American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 11 Performances

By: Rosanne Simunovic

Before we begin, one reader wrote and suggested that I write separate Vocal Masterclass articles for each singer, so that the comments for each contestant could remain separate from the rest.

I did fully intend to do this, beginning with the Top 11; however, with further thought, I realized that, because of the layout and design of this blog site and other logistic factors, this was not going to be feasible at this time.

I will, however, implement this format when we reach the Top 6 performance show. Until then, please make sure that you identify the singer by name when posting your comments.

The British Invasion, with Peter Noone and Lulu as mentors, proved to be a great theme this week. I thought that every singer excelled by varying degrees. A great deal was at stake –most notably, their inclusion into the coveted Top 10.

Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in (first name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.

Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson,
Chris Sligh, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato
Jordin Sparks, Lakisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle,
Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar, Stephanie Edwards

Blake Lewis: “Time Of The Season” by the Zombies

Strengths: Blake – I loved loved loved this song and the arrangement behind this superb performance. Once again, your arranging skills weaved and worked its magic by transforming this great classic into a current and contemporary sound. However, what was so great is that you still maintained the original melodic structure of this song, while mixing a subtle beat box rhythm into the harmonic structure. The blend of sustained singing and beat boxing was absolutely perfect. Good for you!

This performance was beautiful in its simplicity and your performing style appeared effortless, yet obviously extremely well rehearsed. You initiated some great choreographic elements that flowed rhythmically and subtly throughout this showcase. Nothing looked out of place. It was a very current, well- formulated number.

You are an extremely intelligent performer, Blake and appear to be a very focused and conscientious young musician who is striving to achieve great success as a distinctly creative artist.

Critique: Blake – you are a wonderful performer and I applaud you for refining your stage skills. You are entertaining to watch, a breath of fresh air. However, you must continue to work on adding more presence to your vocal sound.

As I said last week, you must continue to develop dimension to your vocal sound. I think what is happening is that you are approaching your sustained vocal sound with the same technique you use when beat boxing. You are vocalizing from the mouth and throat area, as you do when you beat box and then transferring this process to your sustained singing.

You have to realize that the pure voice needs the powerful support that comes from the diaphragmatic breathing muscles. Also, when you sing, your mouth is less involved with the process, as your vocal masque (your face) must stay relaxed and open, thus allowing you to access the diaphragmatic breathing muscles with more consistency and assurance. Indeed, the mouth must move to articulate the consonants, but it must do so as a springboard to the vowels within your lyrics. The vowels are important to the sustained flow of the melodic line.

Grab those vowels and work on implementing a cohesive blend of chest and head voice throughout your range. And find that vibrato. It seems that you and Haley misplaced it along the way to the Top 12. (smile). Remember, this element, when used correctly, lends a distinctive sound to your vocal timbre.

However, all in all, this was an overall very satisfying performance and I feel that you are becoming increasingly comfortable on stage.

Also, looking into my crystal ball, I visualize you performing an a cappella number, allowing your rhythmic beat – boxing skills to act as percussion for your sustained singing. Now, that sounds like a plan and would be an American Idol first!

Share your comments about Blake’s performance

Blake Edward’s Idolforums.Com Masterclass Discussion

About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

24 Responses to “American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 11 Performances”

  1. Once again, I appreciate all of your comments as it helps me understand what I’m seeing/hearing on TV. I do have one question that I’m not sure you can answer but figured i would ask anyway. Regarding Chris R., are you able to tell where he centers his voice within his mouth (i.e. towards the top of his mouth, in the back of his throat, etc.) and if so, should he be centering it somewhere else to help alleviate that nasal quality. Personally, I love his voice, and while I hear some nasal quality every once in a while it isn’t as bad as Ace last year. I’m just trying to figure out where a voice should be centered before it becomes too nasal yet doesn’t become too buried in the throat.


  2. Hi Jesse:

    Chris R. is presently focusing his voice toward the back of his inner mouth – close to his throat -the reason being that he is not allowing his diaphragm muscles to propel and place his voice behind his facial features.

    If he would do this, the sound would have more presence – plus, he has to maintain a circular mouth on all the vowels to maintain a consistently smooth vocal sound throughout his range.

    In short, he needs more lower body exertion when he sings and must keep the throat open and soft palate elevated. Then, the nasal quality would disappear.


  3. Thanks for explaining why Chris sounded so nasal. I hope he takes your advice and fixes his sound because it is annoying. Being next to last this week should give him a wake up call. He won’t attract new fans and may lose fans if he doesn’t tone up. If he does, he could be in the top five or six. If he doesn’t, he will be gone.


  4. I really love reading your critiques each week. You do a great job of highlighting the positive qualities of each performer and performance, and I enjoy that a lot. They should give you a call to come help those contestants out!

    P.S. My favorite is Blake, and I always enjoy reading what you say about him most.


  5. Annie:

    Hard to know if Chris can accomplish this change in his vocal technique. It’s quite and adjustment and old habits die hard. Time will tell!


  6. Jess – thank you for your kind comments. I love Blake as well. He is an exceptional musician.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  7. Your column is really helpful to the novice listener who has no vocal training. I only have my instincts to tell me if I like someone or not. From the beginning, I’ve enjoyed Stephanie, however, I didn’t think she sounded as good this week as in the previous weeks, so this just proves that you can’t afford an off week at this stage of the competition (unless, of course, you already have a huge fan base). I’ve been a big fan of Melinda, Lakisha, and Blake since the very beginning. And the past two weeks, Jordin is winning me over as well. At this point in the competition, it is too early to make a prediction about the final two, but I will continue to watch for your columms to help me see if my instincts are right.
    P.S. I always enjoyed reading your comments over at GrayCharles last year too!!! I’m going to see Taylor on tour in three weeks. As much as I will love seeing Taylor the musician and performer too, I hope he slows down enough in concert to actually sing as he did sometimes on AI–for instance, Something, You are so Beautiful, In the Ghetto. I Love this part of Taylor too in addition to the “going to church” Taylor.
    Keep up the good work, Masterclass Lady!!!


  8. Were we listening to the same person? The S man (since I can’t remember how to spell his name) was just terrible. From his phoney rocker attitude to his inexcusably lame dancing. I really had to hit mute half way through the song.


  9. Tt- It’s all about being as positive as possible. He’s only 17 and is very green. Give him credit at least for taking a risk


  10. Elaine: Thank you for your kind commments. Like you, I have no clear cut favorite, but Jordin and Blake and Lakisha are really very strong performers and, I feel, will only get better.

    Blake, in particular, is improving every week. Lakisha and Jordin were both strong performers from the very beginning.

    Keep up the Taylor love. I know I am, although I do confess thta I have not had time to chat over at GC! Will get there eventually.


  11. Thanks for the clarification MasterClassLady. I always love reading these critiques and then watching/listening the next week with a more critical eye/ear. I love Blake and Chris R. and I hope they both do really well in the competition. I feel like the two of them are the first true male pop singers the show has ever had so I hope they last a while.


  12. Am I the only one who is finding the singers in this season to be much, much less interesting than in previous seasons?



  13. matt – the season is lacking personality. Say what you want about Taylor Hicks, but he made the show exciting and entertaining to watch last season.

    Plus Kellie Pickler was a riot!

    This year – generally the singers are very good, but just really intense. Give them time to emerge as “personalities”


  14. I kind of agree with Matt – this season I am not finding anyone with the kind of “magic” that there has been in past seasons. I didn’t start watching Idol until Season 2 – I even went and saw the tour that year – I loved many of those contestants. Clay Aiken to me still has the most stellar male voice in all the competitions – he’s amazing.

    Season 3 was not that impressive to me – Season 4 though had Bo and Carrie and Constantine (grin). Carrie is the whole package, she’s beautiful, and talented, and doing so well in her career post-idol.

    Season 5 had the most unique talents – and I agree about Taylor. He has music embedded into his soul and is pure entertainment. Plus Chris Daughtry has done pretty well for himself too! Lots and lots of fun last season.

    This year although I like several of the singers – my top 4 right now are Melinda, Jordin, Blake and LaKeisha – none of them really are showing the kind of “magic” that I’d like to see.

    I remember when, in season 2, I heard Clay sing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” on the wildcard show. I got goosebumps listening to him sing – he has that “magic”. I’ve seen him perform live several times and he’s amazing.
    I’ve seen Kelly Clarkson as well and she’s so much fun and has lots of talent – wish I hadn’t missed Season 1.

    Masterclasslady – does any one male and/or female singer really stand out for you from any season??? Just curious! 🙂 I look forward to your critiques each week and truly hope the contestants have a way to read them and take your advice!


  15. Hi Terry:

    Let’s give these singers time. We have yet to see their true personalities and that is where the problem lies re the lack of magic.

    Chris Sligh was trying to be jovial with his “Fro Patrol” chant last week – it made me laugh and it also made me realize that this is what is missing from the show_ the personal dynamics.

    I have so many favorites from every season. I think the only person that I hold really close to my heart is Season Three competitor – John Stevens.

    The courage and dignity he maintained in the face of intolerable ridicule and hate was something I will never forget.

    He is now at the Berkeley School of Music or Boston Conservatory in Boston (can’t remember which one) developing his musical talent under excellent and supportive musical mentors who will guide him to attain the wonderful career he so deserves.


  16. “Carrie is the whole package, she’s beautiful, and talented, and doing so well in her career post-idol.”

    After seeing her latest appearance on the show, does anyone else think it looks like she has developed an eating disorder?


  17. Carrie’s appearance shocked me. Her arms looked so thin and her face was drawn.

    I really hope she has supportive people in her life that have her best interests at heart.


  18. Hi masterclasslady,

    I’d like to contact you about adding your site to my blogroll, but I didn’t see a contact email address for you.

    Please contact me at:



  19. I’m way behind on reading you this week! I loved Blake, what incredible talent! He really could sell that remake. I think Jordin and Melinda and Blake all have a special spark and they are so different from each other! Sanjaya should be gone by now but I heard that someone is encouraging voting him to stay because he isn’t so good. I would hate to think that is true, because all though I think he needs to leave, it could really destroy him at 17 to find out he only stayed because people thought he was bad and are laughing at him.


  20. MasterclassLady,

    I have another question. In almost every critique you mention that the singer should have a round mouth on all of the vowels in order to sustain a nice tone. Is it possible to have too round of a mouth whenever you sing? If so, what would that sound like?

    Also, going back to Season 4 (and I have read those critiques but would like a little more clarification) you commented that Mikalah Gordon had great Bel Canto technique. However, Mikalah was very hard to understand when she sang and her voice sounded as if it was all in her nose or stuffed down her throat. What causes that?



  21. Hi Jesse:

    Re the round mouth question – the mouth has to be round – like a circle and the jaw must slowly relax and move to a down ward position when a singer vocalizes into the higher range.

    However – there is too much of a good thing. If the jaw is over extended to the point that the side facial muscles feel tight, then this is wrong. There has to be a relaxed feeling in the upper body and facial muscles.

    It take s a while to refine the consistently round mouth on all vowels, but it really is the ticket for securing a focused, pitch centered sound, as long as the breathing muscles are working efficiently.

    Re Mikalah, I don’t have time today to check my critiques of her, but it’s possible that her soft palate was not elevated – thus the nasal tone,

    Articulation of consonants are important – that’s a techique in itself. If done correctly, it actually augments the bel canto method of sustained singing, so it’s something that Mikalah and all singers have to perfect over the course of time.


  22. Hi Twilight Dreamer:

    My email address is Sorry about that. I have to add a contact page.

    Yes – you can add my site to your blogroll and I will reciprocate if that is alright?


  23. The links for the performers are not working on week 11. I’ve been reading you since season 3. I think you are great.

    P.S. Sanjaya’s mp3’s (
    sound better than his live performances. How can that be?


  24. Monique:

    I can’t figure out what the problem is with these links. Blake’s is fine and the links work in the Top 10 Vocal Masterclass.

    Thanks for drawing this to my attention. I will continue to unravel the mystery.