Singing Like a Ballerina

Gertrude Stookey, a 6th grader in her third year at Little Opera, recently won 2nd place in her middle school science fair for making an intriguing comparison: Do singers talk like ballerinas walk? Can you recognize the characteristics in a singer’s voice that distinguishes him or her as a professional in that field the way you can tell a ballerina by her physical posture and poise?

Using a spectrogram application on her iPad to record the speaking voices of 9 female singers and 9 female non-singers, Gertrude was able to measure and “photograph” the differences between them. She learned that there are unique overtones present in the voice of a person who uses it as an instrument versus someone who doesn’t. Essentially, singers occupy a fuller aural spectrum and reach higher “partials,” or regions of their normal speaking voice, than non-singers.

It’s a beautiful phenomenon, and certainly one that makes sense. When you develop a part of yourself — physical attribute, talent or craft — you are strengthening a tangible thing, something others can perceive in you. I’d like to think our students walk around with a little something extra, too, because of their experiences at Little Opera. An added spring to their step, a melody on their lips, and a mind that makes connections.

Singers and Ballerinas