It’s a very common question: “Do you have a classical training background?” To which I usually reply, “Yes, of course!” After all, I am by specialty a classical singer, so I was classically trained. But what does it really mean to be classically trained?
In singing, if you say you were classically trained, you are only telling part of the story. Classical music is a style, and singing classical or operatic repertoire requires a certain aesthetic (not to mention resonance and power.) It also requires flawless technique. And technique, well, that is not classical, per se. Technique is function.
In my most effective past training as a singer, I was functionally trained. That means, I learned what my voice was doing and how I could use it, rather than just how it sounded. I learned specific vocal exercises which served to strengthen and build my voice. I learned how to access my different registers (head voice, chest voice, mix), and how to develop each and when to use them. I built up my singing muscles, such as my larynx and abdominal muscles, in order to better control my voice. I learned specifically how to crescendo, decrescendo, float a high note, belt, croon, control my vibrato, talk-sing… you name it, all in a free and healthy way. Yes, the majority of the music I sing and perform is classical and operatic, and I can hold my own with an orchestra, but I can also sing many styles of music. And the technique does not drastically waver between the styles.
Not all opera singers can sing music theatre. Not all pop singers can sing operetta. But some can! Some can switch it up regularly. How? They have really good technique, a strong sense of style, and- let’s face it – a little bit of extra spark. But technique can be learned, and style can be learned, too. It’s not rocket science, really. It’s Art, and art requires tools.
So, yes, I was classically trained. I know a lot of classical repertoire. But I was also functionally trained, so I know how the voice works. I also have learned how to teach it, and I love teaching it, because now, I know I can save others a lot of time by giving them the right information from the get-go!
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