excellent thing to do is go through your vowels, which can help with pronunciation of the Italian words. An example of this is: a as in “father” is how you pronounce an a in Italian. Same with as in “close.” It takes a little practice, but you will get it!

With my students I begin by saying the words like poetry, giving them a rhythmic feel. I then have my student say them with me and, if needed, I say the words while I play the song, so they can understand how the rhythm and sentences work together.

The next step is when everything begins to come together. We use our musical skills and add rhythm. Counting the measures, beats, and words help make the piece of music not sound so foreign and weird. It’s finally just becoming another piece of music!

Finally, the last step is my favorite! After practicing the words, pitch, rhythm, and translation, it’s time to learn to sing the song! But so we don’t go crazy too fast, maybe start singing the piece on la, and slowly adding the words. When we learn a habit it can be very difficult to fix, so it’s better to go nice and slow.

Singing in a foreign language can be very intimidating. To this day I take a deep breath and have to go through the steps myself. But the truth is, these wonderful composers from vibrant, foreign lands and cultures were simply just telling us a story in their own language, and asking us to keep a story alive for years to come. They are stories of falling in love, losing a beloved, or slaying a enemy in battle. Even things as simple as the beauty of a flower. With patience, love, and some elbow grease, anyone can learn to sing in a foreign language.


Jennifer V. teaches singing and music performance in Pittsburgh, PA.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma from Duquesne University, as well as a Certificate of Contemporary Vocal Pedagogy from Shenandoah Universtiy. Learn more about Jennifer V. here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

How to Transition from Classical Singing to Pop | Exploring Genres in Singing


There are so many different styles and genres to learn to sing, from classical singing to jazz. Read on for some tips from vocal coach Heather L. about exploring pop music, even if you started out with classical training…

This article, however instructional, is a very personal one for me to write. After studying opera and classical singing exclusively for 10 years, I finally admitted to myself that while I still loved to sing, I no longer loved to sing in that style. And while that part of my journey gave me the knowledge and confidence to find my life’s work, teaching music, I wanted to return to the kind of music that inspired me to start singing in the first place: pop.

Here is the story of a similar singer who gained experience switching between classical and pop singing. Note the differences she mentions between the two styles, and then continue reading below for some helpful tips to begin transitioning from classical to pop.

As my longest and most impactful voice teacher once told me, the biggest difference between classical music and pop is that in classical music, the music is more important than the words, and in pop, the words are more important than the music. Understanding this notion has helped me greatly in my own path from the world where the most gorgeous aria could be about a tree, to the world where a simple, unfulfilling melody is matched with profound lyrics about civil rights. This is an important principle that could begin your process of transition. Here are the rest of the steps.

• Start listening to a lot of (quality) pop

You’ve really got to feed yourself with pop music is order to familiarize yourself with the style. Many classical singers who’ve crossed over to pop are critiqued, as the results are sometimes unsuccessful. They sound silly because the singer, however fantastic and admired in his original genre, never really “got” the elements of the style — the dips, the scoops, the combination of straight tone and vibrato. These are best learned through lots of listening — but be careful not to mimic, and try out many different, quality pop singers, preferably recorded before auto-tuning took over pop. Try early Mariah Carey, early Whitney Houston, early Sinead O’Connor, Boyz II Men, former musical theater singer Adam Lambert, folk singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin, and maybe the finest example of a non-classical voice, Eva Cassidy. Perhaps the clearest way to hear a truly non-computerized voice is live, indie concerts or open mics, or indie folk albums. By listening to non-classical music sung without tons of filtering and mastering, you’ll get a sense of what a pure voice sounds like in a pop context.

• Loosen up

I mean this literally and figuratively. Classical singing may require the most free and unencumbered musculature and mentality, but pop music by its very nature will ask you to tighten up. Contrary to popular perception, classical singers are the most open and tension-less, and often pop is the most controlled and constructed, so to speak. That means that you should be prepared by being extra stretched and loose. Pop singing also calls for a loose approach to what voice teachers and classically trained singers call “placement.” How your registers feel and sound will change as you transition to pop, so be open.

• Get quick

As a classical singer, you may or may not have specialized in singing especially fast musical passages sung on a single syllable, known as melismatic singing. And you could very well sing pop music without learning it. But with it, you can gain so much more versatility as an artist. Often in pop music, we hear it in what are called “runs,” most often in descending scales and usually at the end of a line or major section. The best place to learn melismatic singing for pop is the gospel world. Listen to Mahalia Jackson and Yolanda Adams to get a feel for it.

• Learn about belting and floating

In pop singing, we often have a choice between belting our high notes, and floating them in what I call “faux falsetto,” an intentionally weak sound. This latter option is probably not how you are used to approaching high notes as a classical singer. We may be taught to “float” as a means to let go of tension, but in pop singing, I have long suspected that this light, weak, and feathery sound is used either to establish a sense of vulnerability or to create a sense that the note is so utterly high that the listener should be impressed. Either way, it’s an essential stylistic tool. Belting is another element altogether. It’s really a way to sing and yell at the same time. In my professional opinion, it should only be put into your regular bag of singing tricks under the guidance of a teacher who specializes in musical theater or Broadway singing. The bottom line is that singers aren’t forced to choose one over the other all the time. Belting can be used during heavily emotional and empowered moments, while floating, or the faux falsetto, can be used during a tender and brokenhearted moment.

• Start practicing your English

Okay, so for most of you, English is your first language. But for many of us, English was not the only, or even primary, language that we studied in our voice literature. I think English is a wondrous and fun language, but it’s not exactly the most conducive to classical singing. It’s cumbersome, feeling almost chunky in the mouth. Italian, on the other hand, is rolling and fluid as it falls out. Singing pop music in English is all about being a little conversational and a lot more intimate sounding. Conversational diction — and not “Mary Poppins diction” — is a major part of what makes a pop singer sound like a genuine pop singer.

My final suggestion is to have a lot of fun. This transition from classical singing to pop singing may get frustrating at times, but just remember that you already are a singer. You’re not starting from scratch. You’re simply taking a slight bend in a long and winding road.

Continue learning: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Singing Styles and Genres!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Adam Haranghy