Archive | June 2012

An open letter from Joyce DiDonato

Impassioned and earnest words here for young artists from Joyce DiDonato….

Another exercise

I wrote this one in March for one of my freshmen to help with his range and aggiustamento.

Vocalizing books

A brief list of vocal methods & etude books

Dr. Jeffrey Carter

©  2012

Abt, Franz.  Practical Singing Tutor for all voices, Op. 474.  $19.95 #HL 50255050 ISBN: 9780634053245.   Useful for helping with trills, arpeggiation, and coloratura.  But I think that other methods are better for this, such as the Lütgen.

Behnke, E. & Pearce, C.  Thirty Voice-Training Exercises. Originally published by G. Schirmer, now in a Kalmus imprint.  Divided into four sections: lower thin register, lower thin and upper thin registers, whole compass of the voice, and embellishments. also has several used volumes available.  Really useful in that each exercise can be repeated with increasing difficulty and complexity.

Concone, J.  Fifty Lessons, Op. 9.  $9.99 (US) Inventory #HL 50253720 ISBN: 9780793553440.  A standard.  From the famous 19th-century Italian master, this is only one set of etudes and exercises available in HL or Kalmus editions.  Much of this set is based on scale passages, arpeggios, and harmonic leaps.   Some Concone is available at    Bookfinder also has a fairly complete listing of available published works at

Dannhäuser, A.  Solfège des Solfèges.  Hal Leonard $6.99  #HL 50258490 ISBN: 9780793553266.  Also books 2 and 3 available.  All books in only one voicing  Starts with sustained whole notes by step, then increases to skips, then adds rhythm.  Book One is a basic primer in singing mostly step-wise motion with some accidentals and no more than one division of the basic beat unit.  Further books more advanced.

Jennings, K.  Sing Legato.  Neil A. Kjos V74.  $6.95.  Notable for its inclusion of interval songs, emphasizing interval recognition aurally and visually.  Very useful.  Get the accompanist edition for use at the piano.

From the composer: “This brief set of vocal studies is designed for the individual voice student and for use in voice classes and choral groups.  The opening vocalises focus on basic kinds of musical articulations: legato, staccato, and marcato.”

Lütgen, B.  Vocalises (Twenty Daily Exercises), Book I.  $5.99 #HL 50255910 ISBN: 9780634069512.  Available in High, Medium, and Low voicing.  This set of exercises comes the closest to the vocalises (as opposed to etudes) of any of the books in this brief listing.  I use this book regularly to teach legato, rapid movement between two pitches, roulades, and aggiustamento.  Flexibility of embellishments and coloratura seems to be the focus of this little book.

Marchesi, M.  Vocal Method, Op. 31.  $15.95 (US) Inventory #HL 50260850 ISBN: 9781423438731.  A complete vocal method in its own single book, this volume includes Part I: Elementary and Progressive Exercises, and Part II: Development of the Exercises in the Form of Vocalises.  Much more Marchesi is available from Hal Leonard.  See also her Bel Canto: A Theoretical and Practical Method in the Dover imprint, and her series of vocalizes also published by Hal Leonard and Kalmus.  Marchesi is best remembered for a surprising number of very famous students, and for carrying the bel canto tradition into the 20th century.

Panofka, H. Twenty-four Progressive Vocalises, Op. 85.  $4.95 #HL 50255620.  With the compass of one octave and half, the score indicates “for all voices except bass.”  Much of this is stepwise.  Also available for FREE at

Panofka also has an Op. 81 The Art of Singing available through Hal Leonard and other publishers, containing 24 exercises.  Again, this is mostly scale-wise with minimal leaps within the harmony.

Sieber, F.  Thirty-six Eight-Measure Vocalises, Op. 92.  $4.99  #HL 50252790 ISBN: 9780793588268.  Also Op. 93-97, each for successively lower voice type.  Each book with different exercises.  Also available in Kalmus edition at $7.99.  Melodious and tuneful short exercises that challenge and stretch the singers in an Old Master sort of way.  Dated, but lovely still.

Tosti, F.  50 Petits Solfèges.  $31.95 (US) Inventory #HL 50486303.  I love this book, mostly because the melodies are truly beautiful in that ineffably Tosti way.

From Hal Leonard: “Texts in Italian and English. This collection of a part of Tosti’s solfeggi should be doubly welcome to modern musicians. From the didactic point of view it could significantly expand the horizons of singing practice, and at the same time this same material should make a valuable contribution to the study of Tosti’s complex artistic personality. 2 CDs of piano accompaniments are included.”

Vaccai, N.  Practical Method.  $5.99 #HL 50262800 ISBN: 9780793553181.  A standard.  Now available only in high and medium voicings.  Further voicings available in foreign imprints at much higher cost.

From Amazon: “This small booklet is small in size only.  A beloved textbook, it should be the basis for anyone wishing to train as a singer.  The short, apparently simple arias, are the masterpiece of a genius didactitian: every note, every interval, every syllable of the text is perfect and perfectly suited to educate the inexperienced singer. Those who despise the text as too simple should be ashamed of their musical skills: there is nothing simple here. The arias can be sung by beginners but to sing them properly you have to be a perfectly accomplished artist.”


Examples of half-step ascending modulations

I firmly and strongly believe that modulations in vocalizing should be by common tone.  Here’s how:

Vowel modification

I made this one up on the spot the other day with E, a high school soprano.  We were working on vowel modification, and these leaps and steps seemed to help make things happen.

Quartal leaps

I heard this exercise the other day, and realized how good it is in teaching quartal leaps, and in helping singers lock in on tendency tones (scale degrees 4 and 7) and the mediant and sub-mediant that are often out of tune.