ask jenny > Mezzo or alto/contralto?

Hi Jenni,

I've been an alto in choirs all my life, and when I started one-on-one voice lessons 2 years ago my teacher said I was a mezzo. I usually picked pieces with a lower tessitura because I could sing those much more comfortably. However, recently I had to work on Voi che sapete for a concert and since its tessitura is higher than what I can sing easily, it showed off a whole bunch of holes in my technique, which I'm still working on improving.

But after that, my teacher has said that I'm actually an alto/contralto and should pick lower pieces. So my question is - is it likely that I'm an alto/contralto (I'm only 19), or am I just a mezzo who needs to work more on her technique?

Thank you!

- Confused

June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConfused

Hi Confused -

You are right to think that it's difficult to classify a voice at 19 years old. When I was 19, I had decided that I was going to be a soprano and I was singing Glitter and be Gay - and then in grad school I realized I was a mezzo. I don't know why your teacher wants you stick to lower repertoire - maybe he or she thinks that you're not quite ready to sing too high and wants you to work on your middle voice more. However, I definitely don't think you can officially classify yourself, and you should sing whatever (non overly heavy) repertoire you want, and try to make it as good technically as you can. Voi che sapete is not super high - if you want to work on that or any Mozart aria, I think you definitely should. Just work on the repertoire that moves you, don't push or strain yourself while singing, and your voice "type" will become obvious as you get older. I entered college as a mezzo, but I heard these Dominick Argento songs I really wanted to sing (six Elizabethan songs) and my teacher said "but those are for a soprano" and I said "well, then, I'm a soprano." I wasn't, but I really wanted to sing those songs, and so I did. You ask whether you're a mezzo who needs to work on her technique - at 19, I'd say you're a singer who needs to work on her technique. Just keep working and see what happens. It never hurt anyone to work on their high notes - no matter their voice classification!

June 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterJenny