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Opera/Started training late


QUESTION: I am 22 years old, and I started voice lessons my senior year of college. I am in my second year of voice training now.

My teacher classified me as a coloratura soprano with a range from B3-A6.

I did not major in music in college, and I am wondering if I am too late to be training to become a professional singer in any capacity? I am training in operatic voice, but I am not sure if I need a BM degree to perform professionally or participate in any singing programs. I am currently also pursuing a higher degree in a field unrelated to music for job security.

Should I continue my voice lessons for a few more years, or take the classes needed to complete a BM as a nontraditional student? Is my fach extremely common?

Thanks for your advice!!

ANSWER: Hi Anna,

This is a hard question to answer - because it depends on your talent, how good your voice is, and how much you want to make opera/classical music your career.

Certainly in the "business" these days the powers that be love young singers.. but 22 is very young so I believe you certainly have time.

I would say that if you love to sing you should definitely continue to study.  There are definitely more sopranos than other voices so the competition will be strong - but again - if you have a true talent and a special voice age won't matter.

I don't necessarily think you need to get a music degree in order to pursue a singing career -BUT - you do learn so much more getting the degree.  Languages, history, theory, acting.. It gives you time to study and learn.

Now you can also study voice and take classes outside a degree.  Certainly you need the languages and acting... but there are many wonderful acting classes you can take in any big city... or at your college.

Have you discussed this with your teacher?  What does he/she think?  You could also, if you feel ready, go sing for a professional coach, teacher or singer and ask for their thoughts...

After saying all of this, let me say that if you really love to sing then I think you should sing.  You may not end up singing professionally on the big stage, but that doesn't mean you can't be a professional singer and sing in smaller venues.  You could also teach music (although you would need a degree for that if you taught in schools); you can investigate music therapy, arts management, theatre management... there are so many related fields that you may find one that inspires you.

So because I haven't heard you I can't really give you the best advice... but I say if you love to sing, then sing!

All the best,


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

QUESTION: I had an opera singer listen to me, and she said that I have a beautiful tone color and I will probably need 5 more years of training. That would make me 27-is this still considered "young"?
My teacher says that the only area I need to improve on is singing in my passagio.

Can you please elaborate on the meaning of "special voice?"

Is it possible to sing in smaller venues professionally if I don't have an agent or manager?

Thank you:)

Hi Anna,

It sounds like you have a beautiful voice - I would take their advice and keep studying.  You may improve faster or a little slower - but you'll be able to tell you are on the right track sooner than that.

By special voice, I mean a voice that stands out... for beauty, technique... there are a lot of really good singers out there.  So besides studying to improve your voice you will need to be artistic, musical and especially you will have to act.  So make sure to take acting classes....

And also - the voice keeps improving throughout your life.  There is always something to learn and improve...

And you can certainly sing in smaller, volunteer-type venues without a manager.  Any group that is not AGMA (the singer's union) will look at many different singers... non-union.  In fact, you will need to get some stage experience in order to get an agent - so singing in with these groups is a good thing to do.

Also - once your teacher feels you are ready you should audition for the summer programs - the apprentice programs.  Santa Fe, San Francisco, Sarasota, Chicago - there are so many - some big ones and some smaller.  If you can get accepted to one of these programs that will help you a lot.

If you plan to keep studying for 5 years you might consider studying in a well known music school and getting a degree or an artist's diploma.

Wishing you all the best,



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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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