By Dianne Legro
Patti Abate of WATD summed it up perfectly during our interview on her My Generation show, as we talked about my American Songbook class at South Shore Conservatory (SSC). “It’s all about having fun, keeping yourself engaged with something you love or always wanted to try, and continuing to grow at any age!” she said.
Whenever I connect with people who are learning something new or practicing something they love, I am uplifted and inspired by the sparkle and light that shines from their eyes. It is especially inspiring to get to know and work with American Songbook students as they explore, grow, try a new song, or perfect one they know. I just love sharing in the joy and fun they experience in this process. Last year we had so many laughs and shared successes each week that I can hardly wait to start the next Songbook class on September 19 at 6 pm. The eight-week class meets on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 pm, and I invite anyone who has a love of singing to join us!
Those who join the class can expect a true masterclass setting where each singer is coached, one to one, by our accompanist – the wonderful Mark Goodman – and me in front of the other students. This method allows student singers learn from each other and enjoy mutual praise, encouragement and support. Those with particular songs already in mind are encouraged to bring them in, so that we might find the right key for their success. I also suggest and provide songs from music I know will be a good fit for the student’s voice.
American Songbook repertoire has something for everyone. These beloved songs have the effect of engaging deep feelings, memories and sentiments on both the audience and the performer. Up tempo or slow ballad, they run the gamut of love (lost, found or searching for) and other topics with humor, wit playfulness and elegance.
American Songbook students have shared many anecdotes about the benefits of participation in this class. One student wanted to share how much the breathing exercises for singing he learned had helped him improve a lifelong health issue in his lungs. He is absolutely thrilled with the measurable improvement. Another student, new to singing, joined the class because it was on his bucket list. “Well, why wait, there’s no time like now!” he said. In addition to having fun, he is feeling like a confident singer and thoroughly enjoyed singing in two of our recitals! A former Navy officer, he generously compared the class with the best training he had ever experienced in his career of high level trainings and he expressed his appreciation for the excellence in teaching he receives in class. Another student shared that when she sings she forgets “the slings and arrows of outrageous aging. And the joy! Oh the joy!!”
Mark Goodman recently commented to a fellow colleague, “As the semester went on I saw progress from all the singers in the class in terms of vocal ability and confidence. Dianne is equally comfortable working with students of all ages.”
Those interested in keeping themselves engaged because they love singing or it’s something they’ve always wanted to try, are strongly encouraged to join us this fall. Visit sscmusic.org/american-songbook/ for complete information on registration, schedule and pricing, or call 781-749-7565, x10. South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.
Dianne Legro teaches American Songbook at South Shore Conservatory. She is an award-winning soprano who sings classical, Broadway and American Songbook classics.