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Different Voice Types

Different Voice Types

While every voice is unique, there are some basic ways of categorizing voices. Voice type largely has to do with how high or low a person can sing. The six main voice types are soprano, mezzo, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass although there are many smaller subsets within those main categories. Soprano, mezzo, and contralto are women’s voice types. Sopranos can sing higher than mezzos, who can sing higher than contraltos, although their ranges do overlap significantly. Some famous sopranos you may be familiar with are Mariah Carey, Lea Michele, and Dolly Parton. Famous mezzos include Beyoncé, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin. Well-known contraltos include Adele, Alicia Keys, and Carly Simon.
Tenor, baritone, and bass are men’s voice types with tenors being the highest, baritones falling in the middle, and basses singing the lowest. Some famous tenors in non-classical music include Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Phil Collins. Baritones in popular culture include John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and David Bowie. Bass voices are not typically found in non-classical music.
Classical musicians use many other words to describe their individual voices based not just on how high or low they can sing, but also on the timbre of their voice and its flexibility. Commonly referred to as the fach system, these categorizations help classical singers determine what roles they should sing in operas and other classical works. This guide shows all the operatic fachs and gives examples of each voice type.

When to Start  Lessons

When to Start Lessons

Formal voice lessons are not recommended until students are at least 11 or 12 years of age. The reason for this is that the vocal folds are still developing during childhood and they are still very fragile in prepubescent students. Putting too much strain on the vocal folds early on can potentially cause damage which will prevent students from using their voices to their full potential later on in life. Very young children should start on an instrument such as piano to learn the basics of musicianship and note reading. Children can also start on a wind instrument such as flute or clarinet around 8 or 9 to work on breath control as well as reading music. With a solid foundation in music, children will be ahead when they start to formally learn to sing at an older age. If your child is still interested in starting lessons, we recommend getting him or her involved in a children’s choir. This structured group environment will offer the basics of how to sing without overtaxing the voice.

What You Need for Lessons

What You Need for Lessons

If you are interested in having voice lessons in your home, you will need to have a keyboard with a minimum of 61 keys.This is so your teacher can play pitches for vocal exercises and melodies for songs you may be working on in your lessons. The keyboard does not need to have weighted keys or a pedal, but it should be able to produce accurate pitches.

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