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From Anderson to Zaninelli: Audio Lessons for Classical Singing

Our exploration of audio instruction for singing in the NLS Music collection has one final stop: art song and opera! And who better to inspire us in our musical endeavors, particularly during African American History Month, than contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993)? In addition to being the first singer to record African American spirituals with a major American record label in 1923, she became the first black singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in 1955. Listen and be transported by this 1924 recording of Anderson singing “My Lord, what a mornin’,” courtesy of the National Jukebox. Log in to BARD or contact your local talking-book library to learn about talking books and braille books about Marian Anderson available from the NLS collection. You can also learn much more about Anderson’s musical life and legacy in three excellent blog posts that our colleagues here at the Library of Congress have written in recent years:

Portrait of Marian Anderson singing.

[Portrait of Marian Anderson singing]. Photographic print by Carl Van Vechten, Jan. 14, 1940. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c03734

Once you’ve learned the basics of healthy vocal production by using the audio lessons and courses that I listed in my first post of this series, you can use the NLS Music Section’s audio instruction offerings to familiarize yourself with the Western canon of art song as well as practice the songs you’re learning. In this post I’ll introduce you to the two series in our collection that will accompany you on your journey.

First, we have a remarkable series of nearly 200 lessons on individual art songs, including Italian arias, French chansons, and German lieder. Don’t worry: there are some English songs too! Each lesson includes a performance of the song, a reading of the lyrics for diction guidance, an English translation of the lyrics (when necessary), and a recording of the piano accompaniment by itself so that you can practice singing with it. Opera singer and educator Nico Castel, who passed away in 2015, provides instruction for all lessons in the series.

An easy way to browse all the lessons in this series using BARD or the NLS Voyager catalog is to search for “MusAcom,” which is the company that produced the series. You could also search for “Nico Castel.” As an example, this series has lessons on several songs from the collection of 24 (or, in recent editions, 28) Italian songs and arias that was compiled by Alessandro Parisotti in the 1880s but which many teachers use to this day. For certain songs, lessons are available for multiple vocal ranges. For example, a lesson on the aria “Per la gloria d’adorarvi,” by Giovanni Bononcini, is available for soprano, mezzo, tenor, and baritone voices.

In addition to these standard Italian arias, Nico Castel also provides lessons on four songs by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999), who was blind and composed in braille music code:

Okay, let’s say you’ve learned your songs and want to practice but your lovely pianist friend isn’t there to play with you. The NLS Music Section has you covered! Nico Castel’s lessons all include a piano accompaniment track you can use to practice, but we additionally have six collections of piano accompaniment tracks that you can use to practice your lesson or prepare for your performance:

If you’re curious about what else is in our music instruction collection, you can browse our Music Instruction Catalog on the NLS website, contact the Music Section to request large-print copy, or listen to the catalog in audio format on BARD (DBM03542) or on digital cartridge. If you don’t see what you’re looking for in the catalog, please contact the Music Section by phone (1-800-424-8567, option 2) or e-mail ([email protected]).

New BARD Additions – January 2019

This post is an overview of the braille music books added to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) over the past month.

Hoffman’s Tales

This blog post highlights some of the pieces in the NLS Music collection inspired by the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann, who was born on this day in 1776.

New BARD Additions – December 2018

This blog gives an overview of the digitized material added to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) in December 2018.

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: H (Part 2 – Hibbler, Albert George “Al”)

A brief glimpse at the life of Al Hibbler and some materials relating to him in the NLS Music Collection.

New BARD Additions: September 2018

It’s the last week of September, and time to list some recent braille music acquisitions. You may call to request hard copies, or you may download them from the BARD site. Sorry, no recordings this week, but we hope there will be some very soon. Cello  Brahms, Johannes. Sonata No. 1, Op. 38 (BRM07814) Choral […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: G (Part 1 – Gershwin, George)

This week, we will take a look at American composer George Gershwin. George Gershwin was one of the first American composers to use both popular and classical idioms. Years before his most famous compositions were penned, he worked on Tin Pan Alley as a song plugger—that is, someone who was hired to play and promote […]

Happy Birthday Samuel Coleridge-Taylor!

British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born on August 15th in 1875. One of the more popular composers in England and the United States during the turn of the 20th century, he composed many works for choir, piano, and larger instrumental ensembles; however, his works are seldom performed today. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London to […]

New BARD Additions: July 2018

Read this blog and discover new materials, recorded and braille, now available from the NLS Music Section. Audio Materials All of the following are productions of Bill Brown. Banjo American Pie.  Teaches this Don McLean song without the use of music notation.  (DBM03915) Piano Bless the Broken Road. Teaches how to play “Bless the Broken […]