Teacher: What kind of song would you like to sing next?
Student: I don't know, what ever you think.
Teacher: Well what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Student: I dunno. A little bit of everything?
As a voice teacher, yes, I choose loads of repertoire for my students. Especially younger students just getting started. However, there comes a time in everyone's practice where part of growing as an artist and performer is to have an opinion about what you would like to sing. I want to empower students to be independent learners and to embrace their best self. Yes, a coach can impose repertoire, but I feel we're missing a big part of the learning process if the singer is not motivated to participate or even LEAD the conversation.
How to figure out what to sing:
1. Listen to music! Broadway shows, singer songwriters, jazz, pop, country, soul, opera. Listen to all of it. What's calling to you?
2. Consider your age and the appropriateness of the material content. The subject matter should be something you can relate to based on your age and life experience.
3. Difficulty level. This is where your teacher should keep a guiding hand. Sometimes we are inspired to sing songs that are outside our skill level at the time. Consult with you teacher or coach to decide if now is the right time for said piece.
1. Make a list of all the Broadway shows you can see yourself being cast in. What roles could you study from those shows appropriate to your age and voice type?
2. Make a list of singers you admire from any and all genres. What songs do they sing that resonate with you, your life and your vocal identity?
3. If you are unsure what your specialty might be, "try on" several different types of songs. Even within the Musical Theatre canon, we are expected to sing in dozens of different styles.
Enjoy exploring and have some fun while doing it! Personally, I love when students have a point of view about what they'd like to sing. I want my students to enjoy their lessons and I want them to have the voice they've always dreamed of. When they show up with ideas, no matter their age, it helps me get to know them and build a plan for them that jives with their own vision of who they are and what they want to learn.
Pictured here: Madalena DiVieste who loves to sing Italian songs and arias. This summer she sang Funiculi, Funicula at the Warren Italian Festival.