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  • Maire Clement

Transcending Genre: Let's sing it all!


Good morning.

It's a sunny and very cold day in Lakeville, Minnesota. I'm lucky that today is my day off, so I can cozy in and admire the sunshine in our warm home.

If you have read my previous blog posts, you know that I am a classically trained singer who now sings anything and everything. I have realized that good music is good music. I remember in high school when I was looking at conservatories for college, I received the advice "If you learn to sing classically, you can sing anything!" Having mastery over the voice truly allows the options of what to sing to be nearly limitless. Of course, finding the right key, and making sure that what I'm singing resonates with my soul makes a big difference.

When I was studying opera/classical singing full-time, I remember trying desperately to enjoy listening to classical music. I would collect classical CDs, upload them to my iTunes and wait for the moment where I would truly choose classical music for my fun-listening time. But--somehow I always found myself listening to songwriters, indie, folk, bluegrass. Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O'Donovan...The funny thing is, now that I am a full-time singer-songwriter in the duo The Boston Imposters--I find myself listening to classical music for fun. In the car, I switch from 99.5 Classical MPR, to 89.3 The Current, to KDWB, the top 40 station, to KFAI, the community radio station...I realized that a good song is a good song. My mom took me to see The Barber of Seville at The Minnesota Opera yesterday and it was incredible. I was jamming along to Una Voce Poco Fa when I got home.

Some people believe that their voice only works in certain genres...I personally don't subscribe to this way of thinking. SURE--if I sing a bluegrass song in the same way I'd sing an opera aria, people would look at me funny. Which brings me to my next point...singing in different genres--how do we do it?

I was reminiscing about my time as a T.A. at University of Louisville recently, realizing how much it informed who I am today. I was there studying classical singing, but was teaching a class to music therapy majors on how to sing in different genres and really honor each genre. There are tangible differences in styles--the vowels (and consonants) are different, the vocal timbre, the vocal registers, vibrato, etc. During the first class of the semester I brought in examples from different genres (an opera aria, bluegrass, musical theatre, pop music, rock and roll, etc.) and asked the students to note what differences they heard. Once we broke it down into the categories I listed above, we realized how doable those difference are.

What genres of music do you find yourself singing in the shower? Or jamming out to in the car? Voice lessons don't have to be a time to sing something classical. Sing what you love. I can help with the rest. The technique that I have learned through my time in school, and through becoming a certified Transformational Voice Teacher® transcends genre. YES! Everyone can sing, so let's set our voices free on whatever song you love today.


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© Maire Clement 2019

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