simple songs for a soprano
May 13, 2011 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I need simple songs for a beginning soprano singing student.

I have started taking private voice lessons and I need to choose a song to work on. I am a total beginner and have trouble hearing when I'm off and hitting the note right the first time (I tend to land wherever and then correct), so I'm looking for something really, really basic.

I would like to learn Kim Richey's A Place Called Home, but I can't find sheet music for it. I asked my instructor about singing Paul Simon songs and she said his lyrics tend to be too complicated and so they aren't great songs for beginners - but maybe something like Bridge Over Trouble Waters would work.

I'm not opposed to show tunes, but I was thinking more along the lines of folk, singer-songwriter, indie rock, mild country.

Would any of Adele's songs be appropriate for me? Or is her voice to low?

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
posted by valeries to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So you're not training classically?

Honestly, if you're a beginning soprano, I'd make it easy on yourself and pick something by Mama Cass Eliott. Hers is a clear soprano with good control, and will help you develop good habits if you're inclined to sing along with her recordings. How about "Dream a Little Dream of Me"?
posted by LN at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2011

(I should note, Cass "cheats" in her recording of DALDOM, by modulating the bridge of the song into a lower key. In the original 1930s version, it goes up the octave. So watch out if you go buying sheet music for that song!)
posted by LN at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: I'm a classically trained singer and adore Joan Frey Botim's First Book of ... Solos series. There is a wide range of songs in each book, in various languages usually with an English translation where the original language is not English, for singers of widely different abilities and ranges.

Alfred's Folk Songs for Solo Singers or John Jacob Niles would have a good collection of folk songs suitable for a beginner.
posted by thatdawnperson at 12:54 PM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: Every classical singer starts out with 28 Italian Songs and Arias of the 17th and 18th Centuries published by Schirmer. Everyone sings them, everyone knows them, and they're all beautiful. Also, since it's PD and was engraved many years ago, it sells for just $13.49.
posted by KRS at 1:06 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now"? Depending on your range, you may have to move it to a higher key than she usually sings it (hopefully your teacher would be able to do that, assuming that she's accompanying you on piano), but that's a pretty simple song, musically.

I don't think Adele would be a good start for you. She's got a pretty hefty mezzo voice, though "To Make You Feel My Love" (her Bob Dylan cover) could be okay. Again that should probably be in a higher key, like Kelly Clarkson's version of it.
posted by wondermouse at 6:49 PM on May 13, 2011

I second the book KRS mentioned. If you want to know where to start, you could do worse than "Caro Mio Ben".
posted by wittgenstein at 7:45 PM on May 13, 2011

Thirding the book mentioned by KRS - that's what I started with as well when I was a beginning soprano student. "Caro mio ben" is indeed a good start; other songs from that book I recall singing pretty much at the very beginning are "Amarilli, mia bella", "Nel cor piu' non mi sento" and "Sento nel core".

Granted, those are very, very classical, so if you're looking for something more modern you should probably look elsewhere - but they're incredibly basic and an excellent way to start figuring out how to hit notes right.
posted by sailoreagle at 8:14 PM on May 13, 2011

I'll add that I was a soprano voice major, and when I started voice lessons in high school I started with the Italian Songs and Arias book also. Even if your goal is not to be a classical singer and just to be able to sing better on your own, those pieces are good for learning proper breath control and support, and they don't have all the added frills and quirks modern pop/folk usually has that might distract you from really learning good technique, especially with the pitch problem you mentioned.

Since you're a very beginner, I'd probably recommend the Medium High book to you. It goes neither very high nor very low. "Caro Mio Ben" is definitely the most musically simple song in the book. It even comes with a CD.
posted by wondermouse at 8:37 PM on May 13, 2011

Soprano here and oh man, I loved those Italian Songs. Now that they've been mentioned here I think I'll dig them out and run through a few of my favorites.

Never been a particularly flirty person, but "Sei tu m'ami" reliably flips on my shameless coquette switch.
posted by tangerine at 9:34 PM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, that was not what I was looking for at all, classical instead of modern, I mean, but I totally trust you guys, so I've ordered 28 Italian Songs and Arias of the 17th and 18th Centuries. I will keep Mama Cass and Joni Mitchell in mind for the future.

Thanks so much, all!
posted by valeries at 7:23 AM on May 16, 2011

Response by poster: As a follow-up, the 28 Italian Songs and Arias of the 17th and 18th Centuries book is much too advanced for me, so we're starting with My Favorite Things. I will progress to the Italian songs eventually though, so it's good to have.

Thanks again for all of your input.
posted by valeries at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2011

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