Choosing appropriate repertoire by Mark Crayton

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Mark Crayton, friend and colleague of mine and Professor of Music at Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts has these tips for choosing good repertoire:

Choosing Repertoire

It is important to remember that your goal is to have a great audition experience and sing well. Audition panels are not going to be impressed with repertoire that is too advanced for young singers. Instead they are going to be impressed with well-prepared, well thought-out and well-sung performances.

To help you reach this goal, there are several things to think about when looking at music (always with your teacher’s help and approval).

  • Choose songs with shorter phrases.
  • Choose songs that have plenty of spots for healthy breathing.
  • Choose songs that have more of a middle tessitura/range. Stay away from songs that are too high or too low.
  • Remember that songs with quicker melodies are often easier to sing well than slower songs.
  • Do not sing opera arias unless you are truly an advanced student. If you do sing an opera aria, it should be a carefully selected aria that is technically appropriate for your skill level.
  • Remember that songs with lots of melismas (or runs) help develop agility and flexibility. But they should only be approached if your teacher feels that your technique is ready.
  • English songs can be sung easily and beautifully. If you are a beginner, try to keep the songs more in your middle range.
  • Italian songs are great for the beginning singer and for more “lyric” voices.
  • If you have been studying for a while and your beginning technique is solid, German lieder is a wonderful way to discover new dramatic colors in your voice.
  • If you are given a choice about a third language, consider that German is usually more easily sung than French which has many nasal and lip vowels that may be confusing. 


Countertenor, Conductor and Director, Mark Crayton is hailed by critics and audiences for the pure beauty of his voice, his expressive and insightful interpretations, his natural musicality and his crowd-pleasing productions! Winner of the Classical Singer International Vocal Competition Professional Division, Mr. Crayton performs on concert stages and in opera houses throughout the United States and Europe (too many to list here??

As a voice teacher, Mr. Crayton has been a full-time faculty member at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts since 2009. He was adjunct faculty at CCPA between 2004 and 2009. He has taught masterclasses at Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute, in Viterbo, Italy, Montecatinni Terme, Italy, London, U.K. at The Hap'ning Place, at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, as well as in Milwaukee, Wi, Iowa City, IA, and many venues around Chicago (many for the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing - NATS).

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