Do Singers Get Paid For Singing?

on . Posted in Singing

YES! Just like the organist at your wedding, your child's piano teacher and your high school choir teacher, singers get paid for singing.

Singers add a special emotional, spiritual element to many occasions and they may already be working in music positions you're not aware of. Did you know that many church choirs have section leaders in the different voice parts? And that many private parties hire singers and other musicians for cocktail hours and general entertainment?

Here's a sampler list of all the different work that singers do:

  1. weddings
  2. private voice lessons
  3. church & temple services - as soloists, as paid section leaders, as guest musicians, as choir conductors...the list goes on!
  4. funerals & memorial services
  5. receptions, both private & public - from jazz to pop, some singers sing it all!
  6. orchestral concerts - from symphony orchestras to chamber orchestras and from chamber ensembles to community orchestras
  7. educational outreach - many singers earn their entire living with fascinating programs in schools and libraries
  8. concerts in-the-park
  9. rock bands
  10. singing the national anthem at sporting events
  11. making recordings
  12. voice-overs & jingles
  13. ensembles - this can range from multi-voice ensembles like Cantus, to small ensembles for weddings and memorial services
  14. community choirs - conducting & administrating
  15. other instruments - many singers also play another instrument and many also accompany their own students in recitals and at competitions; you remember Solo & Ensemble, don't you?
  16. piano tunings - every piano needs a tuning at least once a year

Remember, this is just a beginning list of all the work that's out there for singers. Can you think of other work singers do? Email me and I"ll blog about it!



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

on . Posted in Singing

This is the #1 question I get asked by concert audience members and people I meet on the street.

Let's start with choir voice types. In a choir, people sit in sections:  sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. You’ll probably recognize the names soprano and alto from choir in school. This is different from an actual voice classification, as there are more of those than there are choir voice types.

There are three voice classifications for women:

  • a soprano (the highest)
  • a mezzo-soprano (in the middle) and
  • a contralto (a/k/a alto).

So think of a mezzo-soprano as being able to sing Alto I or Soprano II and fitting into that place in between.

Sopranos are typically comfortable singing higher pitches and also for longer periods of time. Mezzo-sopranos can also sing high, but not always quite as high and mezzos may find it more challenging than a soprano. Mezzo-sopranos also sing lower than a soprano and for longer periods of time. Contraltos sing even lower than mezzo-sopranos but true contraltos don’t sing nearly as high as mezzo-sopranos and sopranos.

Also, every woman’s voice ‘shifts’ differently between the lower, middle, and upper registers (think of those like the low, middle, and high gears of a car) and some singers experience their voices in two registers, or maybe just one! Just as the clutch is different on every car, each person’s voice 'drives' and ‘shifts’ differently.

Do you remember singing in choir in school and there was always that part of a song that went higher, but it wasn’t comfortable until you sang even higher? That’s the part of our voices where we need to ‘shift’ and that is called a passaggio, an Italian word meaning ‘passage.’ Singers practice a lot so these passaggi (the plural of passaggio) aren’t too obvious for the listener.