question about sight singing along with classical music

Posted by: dcb

question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/12/13 09:23 PM

When I'm learning a new piece with my teacher at a lesson, he often sight-sings through a piece or sings through a section to help me understand the dynamics and expression. I think it is a very useful skill and would love to be able to do it but am not blessed with any ability to sing. I think if I could sing the melody, I'd have a better shot at feeling the music and being more music when I try to play the piece.

I was experimenting a bit today and was pretty happy and surprised to find out that although my singing is really bad, it is not hopeless. I tried to sing along while playing a chromatic scale and sounding out an "e" sound.

I started at middle c and went up and checked my pitch with my ear and with a tuner I downloaded on my iphone. Had some interesting observations...

Started with middle c and was exactly an octave off...I would sing a C below middle C. I then tried to start at the C below middle C and could sing really pretty well for about an octave/ maybe 1.5 octaves.

So my conclusion was that my ear wasn't so bad but my range is just extremely limited and a little too low for the typical melodies played on the right hand with classical piano music.

What sort of advice can you give me for trying to expand my range to 2-3 octaves and be able to sing higher notes? Is this something I can do by just practicing or do you need vocal lessons? How do all the teachers and musicians seem so always have this ability? Would love to get your thoughts. I'm not having a lesson for another week so I won't be able to ask my teacher until then.

Thanks!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/12/13 09:53 PM

Expanding your range to 2-3 octaves isn't really feasible. I'm assuming your a man since you were singing the C below middle C (correct me if I'm wrong). Male voices vary in ranges, but generally they can sing comfortably from about G or A lower than the C below Middle C up to Middle C, possibly D or E above that depending on the particular voice type. Of course, this is very general and I'm referring to an untrained voice, singing full voice and not considering falsetto. With falsetto (men sometimes associate that with singing like a girl) they can go much higher, roughly to the C above middle C.

Seeing as how the voice is much more limited in range than the piano, you don't have to be able to sing the exact note that you are playing on the piano. For example, if you have a melody that is 3 octaves above Middle C, singing that would be pretty much impossible/painful/unneighborly. It's perfectly acceptable to sing melodies in a range that is comfortable for your voice, and you will get the benefit no matter which octave you choose (or even which key).
Posted by: dcb

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/12/13 10:01 PM

Correct, I am a man. Your post is interesting. So you are saying that basically if I'm hitting the right note, being an octave lower or even two octaves lower is just fine. The pitch won't match the piano but it will sound fine. I'm going to try that and see what happens. Thanks.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/13/13 08:29 AM

Originally Posted By: dcb
Correct, I am a man. Your post is interesting. So you are saying that basically if I'm hitting the right note, being an octave lower or even two octaves lower is just fine. The pitch won't match the piano but it will sound fine. I'm going to try that and see what happens. Thanks.


That is correct. It's more about how you sing it that helps with playing: being very expressive with dynamics and rubato, where you breathe, etc. These things you can then translate into your playing.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/14/13 02:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
[quote=dcb]It's more about how you sing it that helps with playing: being very expressive with dynamics and rubato, where you breathe, etc. These things you can then translate into your playing.


I agree. Singing helps shape the music, and forces us to pay attention to things we could otherwise ignore, such as breathing.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/14/13 02:07 AM

Originally Posted By: dcb
How do all the teachers and musicians seem so always have this ability?

For me singing was an important part of my early training in childhood. I was singing before I was playing any instrument. Historically I think this has been true for many musicians.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/14/13 03:47 AM

In France, all kids who study a musical instrument learn to sightsing from early on. It is considered fundamental to musical education, many teachers say that "one comes to music through the voice". The very idea of reading music is closely tied to sightsinging, moreso than relating the note on the staff to a key on the piano or the finger position on an instrument.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/14/13 04:20 AM

Originally Posted By: dcb
I tried to sing along while playing a chromatic scale and sounding out an "e" sound.


Quite difficult, so don't be discouraged.

If you do develop the habit of singing you will surely fall in love with your voice and it will completely transform your playing. So keep at it.
Posted by: UrLicht

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/17/13 02:49 PM

Originally Posted By: dcb
I agree. Singing helps shape the music, and forces us to pay attention to things we could otherwise ignore, such as breathing.


Breathing (and singing) is something I've only recently tried really hard to work on while playing. My college professor used to try to get me to vocalize while practicing and I can't believe that it has taken me 10 years to starting listening to her. It really does help to increase expressiveness where needed. Just don't go overboard and turn into Glenn Gould wink
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/22/13 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: dcb
Correct, I am a man. Your post is interesting. So you are saying that basically if I'm hitting the right note, being an octave lower or even two octaves lower is just fine. The pitch won't match the piano but it will sound fine. I'm going to try that and see what happens. Thanks.


That is correct. It's more about how you sing it that helps with playing: being very expressive with dynamics and rubato, where you breathe, etc. These things you can then translate into your playing.


It's not actually feasible to increase your vocal range, but you can strengthen what you already have. It's alright to sing octaves lower as long as you have the correct tones.
Posted by: LoPresti

question about sight singing along with classical music - 01/22/13 08:09 PM

UrLicht,

I have responded to your PM. Let me know! Thanks,
Ed