I have always loved singing. At five, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'm pretty sure singer was at the top of the list, after ballerina and artist, of course. The thing that really got me interested in taking voice lessons was a book I read by Elfrida Vipont called The Lark in the Morn. In it, the main character finds herself through her voice and eventually becomes a singer. But more on that another time. The point is, the book mentioned several well-known songs by important composers, most of which I had never heard of before, not being familiar with opera or classical vocal pieces. I wanted to find out more, so I went on YouTube and looked up the songs mentioned in the book. They were beautiful, especially a certain piece of Lieder, An Die Musik, by Schubert.
I got an opportunity for voice lessons when my sister Tessie, who saw piano lessons more as torture than anything else, expressed an interest in singing. My mom, who wanted Tessie to do something with music, looked into it, and with the help of my piano teacher she signed us both up for lessons.
I have learned more in voice than I thought possible to learn about singing. The first book of vocal pieces I got was called 26 Italian Song and Arias. A very promising name. I got to sing songs from operas, in Italian! Since my beginning some of my favorite songs I've done are Amarilli, Mia Bella (my very first, by Caccini), If Music Be The Food Of Love (first version, by Purcell), Ombra Mai Fu (from Serse by Handel), O Del Mio Amato Ben (an intensely sad piece by Donaudy), and Plaisir d'Amour (by Martini). Obviously, these aren't all from the same book. And also, these are not the only songs I've done. There are several I didn't mention, including the one I'm currently working on for recital, Se i Miei Sospiri by Fetis.
There is one unexpected downside to taking voice lessons. You become very judgmental. Tessie and I are now quite sensitive to pitch, tone quality and breath control, which makes us insufferable critics of our own and others' singing. It's something we need to work on.
If you're interested, click here to see my mom's post about our last voice recital on May 5.