What is a good foreign language song for 13 year old girl to sing?
August 28, 2017 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Hello, My teen has sang recitals for years and has a pretty good range. She has sang German and Italian songs before. What foreign language song do you think is challenging enough for a 13 year old but not over the top hard? We have already done Caro Mio Ben and I forgot the German song. Thanks.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Latin is similar to German in Italian this way (lots of Masses to choose from). For a real challenge, try Russian.
posted by Melismata at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2017

Why not try some challenging English songs? Then her hearers can enjoy the words even if they don't know another language, and, if she studies singing more formally later, she won't have to "un-learn" pronunciations that don't completely match the way the language is sung.

I'd recommend listening to a bunch of recordings of Benjamin Britten or Ned Rorem songs. These are both great composers with a wide following, although they are very different from each other.
posted by amtho at 8:12 AM on August 28, 2017


Her vocal coach has everyone do a foreign language song at the winter recital, and then in the Spring, my daughter can pick any song she wants to sing for that 2nd recital.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh at 8:17 AM on August 28, 2017

Has she done other songs from the 26 Italian Songs and Arias? I did Tu Lo Sai as my next one after Caro Mio Ben. I remember also liking Pur Dicesti O Bocca Bella - fun runs but not super hard.
posted by machine at 8:21 AM on August 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh! And for German she should listen to Shubert lieder to see if there is something that she likes. Die Forelle maybe? I will look at my books when I get home and see if there's something else fun. I always loved singing in German. :)
posted by machine at 8:29 AM on August 28, 2017

I think I started on Star Vicino at about 13 or 14.
posted by functionequalsform at 8:47 AM on August 28, 2017

Also, Ce Moys de May.
posted by functionequalsform at 8:54 AM on August 28, 2017

Hi - former teen-aged voice student here, who majored in it and still sings. For Italian, I'd suggest:

Danza, danza fancuilla gentile (also in the 26 songs)
Ombra mai fu (by Handel)
Lascia ch'io pianga (also by Handel)

For German, I'd suggest the following Schubert Leider:

Lachen und Weinen
Seligkeit (if she has the G above the staff)

Brahms also has a nice arrangement of Standchen. Sonntag is nice. So is Lerchengesang, but that might be too hard for her at this point.

Latin - Pie Jesu from the Faure Requiem.

Hope this helps!
posted by dancing_angel at 8:55 AM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

The ABRSM has a complete syllabus of recommended songs from grades 1-8. About 100 songs per grade, in a variety of languages. Sources for sheet music are provided.

The grade 4 list is probably a good place to start -- can go up or down if the difficulty isn't right for her.


Handel -- Non lo dirò col labbro
Brahms -- Es steht ein' Lind'
Schubert -- An Die Laute
posted by rollick at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have a recommendation for a language, but here's an idea for finding a song.

Pink Martini is a Portland, Oregon based group. They sing songs in many, many languages. You can find them on iTunes and listen to their albums, and see which songs your daughter enjoys. Some albums are more heavily foreign-language than others.

Sympathique (French) is beautiful. My other favorite is Una Nota a Napoli (Italian).

Other contenders: Hayaldah Hachi Yafah Bagan (Hebrew); Kuroneko No Tango (Japanese); Die Dorfmusik (German).
posted by hydra77 at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thank you.

I'll look these songs up. This may seem strange, but are there any Irish songs that would be fun for a 13 year old to sing?
posted by lynnie-the-pooh at 8:59 AM on August 28, 2017

Seconding the Schubert rec, especially "Heidenroeslein," maybe "An Sylvia" also, oh or "Die Forelle." Some Schubert is quite hard but these aren't. I have sung them myself and I am awful!

"Apres un reve" is a French art song non-advanced singers do. French vowels aren't as easy to sing on.
posted by Smearcase at 9:17 AM on August 28, 2017

Might be better for a choir than solo, but Baba Yetu - it's a Swahili version of the Lord's Prayer.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2017

Aprés un rêve is very challenging and takes a lot of breath support-- probably more than a 13-year-old has. A good starter-level Fauré song is Rêve d'amour; it's charming and I still sing it. The original key has one high F, but otherwise stays within the staff.

Reynaldo Hahn is kind to a younger voice; his Quand je fus pris au pavilion is short and fun, with some syncopated rhythms that are fun to learn and make the whole song bounce.

Cecile Chaminade is also a good French composer for a younger voice to explore. Try si j'étais jardinier.

If she'd like to sing opera, the easiest French aria is "Si le bonheur à sourire t'invite", Siebel's aria from Act IV of Faust. It's short, sweet, stays within the staff and has 2 verses. (Note: not Faîtes-lui mes aveux, which everyone does. That's too much for a 13 year old.)

And you can't go wrong with La vie en rose.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:36 PM on August 28, 2017

German: Marienwürmchen (Ladybug) by Schumann is nice. Brahms's Sonntag (lyrical and pretty) and Vergebliches Ständchen (romantic comedy where the singer plays both a boy and a girl; the girl wins) are both suitable for young singers.

I like Schubert's Heidenröslein and Die Forelle, but they're both... kind of sexist? The rose and the trout both symbolise women, and awful things happen to them.

Other good starter-level Schubert:
An die Musik, about how great music is
Litanei, calm and tranquil, peace to departed souls
das Fischermädchen, "Hey pretty fisher-lady! Row your boat my way!"
Lachen und Weinen, laughter and tears
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:04 PM on August 28, 2017

Sheet music for all of these ought to be on IMSLP in a variety of keys. Translations will be on LiederNet. Sorry for multiple posts!
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2017

I'm not sure of the requirements of the recital but there are some older Korean songs that might be a nice change of pace. They don't have the slick production of modern kpop so you can really focus on the singing.
Lee Sora "To You that Don't Love Me"
and she's currently on a Korean variety show called Begin Again so you can hear how the song can still totally work stripped down of the instrumentation.

IU feat Kim ChangWon "The Meaning of You"
posted by FakePalindrome at 4:59 PM on August 28, 2017

lynnie-the-pooh: "I'll look these songs up. This may seem strange, but are there any Irish songs that would be fun for a 13 year old to sing?"

Pretty much the canonical "Irish song for singers to show off their voices with" is Mo Ghile Mear. Mary Black's version is the one I think of first when I think of it.
posted by capricorn at 4:59 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I will throw a curveball out there - what about a Hindi/Bollywood song? There's a HUGE selection to choose from, and all of them have very fun movies that would expose her to a different culture.

While the letters may look strange, it's very phonetic, and there's english phonetic spellings of all the songs!

Here's a youtube playlist of various vocalists singing some popular Hindi songs:

posted by unexpected at 10:12 PM on August 28, 2017


An Cailin Rua
Cad e sin don te sin

posted by eleanna at 1:05 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

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