Category Archives: Vocal

Assembling a Vocal Library

By Sally K. Albrecht

Growing up, I was always busy as an accompanist. I played for musicals, choirs, solo singers, and instrumentalists alike. When I was in middle school, I accompanied my two older high school sisters and their singing friends at vocal solo contests all over the state of Ohio. Generally, I was handed a vocal collection or some kind of book or piece of sheet music from which to play.

In my junior year of college, I began taking some voice lessons. My teacher always insisted I purchase the necessary books at the beginning of each semester, even if we were only going to study one or two songs from the collection.

My next voice teacher didn’t do that. She just made me photocopies of specific songs from her fabulous library of music. It saved me some money at the time, but a few years down the road, when I was teaching and wanted to perform those songs or see what else of interest might have been in those collections, I had no way of knowing where those treasures had come from! (And way back then, in the dark ages, I couldn’t just search a song title on the internet to find out!)

Maybe I didn’t know all of the rules about photocopying then, but I have a feeling my instructor did. And, to be honest, I did toss those illegal copies many years (and moves) ago. But I still really wish I had at least some of those songs/books in my vocal library.

So do your students a favor: work with them to purchase those wonderful and important tools called vocal anthologies. What a great investment it will be for their future. Teach your singers how to order music from a retailer. Help them start to assemble an appropriate, important, and wonderful vocal library, containing a variety of literature that will help them grow as performers.

Here’s my list of top “basic” books from Alfred Music that will stand the test of time in your vocal library. Most are available in Medium High and Medium Low voicings, with or without accompaniment CDs.

1. 26 Italian Songs and AriasEd. by John Glenn Paton. Contains the most important songs and arias, along with background information and translations. By far, the best edition on the market.

2. Singer’s Library of SongCompiled & Ed. by Patrick M. Liebergen. Features 37 songs from the Medieval era through the 20th Century, with historical information, IPA, and translations where needed. Includes a few songs in several different languages, plus a handful of folk songs and spirituals… something for everyone. An excellent potpourri for developing vocalists.

3. Folk Songs for Solo SingersCompiled & Ed. by Jay Althouse. Volume 1 contains 11 arrangements (including the favorite contest solo “Homeward Bound”). I also enjoy the variety of songs in Volume 2 (features 14 arrangements). You’ll also see another great choice, American Folk Songs for Solo Singers!

4. The Spirituals of Harry T. BurleighArr. by Harry T. Burleigh. An incredible anthology of 48 awesome spiritual settings. Did you know that we recorded accompaniment CDs (set of 2) for this collection? There’s a reason most of these arrangements have been in print continuously since around 1920. Did I mention that these arrangements are truly awesome?

5. Favorite Sacred Classics for Solo SingersCompiled & Ed. by Patrick M. Liebergen. Features 18 well-known sacred classics by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and others. You’ll be ready to sing in any church or recital hall.

6. Pathways of SongCompiled, arr., translated, and ed. Frank LaForge & Will Earhart. This comprehensive series offers concert songs in appropriate vocal ranges for the voice student, by composers such as Schubert, Brahms, Handel, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn. The series is available by volume or a compilation of the best songs from every volume!

7. Christmas for Solo SingersEd. Jay Althouse. This books compiles some of the most well-known and time-tested seasonal favorites. Great for seasonal recitals and concerts. Take this book with you to Grandma’s house on Christmas day, and you’ll get the whole family singing along!

Stephen Collins Foster – The Father of American Music

Jeanine M. Jacobson

By Kathleen Ballantyne
Composer and Ithaca Children and Youth Chorus,  Artistic Director

“Oh! Susannah,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and “Camptown Races” are only some of the songs that many of us learned in childhood and have come to embrace as part of the quintessential American musical identity. Though they have become so universally popular and regarded as simply folksongs, all three tunes were written by Stephen Collins Foster.

Foster was, in fact, America’s first true professional composer, since unlike his contemporaries, he earned his income from songwriting only, rather than a combination of performing, teaching, and writing.

Despite being known as “The Father of American Music,” Foster was plagued by financial insolvency throughout his life. A series of bad business decisions by his father led to the loss of the family home overlooking the Allegheny River when Stephen was a boy. Stephen’s fortunes weren’t much better once he was on his own: between rampant copyright infringement and poor contractual negotiations, Foster struggled to make ends meet throughout most of his life.

“Camptown Races,” one of Foster’s earliest and most relentlessly plagiarized hits, is one of 10 iconic and beloved Foster classics arranged by Mark Hayes in The Stephen Foster Collection. Energetic and playful, “Camptown Races” embodies all of the illicit excitement of betting on horse racing, which was banned outright in Foster’s native Pennsylvania in 1820.

Camptown Races

A vivid description of the sights and sounds of the racetrack is found in the lyrics, while the accompaniment captures the trotting, bobbing, and galloping of the horses. Hayes adds some humorous touches to the arrangement as well: the verse that starts “Ol’ muley cow come on to the track” plods along at a slower tempo, with frequent stops and starts, before settling into a jaunty waltz feel in one at the familiar chorus of “Goin’ to run all night!”

“Beautiful Dreamer,” the song perhaps most closely associated with Foster, is also another standout selection from The Stephen Foster Collection. Though widely advertised by publishers as “the last song Stephen Foster ever wrote,” it appears that it was actually written more than a year before his untimely demise. A tender lullaby, Foster’s original music and words are deeply moving. Mark Hayes’s arrangement features softly undulating arpeggiated piano accompaniment and freedom of tempo, encouraging expressive performance.

Over the course of his 20-year career as a songwriter, Stephen Foster wrote more than 280 songs and even though it was a short career, Foster’s work has sustained his legacy for over 190 years. To learn more about The Stephen Foster Collection, visit To watch the trailer, visit

Alfred Music Joins Peaksware To Help The World Experience The Joy of Making Music

Andrew Surmani

By Andrew Surmani
Chief Marketing Officer, Alfred Music

Alfred Music is excited to announce today that it is joining the Peaksware Holdings, LLC portfolio of companies. This group includes MakeMusic, Inc., the developer of Finale and SmartMusic, bringing together the leaders in educational music publishing and music technology.

Both Alfred Music and MakeMusic will continue to operate independently. By sharing resources within the Peaksware group, additional investments and innovations will provide additional content and distribution channels for both companies. Specifically, this relationship will not change MakeMusic’s long-standing commitment to work equally with all publishing partners to provide the highest level of quality content for musicians and educators within SmartMusic.

“We are excited to be working with MakeMusic. Alfred Music truly believes in the MakeMusic products which is why we took over exclusive North American and UK distribution of the Finale suite of products in 2013. We also believe strongly in the SmartMusic platform, evidenced by the fact that we are one of its leading content providers. This partnership provides the resources needed to significantly enhance Alfred Music’s mission of helping the world experience the joy of making music,” said Andrew Surmani, Chief Marketing Officer of Alfred Music.” “We are combining the leading music education publisher with the industry leader in music technology to benefit everyone, from our music publishing partners, to music dealers, composers, arrangers, educators, students and independent musicians.”

MakeMusic owns some of the most advanced and patented technology solutions to support the composing, arranging, teaching, learning, and playing of music. Regular updates and innovations to Finale make it the industry standard for music notation software and the trusted creation tool for composers and arrangers around the world. With more than one million students and 20,000 teachers, SmartMusic is at the forefront of interactive learning technologies for the classroom. And, with their recent acquisition of Weezic, an Augmented Sheet Music innovator, SmartMusic will now be available wherever musicians are – on the web, Chromebooks, iPads, Mac and PC.

Alfred Music’s customers, dealers, and industry partners should expect business to continue as usual with no immediate changes. Alfred’s main office will remain in Van Nuys, California and additional offices will stay in their current New York, Miami, UK, Singapore, and Germany locations.

To stay current with further developments, visit the SmartMusic blog or follow Alfred on Twitter and MakeMusic on Twitter.

Words of Worth

vanessa_christianBy Vanessa Christian, Associate Editor

For centuries composers have looked to great authors and poets for inspirational texts. Writers of the Baroque era often set stories of the Bible to music for their oratorios and operas. The tradition continued through later eras: Schubert had Goethe, Debussy had Baudelaire, Bernstein had Voltaire, and on and on.

Composers of today frequently find themselves setting the words of Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Louis Stevenson, just to name a few. But what is it about classic poetry that marries itself so readily with musical composition? Most likely, they are the same elements that create a popular song:

  • Using stressed syllables and cadences, poets create a rhythmic structure to support their words. Since both poets and musicians rely on a catchy rhythm, starting with an existing poem provides a natural framework for an added melody and harmonies.
  • Poets use imagery that composers can bring out in musical ways, such as an icy river rushing through the accompaniment, or hushed prairie winds lingering in the voices.
  • When a poem impacts its reader, it elicits an emotional response, possibly by being extremely relatable or telling a beautiful story. The meaningful words are enhanced and built upon by a skilled composer.

These elements combine to make the union of poetry and music a natural, timeless tradition.

Poetry in Music

Vicki Tucker CourtneyBy Vicki Tucker Courtney

Poetry is defined as the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts. But poetry can also be sung! The initial task for both of my Contemporary Art Songs collections was to find poems with topics that were relative—the language understandable and not too archaic—and that could, of course, be captured in song.

Musically, my goal was to provide a variety of styles and vocal ranges. But it was the subject matter that inspired the melodies. Subjects range from morning to the stars of night, from nature to the seasons, from birthdays to holidays, from the world of dreams to the reality of love, and, of course, music. But it was also the subject matter that inspired the passions of these melodies, ranging from excitement and joy to disappointment and distress. As a pianist, I found it very satisfying to craft a memorable melody and an interesting accompaniment for each.

Additionally, the men’s songs were written by male poets and the women’s songs were written by female poets. Poems that were written as early as the eighteenth century by well-known and some not so well-known poets are included. I found their backgrounds fascinating and would encourage the singer to read about them in the short biographies provided in each collection.


Selecting Music for Contests and Competitions

Anne PaynterBy Anne Paynter

“The results have been posted!” Fluttering teenagers dash to the back hall of the music building to get a peek at the rankings for today’s vocal competition. As nervous as they are, the students don’t realize that it is also a pit-in-the-stomach moment for the teachers following behind them. “What if my students didn’t do well? Could I have better prepared them for this day? Why do the same teachers’ students always seem to come out on top?”

As voice teachers (or as choral directors doing our best to cultivate our students’ individual voices), we are constantly challenged with helping our students to become the best musicians and performers that they can be. There are many facets to this job and obviously, good basic breath support and vocal technique come first. However, there are other layers: language, interpretation, stage presentation, etc. And one of the biggest challenges for the music teacher is simply choosing the right material for each student.

Being music educators, we typically lean towards choosing music that will stretch and challenge our students. But there are other things to be taken into consideration when selecting music for a contest or competition. Let’s further examine how to discern which type of music is best for an individual student when faced with being judged on their performance.

What is the purpose of a vocal contest or competition for high school students? It is likely either to provide financial scholarship, encouragement, or simply a learning experience for the student. In any case, it is of the utmost importance to select material at an attainable level that will showcase a student’s strengths. There is nothing more traumatic for a 15-year-old girl than to walk into an adjudication to perform a song that she knows is not ready. It is our job as educators to determine which music will be manageable for a student to perform well, in regards to range and technical ability, while demonstrating to the judges the unique exceptional qualities of that particular individual.

By way of example, let’s begin with a 14-year-old soprano with an undeveloped, breathy tone quality and limited range. If she has just begun to study, her breath capacity may be small, so songs with short phrases and few long sustained notes would be comfortable. If the student is not the dramatic sort, and you think that just getting through the contest without falling apart will be an accomplishment, try something simple, like Mozart’s “Die Zufriedenheit” (Mozart 12 Songs) in English—or in German if the student is smart and has a good ear for language. Another nice option would be “Billy Boy” arranged by Mark Hayes (10 Folk Songs for Solo Voice). Or, if the student is a little more on the dramatic side, use this to her advantage! The Spanish folksong “I Don’t Wish to Marry” (Pathways of Song, Vol. 3) in either English or Spanish is an excellent choice for a budding actress. Sometimes the ability to interpret and act will outweigh a lack of vocal technique. Finding a song that a student will connect with emotionally enhances their performance—and encourages them to practice! Other favorites for young sopranos are Carol Kelley’s “Who Has Seen the Wind?” and Marcy Pyrtle’s “Pie Jesu” (Ye Shall Have a Song).

A young baritone with an “exuberant” voice can be a challenge. Use his enthusiasm to his advantage in a sea chantey type song, such as, “Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone” by Sherri Porterfield or ‘Break, Break, Break” by Ruth Morris Gray (Sing Me a Song). Pairing this with a folk song such as “Star of the County Down” arranged by Douglas Wagner (12 Folk Songs for Solo Singers), or “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” arranged by Jay Althouse (Folk Songs for Solo Singers, Vol. 2), makes for a great contrasting program. Or, if he is capable of singing controlled lines and has an ear for language, try Beethoven’s “Ich Liebe Dich” (Pathways of Song, Vol. 2).

As students progress, the options really open up. Singers with an aptitude for language should definitely explore the options in Italian, French, and German. It is imperative that the student not only be able to pronounce the sounds; in order to interpret and communicate to the audience, students should have a good, working translation of any foreign language song they sing. Italian is the obvious starting point when introducing languages, because the vowels are simple and pure. 26 Italian Songs and Arias offers a wide variety of songs from which to choose, all with background information, translations, and IPA pronunciation guides. Again, play to your student’s strengths! A young actress will love “Nel cor più non mi sento” by Paisiello. Light, flexible voices will flourish in songs such as Caldara’s “Alma del core,” Scarlatti’s “Già il sole dal Gange,” or (for females) Parisotti’s “Se tu m’ami.” A voice with more control might attempt “O del mio dolce ardor” by von Gluck. Remember, when choosing these more frequently performed songs, it is even more important that the student be able to conquer the song and sing it well—the judges have heard them many times!

German can be a great next step when exploring languages. The prominence of consonants in the language helps to bring the placement of the voice forward. Haydn’s “Die Landlust” (Pathways of Song, Vol. 1) or Mozart’s “Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge” (Mozart 12 Songs) is a great choice for a younger, lighter voice. Mendelssohn’s “Auf flügeln des Gesanges” (Classics for Solo Singers) is a standing favorite of judges everywhere. For the more developed voice, choices abound in Mendelssohn 24 Songs (a personal favorite being “Hexenlied” for the student with a dramatic bent) and Mozart 12 Songs.

French is usually the most difficult. There are very few high school students who can sing French convincingly; therefore, it tends to impress the judges when done right! Recruit a French-speaking parent or colleague to help if you are not confident in your ability to get all of the sounds right. Songs like Mozart’s “Oiseaux, si tous les ans” and “Dans un bois solitaire” (Mozart 12 Songs) are excellent French choices for older high school students whose breath support has developed to the point where the tone is beautiful and flexible. For the student with excellent musical skills and interpretive ability, try something like “Il pleure dans mon couer” by Debussy (Pathways of Song, Vol. 3).

In general, it is important to know your student’s voice well before selecting contest music. Never choose a song for competition that includes notes outside of your student’s current comfortable range or phrases longer than he can comfortably sing. Remember, in an adjudication situation, we want the student to walk in feeling confident and competent, not worried about whether or not his voice will crack or if he will pass out from lack of oxygen! Also, pay special attention to the unique gifts of your student—whether that is dramatic prowess, the ability to “float” a tone, sheer size and magnitude, language skills, or exceptional musicality. Each student has something special to show off, and that is what we want the judges to see! Taking the time to research and discover the best song for your student will pay off in the long run, giving him or her a positive performance experience and the encouragement to keep on singing!

Compiling a Vocal Collection

Jay AlthouseBy Jay Althouse, Composer

In 1993, I compiled my first collection of vocal solos: Folk Songs for Solo Singers, Vol. 1. To be honest, my only motivation, at that time, was to find something to do as a break from writing and arranging choral music. Little did I know that Folk Songs for Solo Singers, Vol. 1 would go on to become Alfred Music’s all-time top selling vocal solo collection, and that I would compile 17 more vocal books over the next 20 years.

Some of the collections I simply compiled and edited, and for others I did all of the arrangements. Some were comprised of folk song arrangements, spirituals, or Christmas carols, and some were collections of arrangements of great American pop standards from the 1920s through the 1950s. One was a duet book and one a collection of sacred solos. And three, the Ready to Sing… series, are specifically designed for young and developing soloists.

As I look back on those 18 vocal solo collections over the past 20 years, I am proud of what we have put together at Alfred Music. I remember, when I was a high school senior, the difficulty my choral director and I had in finding vocal solos appropriate for my college audition. Today, vocal teachers have an abundance of books from Alfred Music to use with their students, not just by me, but also by other writers and arrangers such as Andy Beck, Mark Hayes, and Sally Albrecht.

My most recent collection, Songs of the British Isles for Solo Singers, includes some of the most beautiful and enchanting songs from the great vocal tradition of the British Isles. One of the most difficult things about putting this book together was deciding which songs to include; there are so many great ones.

Included are folk songs from England (“Scarborough Fair”), Wales (“The Ash Grove”), Ireland (“Danny Boy”), and Scotland (“The Water Is Wide”). Many of the titles have wonderful lyrics by fine poets, such as Robert Burns (“Flow Gently, Sweet Afton”) and Robert Louis Stevenson (“Skye Boat Song”). Two songs are appropriate for Christmas: “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” and “The Snow Lay on the Ground.” And a third, “Greensleeves” can be sung at holiday time or year round.

All of the songs in Songs of the British Isles for Solo Singers are what I call “singer’s songs.” That is, they sing beautifully, and almost effortlessly, allowing the vocalist to really make music.

I should say, however, that the final song in the collection, “The Blaydon Races,” is not what I would call beautiful. It’s a rousing, boisterous song, which tells the story of the horse races at Blaydon, a town near Newcastle in England, in 1862. It rained, and there was a horse-drawn bus crash and . . . well, you’ll just have to sing it to find out the rest of the story. “The Blaydon Races” is just plain fun to sing, and I’ve included a glossary of terms and phrases from the lyrics to help you follow the bus on its ride to the race track.

Whether you’re looking for audition material, study repertoire, or music that’s simply a pleasure for students to sing, you’re sure to find it with Alfred Music’s vocal solo collections.

Alfred Music’s Vocal Collections Arranged and/or Edited by Jay Althouse:
American Folk Songs for Solo Singers
Christmas for Solo Singers
Encores for Solo Singers
Folk Songs for Solo Singers, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Folk Songs for Two
Great American Songwriters for Solo Singers
International Folk Songs for Solo Singers
Love Songs for Solo Singers
Ready to Sing . . . Christmas
Ready to Sing . . . Folk Songs
Ready to Sing . . . Spirituals
Sacred Solos for All Seasons
Songs of Peace and Patriotism for Solo Singers
Songs of the British Isles for Solo Singers
Spirituals for Solo Singers
Standards for Solo Singers
Ye Shall Have a Song

The Nature of Jazz Singing

Michele Weirby Michele Weir, author The Jazz Singer’s Handbook

Jazz is a creative, interactive art form that requires finely-tuned listening skills and a spirit of spontaneity. The ultimate goal: to communicate (specifically, to communicate emotion through the text). Great jazz performances are those where the artist has imprinted their own personal “stamp” on a song, making their rendition unique. The only singer that made their career from sounding like Ella Fitzgerald was Ella Fitzgerald. Ultimately, after listening to and studying the great jazz vocal masters, you should sound like you.

The focus of a jazz singer’s performance is more on the singer than on the song itself. While the integrity of the song is certainly an important factor, it’s the artist’s interpretation of the song that is the true essence of jazz.

Great jazz singers communicate with a sense of soulful honesty when they sing. Rather than acting like they feel the story of the song, they seem to really feel the story of the song; you believe them. Even if the setting or storyline of a given song is not true for them personally, they are still able to give an honest portrayal of the emotion behind the scenario.

Thus, the primary mode of communication for a jazz singer is the meaningful delivery of the text. This is number one on the list of artistic priorities! The lyrics to a song are like a story. We want the audience to listen to our story and really hear its message.

(Excerpted from The Jazz Singer’s Handbook by Michele Weir, 00-22020 Book & CD, $19.95)

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Teaching the Individual

Susan JordanBy Susan Jordan
Voice Instructor, Stroudsburg, PA

“She takes each student along a personal journey.” – former student Anthony Nasto, graduate of the Hartt School of Music and member of the barbershop quartet Men in Black.

Since I established my voice studio in 1979, I’ve been privileged to spend time with many special people who have come to me to “learn to sing.” Most of these have been high school students since that seems to be a period when people become aware of the music inside that they want to share. I know that was true for me. I heard a Met broadcast at the age of 13 and was amazed, stunned, and awed by the wonderful sounds I heard. And I knew immediately I wanted to try and do that.

Every teacher who works with vocalists knows that what we do in the studio is just the beginning of each student’s journey. Our primary responsibility is to provide them with tools they can learn to use to unlock their voice; how well they succeed partly depends on how hard they are willing to work, and how much time and effort they will devote to one of my favorite words: practice. It is indeed a journey, and every student’s path is unique, because every voice is unique . . . which is what makes what we do so fascinating.

One of the first students who came to me exemplifies a path that very few students can follow. A 14-year-old high school sophomore when she began to study, she had a true and complete gift: a voice of exceptional natural beauty, and an innate sense of musicality. She almost immediately absorbed every concept I shared with her. Of course, with this ability, her voice blossomed and her singing was a joy not only to hear but to see as well. The love she experienced and could release through singing was very evident. Since she learned quickly to sing with ease, she was able to make music . . . the goal we have for all our students.

The path most students follow is generally not so smooth, as is evident in another high school sophomore’s story. Thanks to a very good cheerleading coach (yes, cheerleaders can also be singers!) she had a good understanding of using her breath correctly. There was a lot of promise in her voice but it was very far back, so obviously that was the challenge. It was slow going, but she was determined and we worked together on vowels, combinations of vowels and consonants, and forward focus. Then I gave her a song she fell in love with, and she was able to incorporate all the concepts we’d been working on . . . and music happened! From that point on it was smooth sailing, and she wound up as a vocal performance major at an excellent school.

One of the most important things I need to do as a teacher of young talent is to have a sense of each student as an individual. Knowing this girl is painfully shy or that boy is filled with insecurity means I need to help them develop the confidence to perform as well as teach them to use their voice correctly. With some students, I find I have to explain concepts in several different ways before I see the light go on! I always tell my students to ask questions if they don’t “get” what we’re trying to do. Picking up on visual and aural cues is important, but questions from the student are direct and cut to the chase.

As teachers we all have a set of exercises that seem to work well with the majority of our students. Sometimes the trick is to modify these, or to consider what else might work. Since singing involves some muscles that we can’t directly see, we often try different ways to find what imagery works best for a particular student. Moving jaw, shoulder, and neck tension to another part of the body where it’s a help rather than a hindrance can vary from simply walking around while singing to one of my favorites, facing the door and pressing with the hands against the frame while leaning forward. (I tell my students to try and push my house down.) This activity engages the intercostals and makes the student aware of how important muscles from the chest to the floor are for a singer. I’m sure all teachers have similar items in their bag of tricks.

Patience is a huge part of teaching teenagers. I have had more than one student who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. With these students, I find less talk and more action works best. Generally, focusing on one element at a time has been most successful. It’s not ideal but eventually we can put the pieces together and move forward. I constantly encourage these students to explain to me exactly what they are doing when they’ve been successful, and this helps them to retain the concept.

I’ve had students who were very, very serious about “learning to sing.” I appreciate their passion and determination, but these are the students I have to sometimes remind not to over think what they are doing. Singing is hard work, but it also needs to be a source of joy! Sometimes I will tell these kids to stop thinking, take a deep breath, love the music, and just SING.

I recently explained to one tremendously talented boy I have as a current student that I’m trying to provide him with the tools to share his soul through his music. That was a revelation for him. He has the same incredible gift of vocal beauty and musicality as the young woman I mentioned earlier. They come to us from time to time!

About Susan Jordan
After attending the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Susan Jordan moved with her family to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania in 1971. She established her voice studio in 1979 and has had students accepted into such schools as the Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Hartt School of Music, Westminster Choir College, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, and many other fine programs. Former students have performed on Broadway, in the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, on national tours of Broadway shows, and in regional theater. Some are also teaching either as school chorus directors or in private voice studios. Since 1984, she has directed some 80 high school and community theater musical productions. Currently, along with private teaching, she operates the music notesetting business established by her late husband, Jordan Music Engravers. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and was recently honored locally by being inducted into the East Stroudsburg Area School District Music Hall of Fame.
Please visit for more information.

How I Won Ms. Senior America 2012

By Elisabeth Howard

“And now ladies and gentlemen, the moment you all have been waiting for. The new Ms. Senior America 2012 is . . . Ms. California, Elisabeth Howard!” I was competing as Ms. Senior California with 34 other State Queens from all over the United States.

I performed “Sempre Libera” from the opera, La Traviata. I knew I would have to muster up every bit of my Vocal Power Technique. “Sempre Libera” was the first aria I had been given by my voice teacher at age 16, just before I was accepted to The Juilliard School in 1959. And here I am at age 71!

Although I won the hearts of the judges and the audience on this day, my journey to this performance was not always an easy one. While in my Master’s Program at Juilliard, I lost my voice—every singer’s greatest fear! I was teaching a minimum of 20 hours each week, was President of the Honor Society, and with the incorrect use of my voice, I strained my voice to the point of losing it. Fearing that my voice was damaged permanently and unwilling to live with this prognosis, I did extensive research to understand the “human singing mechanism.” As a result, I went on to develop the Vocal Power Singing Technique.

My first book, Sing!, (accompanied by audio recordings), was published in 1980 and was the first of its kind to teach non-classical singing. I was a pioneer, performing everything from commercial music and rock to jazz and musical theater. I have taught my Vocal Power Technique to pop, jazz, rock, and musical theater singers, as well as to voice teachers who wanted to know how to teach non-classical singing. I have traveled all over the world teaching workshops and leading master classes in 11 countries and 37 international cities.

Winning the Ms. Senior America crown was dependent on my voice. I had to knock it out of the ball park! How did I do it?

• Vocal Colors
• Agility—for the fast and high coloratura runs
• Pitch Accuracy
• Head Voice
• Chest Voice

I used my signature technique, the Diaphragmatic Vibrato, for all my sustained tones, especially for that high, sustained D-flat at the end of the aria. That final note brought the audience to its feet with deafening applause and bravas!

And now, ladies and gentlemen I’m here to tell you that everyone can sing! Your voice is an instrument, and you learn to play it just like any other instrument. Give yourself the gift of singing! My user-friendly instructional course, Sing!, is a self-contained package, perfect for your library shelf. For the price of one vocal lesson, you receive a 144-page book and four hour-long CDs, plus, if you wish, the hour-long Born to Sing! DVD (also available separately). The Vocal Power Method will get you to a level of singing you never dreamed possible. This step-by-step, singing method will change your life forever. I can honestly say that I am proof of the pudding!

About Elisabeth Howard . . .

Elisabeth Howard is on the voice faculty of Pepperdine University. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School, and has performed extensively in opera and music theater. She has given workshops and master classes in 11 countries and serves as Director of the Vocal Power Academy in Los Angeles. Among her many illustrious clients are Sting, The Police, Priscilla Presely, and Paige O’Hara (voice of Belle in the film Beauty and the Beast.)

Ms. Howard is the author of Sing!, co-author of Power Speech , American Diction for Singers, and the Born to Sing DVD, and author of The ABC’s of Vocal Harmony, all distributed by Alfred Music Publishing Co.

Click HERE for more information on Elisabeth Howard’s publications.