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QUESTION: Dear Ms Pamela,

  I'm the same person who has enquired about my voice classfication earlier(i.e. I have sent a clip of myself singing Che Faro Senza)

  I have just began my voice lessons with a Bass/Countertenor opera singer. He has classified my voice as a tenor as, according to him, my timbre is typical of a tenor and my voice breaks/transits at around G4/A4(above middle C).

  Anyways, here is one clip of me singing 'Ah' on the scale: 1 3 5 3 1, without regards to any vocal techniques, while the other clip is of me going to as high as I could (but with a (struggled) attempt to engage proper diaphragm support) Is the last few notes in both of my clips considered falsetto? I can only go up to F5 in that kind of vocal production but I'm aware that it is ugly.



  Once again, thanks for your great advice and patience. Apologies for my extremely ugly voice quality and constant off pitch.



Thanks for the recordings.  I agree with your teacher that you are probably a tenor.  So keep working with him!

As to the high notes in your recordings - that is not falsetto.  If your teacher is a countertenor he should be able to help you find your true falsetto.  You want to engage only the thin edges of the cords - which means not using your full voice (or vibrating the whole cords).

Try singing an "oo" or "u" vowel and sing softer - like a soprano.  If you strengthen your falsetto it will help you find your head voice.
On 'u" vowel - start on the D below middle C and very softly - slide up the octave to the D above Middle C and then on "u" sing down the octave.  Eventually your will start in your falsetto and as you go down the octave you will move into your head voice..  Then follow that pattern up to Bflat if you can.  Remember - a very small "u" - your mouth should be open only the diameter of your little finger but the back of your throat should be wide (like it is at the beginning of a yawn).

Hope this helps.

Best of luck.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for great advice. I have decided to train as a tenor.

1.) I notice that when I descend from a high note, I will have tendency to go off pitch. It is as if my voice is missing some notes in between. I understand that it's normal for untrained singers to crack when they ascend. But why does this happen when one descends the voice?

Here is an example of me singing the scale (D4 F#4 A4 F#4 D4). Notice the obvious breaks when I descend.

2.) I'm curious to know what kind of tenor am I? (based on all the recordings you have heard). I have come across terms like primo passaggio and secondo passaggio. What exactly are they?  So, based on the recordings you have heard, what is likely to be my primo and secondo passaggios.

3.) I have read online that true tenors(even untrained) can usually hit notes above C5. For myself, I can usually hit C5 without warm up(but of course the sound quality is not good and there is an abrupt break when I ascend to the C5) and I can go up to D5,E5 after warming up(though the notes) and very occasionally, F#5.

Sorry for the lengthy questions. I will also discuss these questions with my voice teacher but it is also good to hear from another professional perspective, especially when you have sung with many professional tenors before:)


I can't tell what you are doing on the recording - I would work on this problem lower in pitch.  Start with C below middle C and sing C-E-G-E-C and see if you go off pitch.  Then keep going up the scale.  Don't focus on those high notes quite yet as you are not singing them correctly.  Your teacher will help you learn to sing them properly.  Work on the "u" vowel more.

I cannot tell exactly what vocal fach you will be - probably tenor.  But you have to keep working and learning how to sing beautifully before you know really where your voice is most exciting.

Your teacher can explain the tenor passaggio to you - some people think men have only one… usually for a tenor it can be between C sharp and E… each voice is a bit different.  I came across this online - an article you might like to read about being a tenor or baritone.

But I especially recommend   David Jones is a great teacher (he is my teacher and mentor) and he has some wonderful articles on his website - not to mention a CD that walks you through great exercises for the beginning singing.  This article about male voice protection (sometimes call a cover) is important - check it out.

Take a look at David's site - it's full of incredible articles - he has great knowledge about the voice.

Hope this helps.  Best,  Pamela


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Pamela Thomas


Questions on Opera performance, repertoire, vocal technique, acting for opera. I have some 20 years experience in opera in both leading roles and chorus. I have sung with New York City Opera since 1981. I have studied voice in NYC for over 20 years and have also taught technique and coached singers in acting.

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