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QUESTION: I recently started vocal lessons primarily to help with shyness and the teacher (essentially 21 years old) is trying to get me to sing the "Italian vowels." Is that normal or what is wrong with the vowel sounds an English speaker like myself would be more familiar with?

ANSWER: Hi James,

Good for you for starting lessons!  That's great.  As to your question.  The Italian vowels are the most pure vowels in singing so it's a good place to start.  Essentially the vowels are the same in English - it's just that we add diphthongs to the end of ours.  For example:

The Italian word "Caro" - is Kah - ro in Italian   We add a diphthong to the o  so we say Kah - ro-oo.

For the vowel "a" "ay" - in English - the Italians use "e".  When we say "e" or "ay" - we say "e-i" - like day….

So basically the vowels are the same - you just have to learn not to use the diphthong…

Does that make sense??

Best,  Pamela

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

QUESTION: It feels really weird making those sounds. I think I might prefer public speaking lessons or something else. This teacher seems a  bit off her rocker. Personally prefer French sounds to a more vulgar sounding Italian sound. I am just trying to learn to sing without my voice cracking and getting weak.

Hi James.

Not sure what you are doing in your lessons but truly Italian vowels should not be an issue.
Since I can't hear your lessons it's hard for me to advise you.

But given the way you are feeling maybe you should try another teacher.  It's also fine to sing in English until you get used to singing.

Hope things work out.

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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