By: Rosanne Simunovic
As i mentioned last week, I am presently on vacation for the month of March, so I may miss a couple of Vocal Masterclass submissions.
However, this week, I did manage to watch the Top 12 performances and overall the singers were on par with what happened last week. Pretty much still trying to find their groove.
Also, just an aside, but would it be so hard to flash the names of the songs across the screen so the viewer knows exactly what the singer is performing? In the video intro, the singers mumble the name of the number and then Ryan Seacrest does not consistently introduce the numbers before the singers hit the stage. So frustrating!
Anyway, let us move forward to my Vocal Masterclass evaluations and I welcome your commentary and suggestions after the read!
Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in (last name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome. To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.
Strengths: Ben – another country boy! Love that Southern charm!
You established a peaceful ambience at the beginning and throughout this song, even when the vocals became more powerful.
And, thank you for keeping that mouth round – this allowed your voice to project in the right way. Vocally, it was a strong technical performance and, yet, I still felt that the expressive element was very well conveyed.
Congratulations Ben. Good work!
Critique: Ben – be careful not to raise your head when you sing through your upper vocals. This constricts your throat – even if you are supporting from the diaphragm. Think over your upper notes and never “reach” for them. Sing over them and hit them down – as you would when serving a volley ball. This visual is a strong one and it will help you – I promise!
And bend your knees when you sing with a louder dynamic in your upper range. Squeeze your butt as well. It really helps and no one will know the better.
Also, keep that head voice central to your vocal mix. I can hear it amid the meaty vocals but I need to hear a bit more clarity and transparency in your voice. It seemed to me that you were on the borderline of pushing your sound so I caution you to remember that less is more. And the diaphragm rules as does a freely focused voice.
You are on the right track – I can see it in the shape of your mouth alone. I just want to caution you not to veer from this.
Good luck, Ben!
Strengths: C.J. – this was a solid performance and a great song choice.
You are becoming increasingly more comfortable on stage. I loved watching you open up to the audience – it shows that you are in time with them and wanting to establish strong rapport with them. Always a good thing, C.J.
Critique:C.J. – you need to work on establishing a stronger center to your voice and presence. As I have mentioned to others this week, a HORIZONTAL mouth position, tense throat, little to no diaphragmatic support are all causes for disaster.
A circular mouth position is key here, especially when you develop the technique of focusing and gluing your vocal sound to the pure vowels within your words. Do. It sustain through all the syllables – only the first one – and avoid grabbing all the vowels within the diphthongs.
If you adopt the idea of singing like a Brit – this will help you combat half the battle. The other half is strengthening and supporting your voice via your diaphragm with absolute certainty and conviction.
Your voice lacked presence because the technical skills were just not there.
And there was a sameness to this performance – I was waiting for a “moment” in this song and it never happened. This a repetitive melody and, when faced with this, you have to tap into your creative side to make it interesting to the listener.
I also felt there was little nuance in your voice – everything sounded too linear. So work hard to combat these problems and you will emerge a stronger artist as a result.
Good luck C.J.
Strengths: Jena –before I start my evaluation of this week’s performance, I have to say I loved the camera work as you walked from backstage to onstage. It was very neat and accentuated what you, as a singer, experiences when walking on stage towards your designed spot. Kind of mind-blowing actually! This explains the nerves that some of the singers are experiencing!
However, in your case, if you were nervous, I did not sense it. This was a wonderfully performed number. I loved how you physically, as well as vocally, embraced the song. You were strong rhythmic presence on that stage and felt the music with every part of you being.
I love your voice – it is technically proficient and artistically you are not afraid to take risks with this or any number.
Also, visually, I appreciated the fact that you moved away from the microphone stand, drawing yourself closer to your audience. And you did so flawlessly without losing touch with the music.
Your voice had presence and was beautifully centred. And you exuded a confident and welcoming presence on stage. Beautiful charisma. I have to say I loved the “look” this week, Jena! Much improved.
Critique: Jena – keep striving to select perfect song choices. Up until now, you have been superb at this task so stay true to your artistic vision and never stray.
Other than this advice, this is all I can offer you at this point because, vocally, this was a slam dunk, m’lady! Congratulations!!
Strengths: Caleb – oh what a performance! Mr. Rock N’ Roll! You are a pro of the highest degree. You really understand the importance of establishing strong communicative energy with your audience.
Your voice has a meaty substance – which I love for this genre of music. And you project your voice so very well. There is a strong diaphragmatic presence in your vocal delivery. Bravo!
I was happy to see that circular mouth position and the manner in which you glued your vocal sound to the purest of vowels. There is a strong technical presence in your delivery which I applaud and celebrate!
You moved with ease and energy throughout the stage and really engaged your audience.
Great, great work, Caleb! Loved it!
Critique: Caleb – I have little to critique in this performance.
My only concern is that, up to this point, you have been singing numbers that require high energy and, at some point, we need to hear something different from you – like a ballad. It will expose another side to your artistry, which is very important as you move forward in this competition.
Good luck and good work, Caleb!
Strengths: Jessica – accompanied by your guitar, you exuded a beautiful and relaxed presence on stage this week.
I love your voice very much. You have a bright timbre and, with proper support, it can project easily and cleanly.
I also loved the fact that you stopped playing the guitar at the end, and used your arms and body to express the lyrics. This added a nice visual dimension to your performance.
Good work, Jessica.
Critique: Jessica – you have to work on you mouth formation. Your pitch was unsteady and I felt it was due to the placement of your mouth.
The circular mouth position will add depth and uniformity to your voice. You have a very bright voice and you need to work on developing a richer sound. The correct mouth position – CIRCULAR – , coupled with stronger diaphragmatic support will assist you in this respect.
Also, do not be afraid to sing the lyrics as you would speak them. This song required more energy and verve and, for me, it was too linear and one dimensional. Practice speaking your lyrics – expressively – and then apply the same level of nuance to your songs when you sing them.
Good luck, Jessica
Strengths: M. K. – oh how I love Train and Drops Of Jupiter. So, I was intrigued to hear your individual take on this song.
You added a folksy vibe to this song that became more complex as it moved along. You were more loose this week and, vocally, slightly more efficient.
Good work, M.K.
Critique: M.K. – you need to work on your stage craft. You tend to create very little space around you and, in reality, you need to use the HUGE space allotted to you on the stage. It is like you are singing in a box! You need to sing out of the box and move away from it – even for just a small distance.
Embrace your audience and conquer your fears. You are on this show for a reason. There is inherent talent in your being so become strong and purposeful when you stage a performance, okay? Okay!!
Each week I see improvement. Small increments, yes, but you are moving forward. I take that as a good sign.
Also, work on solidifying your diaphragmatic breathing skills so your voice sounds more resonant and charismatic.
Good luck, M.K.
Strengths: Emily – this was a fabulous song choice. Very smart song choice! Good for you.
And you embodied the Spanish inspired flow of this number. You moved and you grooved with professional ease. You were a playful presence on that stage.
Also, throughout this song, your voice never, ever faltered. This is what I mean when I say that singers must perfectly balance the choreographic and vocal elements in a number. You managed to do so without compromising your vocal delivery. Your voice sounded secure and centred throughout!
Excellent work, Emily! Brava!
Critique: Emily – you are crItique free. This was a excellent showcase. Kudos!
Strengths: Alex – armed with your trusty guitar, you gave a very good performance this week. You were more open and expressive in your demeanor this week. Good for you.
Critique: Alex – your tone was very problematic for me. You have a very nasal and constricted timbre to your voice.
There are many reasons for this.
First of all your mouth was stuck in a horizontal position throughout your entire showcase. This created tension in your voice, encouraging you to constrict your throat muscles and lower your soft palate – and this created the nasality in your tone.
Banish the horizontal spread of the mouth and, instead, form a circle. Just try it. Hold a note with a horizontal spread and, while holding the note, slowly adopt a circular position in your mouth. Hear the difference? The sound is more pure, more centered and is enjoying the addition of natural head voice.
Second of all, because of all the tension in your upper body and, in particular, your facial and neck muscles, this distanced you from the correct diaphragmatic support. And this is when we heard problems with intonation and breathing.
You really need to work on the technical approach to your singing voice or will continue to ensue further and more serious problems down the line.
Good luck, Alex
Strengths: Dexter – as I said last week, I love your Southern charm so much. I think I am a “belle” at heart. Ha!
Performance-wise, this was as real as it gets! You are country artist and you delivered a very strong, very honest country performance.
You also have a very meaty sound in your upper range that was accentuated through the melodic range of this song. The key choice was just right. Any lower and you would have landed in trouble!
Good work, Dexter!
Critique: Dexter – again this week, you allowed your lower range to disappear. You need to properly support and focus your lower range.
Also, as much as your upper range had punch and purpose, I felt that, like so many others this week, the vocal sound was very strident and tense. That mouth position was horizontal rather than vertical and, as a result, I felt that we lost a great deal of inherent beauty in your head voice. There was far too much chest voice in your vocal mix and you need to work at balancing these two elements.
Relaxation in your upper body combined with diaphragmatic support for every level of your vocal and dynamic range will achieve all this – but this will require work and effort on your part.
Are you up for it? I hope so Dexter! Good luck!
Strengths: Majesty – I love this song so, so much. You don’t know! I was squealing when I realized you were singing this number. Your voice and presence was the perfect vehicle for this song.
You gave a heartfelt performance of this song and, though technically not as proficient as last week, it was still a good, perhaps valiant, showcase. At the very least, you made an attempt to change the mood and ambience from last week’s performance and I congratulate you for this.
Good work, Majesty
Critique: Majesty – you need to work at eliminating the chest voice from your upper voice. Instead of pushing your voice to the front, rather think of releasing your voice – like a butterfly floating on air -via the diaphragm.
Your performance last week was quite superior to this one so it had me a little perplexed this week. I think the slower tempo accentuated all the flaws in your vocal delivery – the faulty breathing, the presence of far too much chest voice in your upper register, the lack of creative phrasing, the higher lack of absolute control and support in your voice when singing at a slower, sustained tempo.
You need to work on developing control when singing a song with a slower tempo. Glue your voice to the pure vowels within the words, thus establishing a cleaner, centred and seamless vocal sound throughout your range.
And relax your jaw, keeping your mouth round. This will open and relax your throat muscles which are now impeding the liberated projection of your voice. And, it will encourage you to add more head voice in your vocal mix.
Of course, all of this advice assumes that the diaphragmatic muscles are working efficiently and consistent. Support from the diaphragm is integral and cannot be minimized or forgotten.
Also, you need to pull back when moving toward a louder dynamic in your higher vocal range. Due to your nerves or perhaps lack of preparation, you had a tendency to over compensate. Do not allow your voice to go there. Only sing the forte passages as strongly as you can produce them in a technically solid manner.
Good luck, Majesty!
Strengths: Malaya – I was so happy to see you at the piano. Singer – pianists always intrigue me, mainly because I happen to be one. Ha!
This was a great, great gospel performance.
And right off the bat, I loved the visual and dynamic aspects of this performance – the fact that you became more energetic as the song moved along and stood up in the latter half of the song, moving with confidence toward the audience.
There was a very well-paced, well-rehearsed performance, very expressive and purposeful!
Great work, Malaya!
Critique: Malaya – you need to work on lessening the chest voice in your upper register and tapping into your head voice.
Head voice adds clarity, beauty and precision to your upper range. In this song performance, I felt there was too much push when you powered through your upper vocals.
It was really too bad because I felt the first part of this song was just beautiful. The quieter portion of this song was gorgeous – I felt that, in an important way, you connected more believably with the listener.
It is a balancing act, Malaya, so make sure that you do not get over-pumped when working up to a louder and more passionate dynamic. There is no need for this. Use your voice properly and the microphone, along with your physical expressiveness, will do the rest.
If you allow the diaphragm to guide and focus your vocal sound, you will come to enjoy a stronger sense of security in your performances. Your voice grows with you – always remember that! Your vocal cords are muscles and they will develop, via the proper the technique, with time and maturity and practice.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the complexity of your performance this week. You are challenging yourself and I applaud this! Brava!
Strengths: Sam – you looked way too comfortable playing guitar, surrounded by girls. I love it! You gave a pleasant performance and I loved your look and presence very much.
You have a naturally beautiful voice that, although not technically proficient, is still lovely to hear and appreciate.
Good work, Sam!
Critique: Sam – you need to connect, Connect, CONNECT. All those girls where looking at you and you did not establish eye contact with any of them. Many performers can connect when on the stage and here you were, surrounded by adoring fans, and there was little to no connection.
You looked so tentative and distracted when you sang and as a result, the song held little meaning for you and for us.
This is not a road you want to continue on – you need to expressively connect with your lyrics and then your voice will sound more dynamic and nuanced.
Also, once you become more expressive, your voice will have presence and vitality.
Good luck as you prepare for next week’s show, Sam!