« How to Practice Singing, Part 3: Chunk it Up | Main | Vocal Technique, Vocal Styles »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Very interesting topic, Claudia!

On a side note, I disagree with you about sight-reading. I think honing those skills allows your brain to soak up rhythms, tempi, melodies and harmonies more efficiently - like a 'musician' and not a 'singer' - so that you can quickly move on to the next steps of learning repertoire.

I failed to thoroughly learn the first piece of the opera I'm in now, and during stage rehearsals, we just mowed over it without really picking it apart. The result was a well-rehearsed poorly sung duet, which lines up my voice incorrectly for the rest of the evening. I spend most of my time thinking about breathing and technique, trying to save my voice instead of enjoying my show. It's a rough night. I hope to use the next three days off to re-examine that opening piece so I can get it in my voice, in hopes of making the rest of the show run like a well-oiled machine!

Hmmmm... that might be my next blog article: Rehearsing insecurities.
Cheers, cg

Claudia Friedlander

Hi Christine,

I knew that my condemnation of sight-singing would raise some controversy! Your point is spot on.

It's easy for me to complain - I was a clarinetist for many years before I took up singing, and so I developed essential music-reading skills without the need for a sight-singing class. I don't know what it's like to not have an instrumental background.

We all do need the means to soak up and internalize all that musical notation swiftly.

However, I know so many voice students, undergraduate and graduate alike, who are required to attend sight-singing classes that leave their voices completely tied up in knots because they do not have a secure enough technique for it to be otherwise. Best case scenario is that they're just toast for the rest of the day and can start over again in the morning. Worst case scenario is that they have to go from their sight-singing class immediately to perform on a master class, rehearse an opera role, or even sing an audition in that state. They do poorly, suffer the consequences, and then think there's something wrong with them for not being able to get through the class without the negative impact.

I sincerely doubt my own ability to get through a sight-singing class unscathed. It's hard!

So I just wish there were another way for singers to acquire these skills without this kind of suffering.

Choral singers certainly need strong sight-singing skills, and when you first begin your training there is no way to know how important a role choral singing is going to play in your life.

But this raises other issues. Being required to sing in choral ensembles is also very problematic for many solo singers trying to build a strong technical foundation. The requirement to sing in tune, sometimes softly, sometimes with a straight tone, sometimes in a range you would not normally be singing in, can be really detrimental.

Are we requiring undergraduates to sing in chorus for their own good, or so that there will be a chorus?

Some of the very finest Young Artist Programs require participants to serve as opera choristers while providing invaluable training and career development resources. This isn't going to change. We need to be able to sight-read and sing in choruses from time to time.

I can see no solution to either the sight-singing or choral participation requirements of formal music education, but I wish everyone - music departments, voice teachers, and singers - could be more mindful of the potential problems involved.

Have fun polishing up your duet & hope it's smooth sailing on the next run!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Ask the Liberated Voice

  • Questions about vocal technique, fitness or career development? Submit them here.

  • Should be Empty: