Acting in Plays, Singing/Voice Type

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Question
Hey! I was wondering about what voice type I have. I am an 18 year old guy, about 5 foot 7( short I know, and about 170 pounds( I lift weights). Well for the past year I have been training with a Lyric Coloratura Soprano for voice lessons and she at first labeled me as a baritone because of my low extension. Very recently I was singing a baritone song and my voice popped( can't explain how) because I felt it was too low for my comfort. And so she upgraded me to Tenor 2 which feels ok. The thing is though, When I sing Tenor 1 my voice feels much more comfortable and free. Well my overall range is about E2( which feels very icky but I can hit it) up to C6( soprano high C in falsetto) Without Vocal Fry and Falsetto my voice is C3( Lowest Comfortable note) up to Bflat 4( Last comfortable high note) and well I can hit High B's and C's but when I do I feel a little strain and its very very loud when I do. Sometimes I can even hit a high D5 in full voice but that just luck I think. What really sets me apart is that I can head voice into F5 and Falsetto into C6. Overall people love my voice because they says it sounds very powerful( I sing Broadway style but have a classical basis) even up to my high notes. My voice teacher has pretty much Labeled me as a Lyric Baritenor ( which I really don't know what that means lol) but I basically naturally sing Tenor I just sound more manly over my range and on the low notes I may even be mistaken as a baritone. My main problem is that I tend to force notes when I get into my high range. My question is, at some point will I be able to comfortably hit high B's and C's, I mean will my voice gain those notes? Should I sing Tenor 1 in choir even if my top note really is a Bflat? And am I really a tenor after all? My voice LOVES G4's and Gsharps but when I get into the A4 to C5 range, I really really have to have breath support and concentrate... I don't know, maybe it is my age? I am only 18 after all. Thanks!!!

Answer
Hello, Ian --

Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate your careful descriptions.

There is no such thing as a “Lyric Baritenor”. You are either a tenor or a baritone. This relatively new term comes from a flood of Broadway musicals which have roles that can be sung by most anybody (accept a true bass). They don’t go too high and never too low. What they really require is a clever actor.

In the Classical world, you train as either a baritone or tenor. Within each of those categories are a number of types—the correct term being “fach”, i.e., a Lyric Baritone, a Dramatic Tenor, etc. A great many things go into determining an individual’s true vocal category. Sometimes it’s not so obvious, especially at 18.

My job as a professional vocal coach is to determine your true vocal category and to train you accordingly. I have to hear you do what you are describing. We can certainly do a consultation on Skype. You may very well prove to be a tenor who simply hasn’t been trained well in his upper register. And even though you might occasionally produce some sort of tone on Low E, my bet is that no one will hear it out in Row 3 and with piano accompaniment underneath it. Moreover, no one writes material for a lyric baritone that goes much lower than the Ab above it.

Between now and the time you find yourself another teacher -- listen to some recordings, YouTubes, etc., by these Classical tenors: Rolando Villazón, Lawrence Brownlee, Juan Diego Flórez.

The goal of professional training and a Degree from a Conservatory is to equip you and your voice for the roles that are written for your specific category and with enough flexibility and superior musicianship to handle some roles in a related category -- and according to the demands of the composer and the size of the venue. For example, Mozart compared to Wagner.

Professional choruses, such as those of the Opera and Symphony here in San Francisco, don’t have sections for “Baritenors”. You audition for one section only and more than likely with required material in a specific key that proves your vocal category, proficiency with languages, ability to sight read, etc.

I’m really encouraging you to become more familiar with the Classical world. If you are not the best dancer in the audition line, then the Broadway stage is not for you.

I also want to encourage you to change your exercise plan. A singer needs to be strong aerobically. At 170 pounds, you need to put the weights down and start running or swimming or jumping rope. No one’s climactic upper register is a walk in the park. It’s work! And you have to work efficiently in order to accumulate that unity of vocal dexterity, breath control and endurance. Weight lifting is not the best way to achieve that.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Check out my web site: http://FabulousFilmSongs.com

I'm also an entertainment and cultural critic for HuffingtonPost.com – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield and Classical music reviewer for Examiner.com – http://www.examiner.com/user/4557381/articles. Let me know when you're ready to come to San Francisco for some vocal coaching. I’m also available for lessons on Skype.

See my interview with popular TV host, David Perry, on "Ten Percent":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKeeTYTYMAI

Below are links to my articles and youtubes on the San Francisco Bay Area entertainment and cultural scene:

On “The Joyless Street” at the Silent Film Festival—An Interview with Matti Bye
http://www.examiner.com/article/on-the-joyless-street-at-the-silent-film-festiva

THE GERSHWINS AND ME – A Conversation with Michael Feinstein
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-gershwins-and-me-a-conversation-with-michael

Introducing Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber as San Francisco Symphony’s Tony & Maria in “West Side Story”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/introducing-cheyenne-jackson-and-

Nathan Gunn Is ‘Yeshua’ in San Francisco Opera’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/nathan-gunn-on-becoming-y_b_34884

Natalie Dessay on ‘Becoming Traviata’—French Soprano bids ‘Adieu’ to opera stage
http://www.examiner.com/review/natalie-dessay-on-becoming-traviata-french-sopran

‘Tales of Hoffmann’ Fizzles at San Francisco Opera
http://www.examiner.com/review/tales-of-hoffmann-fizzles-at-san-francisco-opera?

‘A Grand Romance’—A Spectacular CD from pianist Jeffrey Biegel
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/a-grand-romancea-spectacular-cd_b

Philippe Sly Debuts In 'Cosi fan tutte' at San Francisco Opera
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/philippe-sly-debuts-in-co_b_33294

Nicole Henry redefines the '70s with her latest CD, 'So Good, So Right'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/nicole-henry-redefines-the-70s_b_

THE GREAT GATSBY—F. Scott Fitzgerald Classic goes Three Dimensional
http://www.examiner.com/review/the-great-gatsby-f-scott-fitzgerald-classic-goes-

'FILLY BROWN' — An Extraordinary Film from Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos
http://www.examiner.com/review/filly-brown-an-extraordinary-film-from-youssef-de

Nonsemble 6 presents Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' – in corsets
http://www.examiner.com/article/nonsemble-6-presents-schoenberg-s-pierrot-lunair

Tenor Noah Stewart Debuts with Berkeley Symphony in World Premiere of New Work by Steven Stucky
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/noah-stewart_b_2899344.html

Marnie Breckenridege, A Modern Soprano for Contemporary Opera
http://www.examiner.com/article/marnie-breckenridge-a-modern-soprano-for-contemp

A Profile of Choreographer John Neumeier and his "Nijinsky"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/profile-choreographer-john-neumei

Peggy Cummins Honored at San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/noir-city-film-festival_b_2569333

In Conversation with Peter Gallagher – Coming to the Venetian Room
http://www.examiner.com/article/in-conversation-with-peter-gallagher-coming-sund

Melody Moore steps into Tosca — Opening Night at San Francisco Opera
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/tosca-san-francisco-opera_b_21965

'Moby-Dick' opens at San Francisco Opera: A Conversation with Composer Jake Heggie
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/moby-dick-san-francisco-opera_b_1

'Drama Queens' – A Conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/drama-queens-a-conversation_b_214

Marco Vratogna Is Sensational as Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/marco-vratogna-is-sensati_b_19070

A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/a-conversation-with-joshu_b_18824

Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford duke it out at The Castro Theatre's 90th Anniversary
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/norma-shearer-and-joan-cr_b_17750

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/samuel-ramey-attila_b_1586131.htm

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/tom-judson-cabaret_b_1498594.html

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/gennadi-nedvigi-ballet_b_1427319.

Organist Christopher Houlihan Makes A Powerful Debut at Davies Symphony Hall
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/christopher-houlihan_b_1398351.ht

RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/richard-winsor-swan-lake_b_135148

DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166623

KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with "The Diva" of Teatro ZinZanni
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166029

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=86049

A Look At "Giselle" with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33-a6Oa-0j4

ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=58241

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield

Expertise

I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: BroadwayBelters@yahoo.com I am also a music and cultural critic for HuffingtonPost.com and Examiner.com. I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.

Experience

As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at: Broadwaybelters@yahoo.com

Publications
HuffingtonPost.com Examiner.com FabulousFilmSongs.com SanFranciscoSentinel.com

Education/Credentials
San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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