Vocal Masterclass For Canadian Idol Season Five Top Six Singers: Pop Rock With Maroon Five

by Rosanne Simunovic

I am a little late posting the Vocal Masterclass article this week, so I will dispense with the pre-Vocal Masterclass yada yada! As I said in the Top 6 discussion post, I thought this was a great show and I stand behind my first impression. So, throw oranges and apples and whatever at the computer screen if you don’t agree. Or you can leave a comment at the end of the article, but be nice!

The Top 10 will be evaluated each week according to performance order.

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

Brian Melo, Carly Rae Jepsen,
Dwight D’Eon, Jaydee Bixby
Matt Rapley Tara Oram,

Tara Oram: “Walking On Sunshine”

Strengths: Tara- this was a spirited and committed performance. Once again I sensed that you are a passionate, evocative performer who has tremendous respect for her audience. Your stage skills were just excellent this week and you embraced your audience in a memorable and tangible manner. Stylistically, you are on the right track, as your movements were well formulated and beautifully paced.

Additionally, I truly appreciated your attempt at maintaining a circular mouth formation on your vowels. It signified that you are in the process of developing your voice through the correct technical process. Additionally, to your credit, your voice never sounded breathy or fatigued by the energetic style of your showcase, indicating that the diaphragm was assisting you quite well with your vocal support.

Also, you distanced yourself from your habitual country style of singing and added a nice tinge of pop essence, indicating your wonderful attempt at staying true to this week’s Pop –Rock theme. Good for you.

Your strong communicative skills, coupled with your sincere and genuine demeanour, made for a wonderful performance package and I congratulate you on your hard work and determination throughout the Canadian Idol season.

Critique: Tara –although you did work hard at refining your vocal skills this week, you were still having difficulties with the proper method of vocal production. Generally speaking, you are having persistent problems with the balance of head and chest voice.

Chest voice is necessary – in fact – it is vital in the dynamic range of every singer. However, you presently add too much chest voice and are neglecting the pure ringing timbre that comes from adding a proper amount of head voice throughout your range.

For instance, when you moved through your upper range in the repetitive “woah –oh” segment of this song, you pushed the sound from the throat muscles, rather than allowing the throat to remain open and unobstructed. We needed to hear a cleaner, more ringing sound from you at this point in the song. Without the proper diaphragmatic support needed to add the head voice component, this section of the song sounded very flat and lifeless.

Additionally, you moved your head up and back, as if “reaching” for your upper notes and that is a “no-no” in really good, confident singing. It is very important to understand that a singer must never reach for her upper notes, but rather sing over them. Also, the bending of the knees and the butt squeeze technical tricks are good to have in your back pocket. These skills will assist you in accessing the lower half of your body during the supportive process.

Also, relax that jaw when moving through your upper range – very important. You still don’t open your mouth nearly enough to assist the projection of your voice, so keep working on this problem as well. A relaxed mouth and jaw = stronger support from the diaphragm.

Finally, try to distance yourself from the subtle Shania moves that are presently saturating your choreographic skills. You may not even realize that you are doing this, but it is problematic in the sense that you have yet to develop your own unique style of performing. Additionally, that throaty quality you use is reminiscent of Shania’s vocal sound, so I feel that, on some level of consciousness, you have channeled many elements of Shania’s vocal and performing style.

Good luck in your performing career, Tara. It has been a pleasure to watch you perform over the summer and I wish you health, happiness and much success in the future.

Jaydee Bixby: “Amazed”

Strengths: Jaydee- as always you exhibited a wonderful presence on stage and you worked hard to deliver a solid and sincere performance. You sang with great conviction, I thought, and, although I have many issues to address re voice production, I still felt that you were attempting to communicate the correct emotion of the song to your audience.

You have a tremendously developed voice for your age and I would be curious to know when your voice changed and how smooth the transition was for you? The timbre of your voice is so rich and resonant, that advancing your technical skills will only heighten your enormous vocal gift.

So, with this in mind, let’s see if we can improve on things for next week’s show, shall we?

Critique: Jaydee – I can read you like a book. When you are ill at ease, all the technical problems come to the forefront. Once again, the Southern drawl was back in full force, encouraging you to spread mouth, thus vocalizing in a very incorrect fashion. With your natural inclination to smile and twang when you perform, we lose the inherent natural beauty of your vocal gift. That horizontal mouth position has to go and go soon, Jaydee! It is wreaking havoc on the potential of your vocal production.

The circular mouth formation will automatically add a ringing and focused quality to your voice that will assist you in creating a pitch centered vocal sound. This is why your voice sounded so flat and irregular – your mouth formation was incorrect and, additionally, prevented you from sustaining and supporting your voice through the diaphragmatic process.

Added to this problem was the fact that, once again, the key was too high for your natural singing range. I believe this was a problem a couple of weeks ago and I cautioned you to make certain that the tonality of the melodic line was suitable for the development and range of your natural vocal gifts.

I felt that you were straining for those upper notes and understandably so. The melody line rested too high for too long a period and, as a result, caused you considerable tension. This song needed to be sung at least a tone lower – it would have made a huge difference in your comfort level.

Also, once again, your right leg was conducting your showcase, as it maintained a rhythmic pulse throughout your number. This extraneous movement was terribly distracting during your performance and, additionally, depleted the energy necessary for proper technical support. It also called unfavorable attention to your nervousness during this performance.

Furthermore, you must work on becoming more creative in your phrasing skills. Throughout the entire song, the melodic line sounded very fragmented, as you didn’t apply any creativity in the phrasing of your vocal line. You breathed in all the predictable spots.

This vocal element does come with experience, but, when working with your coaches, make certain that you gain assistance from them in honing and perfecting the overall interpretation of your performance. This is vital in creating memorable, distinctive performances, so make certain that you challenge yourself in the judicious preparation of your future song selections.

Matt Rapley: “Everything”

Strengths: Matt – this is the first time this season that a singer has moved me to tears. You sang with such joy and passion it was palpable. I mean – it does help that I absolutely love this song and its original artist, Michael Buble, but, quite honestly, you sang this in a distinctive and superb style that was refreshing to watch and soothing to listen to.

Plus there you were at the piano – how great was this? I have been waiting for you to tinkle those ivories and it was well worth the wait. You looked totally in your element – the song choice was perfect, the key was superb, the voice was well controlled and produced in a radiantly seamless manner.

Additionally, your stage movements were as smooth and as comfortable as your vocal skills. You moved in a relaxed manner from the piano to center stage and then through your audience with a well- rehearsed yet natural demeanour.

Also, you negotiated the key change with perfect skill, once again signifying the musical depth and experience you have brought to this competition.

As I mentioned last week, “your open and expressive facial features augmented the resonating presence of your voice. Those pure vowels were wonderfully sustained and you maintained a cohesive effect when connecting your notes in the melodic line.”

Also, your phrasing skills were impeccable. The musical line throughout this song had a sense of flow and purpose. You maintained a forward momentum throughout this song and, as a result, the song always sounded energized and buoyant. Additionally, you diction was excellent – signifying, again, the high level of vocal training you have received in your very young singing career.

Kudos to you, Matt! This was a tremendous showcase! Bravo!

Critique:Matt – just make certain that you continue working on the proper technical support when singing within your lower range. I think that, generally, you do initiate an element of technical control, but further depth and refinement will occur naturally with age and experience.

Always remember to center and focus your lower range as efficiently as you do when you sing through your upper range. The voice must vibrate and resonate within your facial features and, when singing lower, more toward the lower half of your vocal masque (face).

In terms of your stage technique, I would not change a thing for this song. You were truly living what was for you a momentous musical experience, given the fact that you waited for weeks for this song to clear. You truly did have a great reason to celebrate and I applaud and congratulate you on this wonderful and inspiring showcase.

Good luck Matt! Bravo!

Carly Rae Jepsen: “Come To My Window”

Strengths: Carly Rae –this was a marvelous and extremely poignant performance. Your absolutely unique interpretation of this song was a strong testament to the consummate level of your artistry. Your voice moved effortlessly through the melodic line in a very expressive and meaningful manner. You added wonderful nuances through out this song, allowing the emotions to dictate the timbre of your voice. You are not afraid to be expressive, to feel and to show the inner workings of your soul. How I value this is in a performer!

Additionally, your technique was more consistent and accurate this week than has been the case over the last couple of weeks. When you love the song you are performing and truly live it, then magical things begin to happen to a vocalist. Everything miraculously falls into place.

However, I also sensed that there was a higher degree of focus and preparation over the past week and this translated to every aspect of this performance. The vocal and performing skills were beautifully balanced.

There was a lovely refinement to this performance that truly moved me and, given that your vocal projection was so astute and remarkably creative, I found myself quite captivated by this entire musical ride. It was all about style and substance and the perfect blend of the two.

And I did take note of that circular mouth position as you sustained those pure vowels consistently well throughout your range. That stellar sustained note on the word “way” was pitch centered and pure, with just the perfect amount of head tone.

And, the icing on the cake appeared when I took note of the clarity of your diction. This technical component has been problematic for you in past weeks, Carly, but this week I felt that you strived to correct the errors in the articulation of your consonants and the formation of your vowels. There was a lovely spinning quality in your voice when you sustained those vowels and the consonants were enunciated crisply and cleanly without disturbing the sustaining power of your vowels.

This was an outstanding and memorable showcase. Brava Carly Rae!

Critique: Carly- I truly could find very little to critique in this performance. Everything I look for in an artist was a living presence throughout this showcase. I hope that you will continue to apply this wonderful work ethic in your remaining performances and, if you do, you will be an unstoppable entity on that stage.

Brava Carly. Exceptional work this week!

Brian Melo: “Dolphin’s Cry”

Strengths: Brian –now that was a neat little ditty. I have no idea what you were singing about, but you kicked it, Mr. Melo. You vocally lived and approached the rock genre with a theatrical and passionate style. Throughout this performance, your voice ran the gamut in terms of displaying a variety of inflection and nuances, from pure vocals to the raw, rustic vocals that have characterized so many of your outstanding performances in the past few weeks.

As a result, this week’s showcase had a multi-dimensional vibe and, more important it felt artistically real and genuine. You really know who you are as a performer and I value this so much in an artist. This level of focus and determination will carry you very far over the long term.

Additionally, you moved with ease and abandon on stage, interacting wonderfully with the female back-ups as you worked your way to center stage. Your vocals had a technical base, conceived from the raw energy and feverish momentum you instilled in this performance. When the soul is pumped then so is the body and I felt that your diaphragmatic breathing muscles were working in a consistent, and perhaps frantic manner, to achieve the vocal passion, expression and presence in your voice.

And, it was wonderful to see you move about the stage. I always emphasize to singers that even a little bit of movement on stage can both relax and energize the body and, in doing so, the technique seems to resonate better in the singer. Additionally, movement – if carefully rehearsed – not only guarantees that you are singing your melodic line in a musical and seamless manner, but also ensures that the very important forward momentum is maintained throughout the song.

What more is there to say, Brian! As I said last week and it bears repeating: “this was an authentically performed showcase”. Staying true to “who you are” is tantamount in the music business and you are, in fact, a genuine and highly organized musical artist.

Bravo Brian. I loved this showcase!

Critique: Brian – this was a difficult number to critique, mainly because of my unfamiliarity with the number. (sorry rock fans). Also, the very busy and diversified nature of this showcase kept me thoroughly entertained and, as much as I suspected that, perhaps there were a couple of notes here and there that missed the mark, it is, after all, rock music. This genre of music allows for a less refined vocal style than say, Carly Rae Jepson’s performance of “Come To My Window” – where every vocal flaw is totally exposed.

And so I caution you, Brian, to make certain that every expressive element in your voice is grounded through the correct technical process. Even rock singers have to learn how to preserve their voice and you would be wise to equip yourself with some really sound technical exercises that will assist you in developing and refining the depth of your vocal and dynamic range.

Slow exercises that encourage you to sustain on the pure vowels will not only develop the resonant timbre of your voice, but will also heighten your breathing skills. Conversely, the quicker paced exercises will increase the flexibility of your breathing muscles, which is very important when singing fast paced song selections where breathing must be initiated in a quick, yet relaxed manner.

However, this was, once again, an extremely superb performance. You are like good wine – you get better with age (well, in Idol terms age=weeks)! Bravo!

Dwight D’Eon : “Smooth”

Strengths: Dwight- this was an outstanding song choice – totally inspired. It signified in a huge way your outstanding gifts as a vocalist and as a guitarist. That guitar solo midway through this song was killer; it was such an exciting segment in this wonderfully produced showcase.

You really emphasized –in this one song – why you should be in this Top 10. You strive for excellence and you strive even harder to entertain. Such respect for one’s audience is a huge plus and emphasizes why you have been such a successful musician pre-Idol.

Your voice was dynamically energized by the passionate rhythmic components of this song. Like so many of this week’s Top 6, you truly lived your lyrics, allowing the emotional core of the song to dictate the expressive quality in your voice. That contagious rhythmic pulse really captured your soul and, in doing so, the overall performing elements of this song soared to a record high

Because of your total immersion in the entertainment aspects of this song, your voice enjoyed a renewed focus and presence that had dynamic punch and muscle. You have a very good voice, Dwight; it is a solid vocal instrument and, with time and training, it will gain more power and prominence in your performances.

However, this week’s showcase was about Dwight the musician and, even though the vocals may not have been classically produced, it was the total performance that won me over.

Excellent work and a powerful end to this week’s Top 6 performances. Bravo!

Critique: Dwight – I think that the performance aspects of this song may have affected some development in your vocal projection, as last week, your voice had better focus and presence. However, I would not trade this performance for anything – it was that good.

However, you must continue working on your vocal technical skills, in the same manner and with the same diligence as you exert when you practice and hone your outstanding guitar skills. One good instrument deserves another, so my hope for you is that the true quality of your voice rises to meet and match the high degree of your ability as a guitarist.

Once again, you must learn to support and project your vocals – especially your upper register – by accessing the power and control of your diaphragmatic rib cage muscles. I would be curious to know if you practiced the vocals of this song without the guitar. If not, then, perhaps, this would be a good rule to implement in the future, especially in a song as challenging as “Smooth”. It would afford you the opportunity to concentrate on just the vocal line, making certain that there are no areas of tension in the upper body.

And speaking of that upper body, make sure that your throat stays open and relaxed, so that your vocal sound can flow freely toward your vocal masque. Your throat was constricted in the upper part of your vocal range and, therefore the natural depth and pitch centered ring of your voice was a missing entity in this performance.

And always remember to further relax and open the jaw when vocalizing in the upper range. This will ensure that you are not pushing too much chest voice into your vocals, thus creating a pure, more pleasing vocal sound. Additionally, don’t forget about the knee bends and butt squeezes when singing through the higher part of your range

All in all, though, this was a killer performance. Bravo Dwight!

Please feel free to comment and become part of the vocal masterclass process.

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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

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