Some teachers advertise themselves as teaching "classic singing" and others as "pop singing". My child is currently learning "pop" but I have discovered a highly experienced "classic" teacher that is also geographically placed much more conveniently. We are not far with learning yet and we have no very obvious preference, so I am thinking about the possible switching.

Are "pop" and "classic" studies significantly different or is some part of the obtained knowledge transferable? How difficult is to switch between these two ways of singing later?

For instance, if to learn singing the Beatles "Let It Be" from the book I have - there is a melody line written on the scales (there are also piano chords as well). Is this significantly different from singing something more classical?

  • I could be wrong, but I think it has more to do with the style and approach to singing than the genre. Apr 1, 2014 at 11:56
  • @TimSeguine You are correct, but often the genre is the main influence on style and approach.
    – Poben
    Apr 1, 2014 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


I don't mean to sound like I am belittling Pop music, but Classical music is always more complicated, and usually more difficult to sing/play. The differences are merely due contrasting styles, not musical inferiority. I was trained as a chorister in a church choir but listen to large amounts of pop music, and that is where my knowledge is from.

Possibly one of the main things that your daughter won't learn if she studies pop music is Italian words - these are very rarely used in pop and so if she attempts to transfer from pop to classical after having spent too long learning pop, she will be quite behind in terms of the musical language she should be able to understand.

Also, the style of voice and diction required for classical music is different to pop music, in that classical music is far stricter as far as annunciation is concerned; pop musicians have far more flexibility and therefore often sound sloppier (from a classical perspective). Another example of differences Classical singers are taught to sing each note individually (unless specified otherwise by the composer), whereas pop vocalists often 'slide' between notes. This can be a difficult habit to break for a pop singer who wants to sing classical, but not a difficult ability to develop for a classical singer who wants to sing pop.

Essentially, if your daughter wants to be able to sing classical and pop, then she should learn classical. This will also assist her in theoretical studies of classical music, if she chooses to learn about the theory behind the music she sings.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    Opera especially is much more difficult than pop music - you have to sing at the same volume, but without a microphone.
    – rlms
    Jan 3, 2015 at 21:55
  • Actually, portamento - the deliberate slide between notes - Is one aspect of the operatic style that I find irritating. At least they do it on purpose!
    – Laurence
    Dec 30, 2018 at 12:25

There's an in-between style - let's call it 'Musical Theatre singing' (though it isn't confined to the stage) where vowels are pure, diction is clear and the paramount aim is to convey the information in the lyrics. It's not 'all about the voice' or 'all about the attitude', it's 'all about the song'. This is the type of teaching I recommend, if you can find it. The sort of teaching that takes If I Loved You from Carousel and demands a beautiful tone on the vowel of 'loved' followed by just the right amount of final 'd' (because 'If I loved you' and 'If I love you' mean two quite different things).

Record producers used to do this. Maybe the Beatles came into the studio naturally equipped with the almost theatrical clarity of diction we hear on their recordings, but I doubt it. And there's no point in a song like Strawberry Fields or Penny Lane if you can't hear the words.

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