User-Friendly Voice Lessons
When I studied piano as a child, I found that I mostly practiced the music I liked — and the music I didn't like just languished in my satchel. Beginning music students must be engaged by the sound of the music they are producing, or they will soon be bored, frustrated, and reluctant to continue.
But voice lessons are notably different than instrumental music lessons. Learning to play an instrument is, at first, much more of a technique-driven activity. It isn't until an instrumentalist is well-schooled in technique that emotion or "feeling" enters into the musician's approach.
Singing, by definition, is a singularly emotion-driven act of music making. Lyrics, often poems in themselves, are almost always derivative of noteworthy human experiences or desires. Nobody sings about grocery shopping, or scraping paint, or doing taxes. The melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo and dynamics of sung music must reflect the emotional aspect of the lyric. A singer must be "engaged" in the words and music he or she is singing, and engagement happens only when the singer is sincerely connected to the lyrical and musical content of the song.
In other words, it's even more important that every student of singing enjoy the music he or she is studying. I do not force my students to sing one kind of music. My studio is "user-friendly." In other words, I let my students choose the music they want to sing, which allows them to learn successfully and progress quickly because they are singing music they like.
But I give your fair warning: if a student of mine shows an interest in or possesses a voice peculiarly suited to a musical genre unfamiliar to him or her, I will gently press the student to broaden his or her repertoire to include this genre. I am nearly always successful in the expansion of musical knowledge in this way, because (let's face it) when you find a kind of music you're good at singing, you want to sing it!
Finding the Right Music
While I encourage my students eventually to purchase their own music, they can borrow my music until they "get their bearings," or discover what kind of music they prefer. I own a collection of vocal music that is the envy of many of the people I've known and worked with. I'm often tapped by the frustrated colleague seeking a hard-to-find piece, or even more often, that hard-to-find piece in the right key! Here below is an incomplete list of the music I own.
Classical Music for Solo Singers
Schirmer's 24 Italian Songs and Arias from the 17th & 18th Centuries
Medium Low Range and Medium High Range
Schirmer's Operatic Anthology
G. Schirmer Opera Arias
Anthology of Sacred Song
Treasury of Grand Opera
Joan Frey Boytim Editions
Soprano, Vols. I, II
Mezzo/Alto Vols. I, II
Baritone, Vol. II
Mabelle Glenn Editions
Classic Italian Songs in Three Volumes, Vols. I, II, III
Art Songs in English
Elizabethan Love Songs, First Set
Individual Volumes of Collected Arias/Songs/Lieder
Bach Fauré Ned Rorem Samuel Barber Granados Satie Brahms Handel Schubert Chabrier Richard Hundley Schumann Aaron Copland Massenet Strauss Debussy Mozart Wolf
Classical Music for Large Chorus (with or without Soloists)
Bach Magnificat Marcello Salmo X Bach Mass in B Minor Mendelssohn Elijah Berger Brazilian Psalm Mozart Litaniae Lauretanae Bloch Sacred Service Mozart Requiem Borodin Polovetzian Dance Ramirez Missa Criolla Brahms Requiem Schubert Mass in Eb Debussy Trois Chansons Schubert Mass in G Duruflé Requiem Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms Fauré Requiem Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem Gounod Mass Solennelle Verdi Requiem Gretchaninov Missa festiva Weill Down in the Valley Handel Messiah
PLUS: Several anthologies for small choir/madrigal groups, 16th-21st Centuries.
Art Folk Songs
100 English Folksongs
Jay Althouse Editions
Vol. I, High Voice, Low Voice
Vol. II, High Voice, Low Voice
Mark Hayes Edition, Medium Low Voice
PLUS: Various other studio collections and anthologies. Dozens of individual classical pieces, sorted alphabetically in 3-ring binders.
The Singer's Musical Theater Anthology (Hal Leonard)
Soprano, Vols. I and II
Mezzo-Soprano/Alto, Vol. I
Mezzo-Soprano/Belter, Vols. II and III
Tenor, Vols. I and II
Baritone/Bass, Vols. I and II
The Actor's Songbook
The Teen's Musical Theater Collection, Young Women's Edition
The Definitive Broadway Collection
Various Collections by Composer/Artist
George Gershwin Jerome Kern Judy Garland Frank Loesser Cole Porter Barbara Streisand Thomas "Fats" Waller Walt Disney Studios Sara Bareilles Nora Hones James Taylor Joni Mitchell Whitney Houston Diana Krall Ray Charles Randy Newman Paul Simon Jackson Browne Patsy Cline Andrea Bocelli Josh Groban Billy Joel Joan Baez John Bocchino Frank Sinatra Goldrich & Heisler Carole King Stephan Schwartz Stevie Wonder Kander and Ebb Rodgers & Hart
Ain't Misbehavin' Amahl and the Night Visitors American Idiot Annie Get Your Gun Anything Goes (Original 1928 version and Beaumont revival scores) Assassins The Book of Mormon The Boyfriend Cabaret A Chorus Line Evita Fantasticks Falsettos Fiddler on the Roof Finian's Rainbow A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Hello, Dolly! H.M.S.Pinafore I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change The Inside Story Jesus Christ Superstar Kiss Me, Kate Legally Blonde Love Story Mame Mary Poppins Next To Normal No Strings Once Upon a Mattress Paint Your Wagon The Producers 1776 She Loves Me The Sound of Music Sweeney Todd The Threepenny Opera West Side Story White Christmas Working
Sixty "Vocal Selection" Books, dozens of well-known shows, plus these rarities:
The Apple Tree The Singing Nun Applause Snow White (Disney Movie) I'm Getting My Act Together ... Sophisticated Ladies The Most Happy Fella They're Playing Our Song Roar of the Grease Paint ... Two Gentlemen of Verona Passion Woman of the Year
PLUS: Literally hundreds of individual show tunes (dozens of which I have transposed to new keys for my students) which are stored, in alphabetical order, in 3-inch binders. Gems by Noël Coward, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Lerner and Loewe, Stephen Schwartz, Stoller and Leiber, Harry Warren, Maury Yeston, Ahrens and Flaherty, Ashman and Menken, Richard and Robert Sherman, Comden and Green.
Popular, Standards, Jazz
The Ultimate Standards Book
100 Best Songs of the Twenties and Thirties
The Bessie Smith Songbook
Leeds' 40 Hits of Our Times (Pub. 1952)
Remick Hits Through the Years (Pub. 1951)
Torch Songs (Hal Leonard)
The Definitive Jazz Collection
The Great American Songbook
The Hal Leonard Family Song Album
Reader's Digest Family Song Book
Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs
The Disney Collection
The Disney Illustrated Treasury of Songs
Collections of Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, Cat Stevens, others
Multiple pop song collections and "fake" books
(see "Oddities," below)
PLUS: A veritable trove of vintage sheet music originals, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s, all inherited from my mother. Too many to count. Sample titles:
"Boo-Hoo" "The New Girl in Our Alley" "But Beautiful" "No Love, No Nothin'" Frank Loesser's "Rosalie" "Can't Get Out of This Mood" "Swingin' On A Star" "Chickery Chick" "That's What Makes Paris Paree" "G.I. Jive" "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" "Harbor Lights" "When I Grow Up" "I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City" "Why Don't You Practice What You Preach?" "It Can't Be Wrong" "You've Changed"
The Deep River Collection (Gospel)
Sister Act II Vocal Selections (Gospel)
Dearly Beloved (Wedding)
A Time for Joy (Wedding)
Christmas sheet music collection has it's own special box. I own dozens of vintage solos and modern standards, as well as anthologies of carols and choral arrangements in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Scandinavian languages. Plus, I have single copies of all of the Christmas and holiday choral works I have conducted over the years.
The Clancy Brothers Irish Songbook — many in Gaelic, with phonetic transliteration
Irish Ballads Songs and Ballads of Ireland The World's Most Famous Jewish Song Hits — all lyrics in Hebrew or Yiddish
The Vaudeville Songbook
Gospel Harmonies No. 2 — Old Timey Christian Hymns, very fresh and fun!
Prohibition Songs — from 1903, when people thought they could wipe out saloons!
The Parlour Songbook "A Casquet of Vocal Gems" — a great Victorian-era anthology
The Tom Lehrer "That Was the Week the Was" Songbook — still applicable today
Monty Python's "All the Words" — from every TV episode and movie
The British Musical Hall Songbook