Below the staff is my happy place
August 8, 2012 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Alto vocal coaches in the Boston area?

I'm an amateur choral singer trying to get a better handle on what kind of voice I have or should aspire to. My full range when I'm singing actively is from about a D3 (D below middle C) to a shaky A5.

My training has all been in choirs (classical/renaissance repertoire, plus modern composers like Lauridsen, mostly not jazz/show choirs), and I'm basically aware of two registers in my singing voice, chest and head. My chest and head voices sound noticeably different from each other. I can sing down (weakly) to about an E4 in my head voice, and up to a Bb4 in chest, so I do have some overlap/blending ability. It feels most natural to switch from one register to the other at about an A4. In choirs, I sing alto, unless I sing tenor parts to fill things out. Unless I sing second soprano in an emergency.

I took voice lessons briefly in high school, and the focus was entirely on expanding my upper range. I like my low notes, especially for Sacred Harp and other folk traditions, and I haven't smoked or used a ton of vocal fry or done anything in particular (other than sing low notes) to 'mess up' my voice. On the one hand, most of what I can find online suggests that there are many fewer 'true altos' than people who just haven't learned to use their upper ranges. On the other, I can definitely hit lower notes than any of the other women in my current choir.

I'd love to take a few lessons with someone who can help me figure out if I'm an honest-to-goodness contralto and help me develop the range & timbre that I personally should be aiming for. But there is not a single alto listed on these two vocal coach directories, and I'm having no luck googling for alto vocal coaches. I'm perfectly happy taking lessons from a soprano or a male singer, but I don't want to work with a teacher who's going to assume that I'm a frustrated soprano. If anything, it might be most helpful to my singing 'career' to develop a better timbre for blending with male tenors. Who knows!

So - any recommendations for vocal coaches in the Boston area? Bonus question - do you have a range similar to mine? How do you classify yourself, and how do you approach your singing development?
posted by heyforfour to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My Metropolitan Opera Regional Finalist friend said that, in the first place, you're looking for the wrong thing.

A vocal coach helps with music.

A voice teacher helps with the voice.

You want help with your voice.

You want to find a voice teacher or to look for "singing lessons" rather than looking for vocal coaches who help you with particular pieces of music.
posted by zizzle at 8:48 AM on August 8, 2012

Someone in the voice department at Berklee might be able to help or have suggestions.
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on August 8, 2012

I will ask a contralto friend who performs (professionally) a lot locally in oratorios, etc., and drop you a MeMail when she gets back to me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:56 AM on August 8, 2012

Berklee probably isn't the best place to find a vocal coach or teacher for the classical tradition. The New England Conservatory and Boston Conservatory of Music are better choices for that tradition.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:57 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I attended NEC for a couple years. Many teachers there also take private students. They are expensive (could be upwards of $200/hr), so that might not work for you. But they may also be able to connect you with a doctoral student or someone else in the opera community who would be a good fit. I would start there. Boston Conservatory and Boston University also both have great vocal performance programs.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:14 AM on August 8, 2012

« Older Business card help   |   Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.