What's the Difference Between an Alto and a Mezzo-Soprano?

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In choral singing, voice parts are normally listed as soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. A four-part, mixed voice choir is frequently referred to as an 'SATB choir,' where SATB is short for soprano-alto-tenor-bass. So if SATB is for a chorus of women and men, what do you think an all-women's chorus would be? Take a guess--and read on! It's an 'SA choir,' or an 'SSAA choir.' However, since all of these women's voices are notated on the treble cleff, a women's chorus is most often referred to as a Treble Choir.

You'll remember from my previous blog post that voice classification in individual singers is somewhat different than the names of voice parts in a chorus or ensemble. However, when we get to bigger concert pieces, like the Mahler Symphony No. 2, the score (sheet music) lists the soloist's voices like the choral voice parts.

Let's use the Mahler Symphony No. 2 as an example. It calls for an orchestra, an SATB choir, a soprano soloist and an alto soloist. A soprano soloist sings the soprano solo and a mezzo-soprano then sings the part of the alto. A true alto, a contralto, can also sing this part, but as you read last time, there aren't as many true contraltos as there are mezzos and their ranges are similar. That's why mezzo-sopranos so frequently sing alto.

Which is exactly what I do. I am a mezzo-soprano (my voice classification), however I sing the alto part in many oratorios and concert pieces. I sing the alto solo in Handel's Messiah, in the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, the Mozart Requiem and in Bach's Christmas Oratorio.

There are scores in which the composer calls for a mezzo-soprano soloist, in which case it's pretty clear:  a mezzo-soprano sings the mezzo-soprano solo.

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Do you have a question about voice parts, singing, or music? Email me and I'll answer it here on the blog!

What Your Teacher Never Told You

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So you're 18, fantastic at music, everybody loves what you perform, and they all want to know if you're going to study music. 'Yes!,' you say, and you head off for 4 years (or more) of higher education, maybe take another 2 years for graduate school, and you hit the real world as a freelancer. But your teacher (or teachers) never told you this: that you're an entrepreneur. And you need valuable skills that no one taught you in college or grad school--one of the most important ones being: money management.The Money Book

We're not talking about making a budget and balancing your checkbook, we're talking about setting aside money for taxes, paying them on time, avoiding fees & penalties, creating an emergency fund (for when those gigs don't come rollin' in!) and creating a system by which you can be financially successful.

Years ago my dad taught me this: Don't follow the money; never let it out of your sight.

I knew how to do that with my checkbook, but for my business I had to figure it out the hard way. (That is a sad statement for someone who went through 6 years of higher education.) Here's one tool that I picked up recently and from which I have learned an immense amount: The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs.

Go take a look and use the "Look Inside" feature. Watch 'The Money Book' Video. Don't let your money out of your sight!

N.B.:  This book doesn't differentiate between personal and business accounts and they assume you have one main checking account. Use separate accounts for your business and personal finances--you give yourself clarity, avoid overwhelm, and you avoid potentially serious problems with the IRS!

How Savvy Are You?

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The Savvy Musician by David CutlerJust like your instrument, The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living & Making a Difference is a tool for your toolbox. And if there's one thing I've seen that more musicians need, it's business skills.

 

In college and grad school, no one pulled me aside and said, "Hey, did you know that you'll be an entrepreneur for the rest of your life and everything that goes into your career you'll have to generate yourself?" If they had, well, we'd all be reading a different blog entry right now.

 

Over the years I've created several lists of skills every performer needs from "time management/scheduling" to "flexibility, sightreading, networking, branding" and the like. Thankfully Dorothy Wu, Co-Founder of NotesontheRoad.com, told me about David Cutler's book

 

The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living & Making a Difference. I've already implemented ideas from this book and as I can personally attest to, it's an extremely valuable tool for your toolbox!

 

Stay tuned for my next tip for Musical Entrepreneurship Success!

Now Available for Download!

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Now Available at iTunes and CDBaby.com!

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"Fly Wtih Me," "Maybe So," and "Siana," all composed by Catherine Dalton, are available for download on iTunes and CDBaby.com. For more, please click on the links above or take a look in the Listening Room!

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This is our and my first digital release and Catherine and I are proud and excited to share our work with you.

Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra Review Is In!

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Third Coast Digest reviewed last weekend's concertof Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" with Soprano Amy Conn and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Hynson. Reviewer Barbara Castonguay had the following to say:  "Warner’s hearty mezzo brims with caramel and chocolate richness." Thank you, Ms. Castonguay!

Be sure to check out the post-concert picture in the Picture Gallery.