|Have you ever heard one of these? There’s a lot of misconceptions about singing out there, particularly in how a singer “should” be trained. If you want a clue about the difference between classical and contemporary singing, look for my resource at the end of this post.|
But first, have you ever heard (or believed!) one of these myths?
1. “If you’re classically trained, you can sing anything!”
That’s like saying if you studied the violin, you can play any stringed instrument. Not true! You might have a general understanding of how other stringed instruments work, but you’re going to have to learn the technique and styles that work for other instruments just like everyone else.
“Classical training” is now a very vague, watered down term in the singing world. So whatever style you want to pursue, make sure you find a teacher who can help you accomplish very concrete technical goals like finding chest and head voice, navigating through your registers with a smooth, even tone, and eliminating breathiness or strain. Whether they call themselves a “classically trained” teacher means very little 🤷♀️
2. “Whatever genre of music you want to pursue, a music degree with a classical teacher will prepare you for it.”
Again, that’s like saying that if you want to be an animator for Disney, you should get trained in Renaissance painting techniques. Sure, there are artistic principles that may apply to both mediums but it is not going to directly train you to do the thing you want!
To be frank, I’ve heard from many singers who studied classically in college with hopes to pursue a singer/songwriter or musical theatre path afterward… only to realize that their undergrad taught them to sing classical music, classically, with little exploration elsewhere.
If a career in opera or classical music is not for you, there’s no need to go that route. But if opera is your dream- then a music degree studying classical music is the perfect path- go for it!!
3. Classical singing is boring.
What? What performances have you been listening to?! Have you heard Pavarotti wail on a high B in “Nessun Dorma”? Have you delighted in the insane agility and range that is the Doll’s Aria?
Classical singing is thrilling, difficult, and when done well- spine tingling-ly good! Mad props to the singers who train years (decades) to sing this material.
So what’s the big difference between classical and contemporary singing? My friend and colleague Annie Little breaks it all down here.