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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: 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 […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: E (Part 1 – Ellington, Duke)

Continuing our series of American composers from A to Z, we come to the letter E. Personally, I can think of no better example than Duke Ellington. I consider him to be one of the first great quintessential “American” composers of his time, who wrote music in a true American idiom, rather than copying Western […]

Carnegie Hall of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 2

This is the second half of a two-part post on Nashville’s musical history and related books in the NLS Music Collection. Read the first part here: Athens of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 1. Nashville’s most famous music venue, the Ryman Auditorium, was completed in 1892 and was originally a church called the Union […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: D (Part 2 – Davis, “Blind” John and Dranes, Arizona)

Blind John Davis Blind John Davis was born in Mississippi in 1913, but moved to Chicago with his family at a young age.  He lost his sight shortly thereafter at age 9. He began to learn the piano as a teen, and later became a regular session musician for famous blues record producer Lester Melrose […]

A Gem in the Music Appreciation Collection

One of the most nerve-racking events I ever experienced as a music student was participating in master classes. I remember one class in particular vividly; the feeling of slight panic as the master class teacher repeated for the fourth time, “no, not like that, try again.” I could hear the audience shifting in their seats […]

It’s Summertime!

Now that the hockey season is officially over, there is only one major sport that is capturing the nation’s attention: baseball! I find that baseball is synonymous with summer, as it’s been played in the summer months for generations. I’m sure I’m not alone recalling warm summer evenings spent gathered around the radio listening to […]

New Titles from Bill Brown

For this week’s blog, the staff of the Music Section decided it would be a good idea to update our readers on some of our newly added titles from Bill Brown. These books are not on BARD. However, they are all available on digital cartridge. If you see something that interests you, please get in touch […]

And For Your Listening Pleasure From the NLS Music Section

Everybody knows someone who gets a lot of mileage out of limited knowledge. People with this talent sound like experts and can dominate conversation at a gathering for 10-15 minutes until they have to leave to “refresh their drink” or to “catch up with a friend.” Well, I am here to offer you a chance […]

Over the Rainbow, and More: Part 2

This is a continuation of my survey of songs recently added to the LOC’s National Recording Registry, indicating where they may be found in the NLS music collection. (Note that Over the Rainbow was covered in last week’s blog.) Puttin’ on the Ritz Harry Richmond’s 1929 recording of this Irving Berlin song was added to […]