Vocal competition judges repeat similar messages that singers can learn from – says Jeannie Deva
Preparing for my appearance on the TV Show “Idol Chat” to critique Idol finalists, I studied the auditions for American Idol: the judges most frequent criticisms?
Song choices didn’t permit or showcase the unique characteristics of the singer and to quote Idle judge and producer Randy Jackson: [they] “… sound like Karaoke singers” meaning, they were singing along with the song rather than having created their own original interpretation.
Singers lacked adequate vocal control to stay on pitch and not strain for notes.
Let’s look at ways to deal with each of these.
Can you remember a time you heard a singer who left you untouched emotionally, but was said to have “great technique?”
The fact is; that singer did not have great technique. Instead, the vocal technique obstructed the meaning, emotion and believability of the song.
Technique is only as good as it can support, not overshadow, your communication.
The “perfect sound” means nothing if it is not used as a means to enhance your performance and create an emotional response.
Singing with emotion, passion and conviction is one of a singer’s most important achievements.
This includes developing each of your songs to be a portal for your personal style and individuality.
Improving Your Audience Connection
Improve Pitch Accuracy and Control
But no matter how emotionally a singer sings, if there are problems such as staying on pitch, audience connection can be lost.
There are a number of factors that contribute to singing with good pitch: mental and physical.
Our vocal instrument is reined by our imagination. We have a thought – and emotion – sensitive instrument.
For example: Even if your voice has the physical capability of 3 plus octaves of notes, if you can’t imagine all those notes, your body won’t create them.
On the other hand, if you haven’t developed the physical ability to sing 3 or more octaves, you won’t be able to sing them.
Muscles must be developed to do all they potentially can do.
This is similar for any athlete: we are vocal athletes.
One factor contributing to accurate pitch and control is the achievement of limber vocal muscles.
Pitch Accuracy and Control
Throat muscle tension can restrict the accurate vibration of your voice. This can drive your voice sharp (slightly higher than the correct note) or flat (slightly lower than the correct note).
Here’s a simple exercise to help release throat tension and limber your vocal muscles. After you practice it, sing a song and feel the results. With continued practice, it will have more and more of a positive effect on your voice. Enjoy!
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Billy Joe Juniors! – “State of Shock” by Green Day (Cover)
This is a good start by the three of you. Unfortunately the recording quality was very muffled so I was not able to hear the vocals well. Your drummer needs to practice his timing and keeping the rhythm consistent. Currently his playing is holding back the presentation of the song. I wish I could hear the vocals better so I could give you a critique on them, but from what I could hear, the vocal range was easy for you to sing, no strain, so that was good: Great that two of you can sing. You’re young so there’s lots of time to develop and as a band, achieve a unified sound.
Dakota Striplin – “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones (Cover)
Your vocal style and song interpretation really caught me by surprise and captured my attention right from the start. Your laid-back personal presentation was charming (fully equipped with a bathtub behind you – guess you wanted the acoustics of the bathroom?) You updated this Tom Jones song extremely well. At a few points in the song you had some pitch problems. Yet, the majority of the time you sang on pitch and in key. So to get consistently on pitch for this song, try singing the melody slowly and smoothly using an Ee vowel. Play the guitar chord by chord. Then for any passage that you hear yourself going off pitch or in any way are uncertain of the notes, before you move on to the next phrase, drill the notes of that phrase over and over until you are singing them exactly and with confidence. But that aside, once again let me acknowledge your voice and style – wonderful!
Loz Lee – “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding (Cover)
You have such a pretty voice. This was a great song choice for you. I also loved your short spoken introduction, and your giggle at the end made me smile. I know that singing in front of a large recording mic and big round pop filter can make it challenging to look at the camera. I appreciate your efforts in this regard. However, each time you looked at the camera, you took yourself out of the moment of the song. Instead of using the look as part of your song expression, it rather looked like you were checking something out. So the performance went in and out. There were moments when you were really singing the song; expressing the lyric with your voice. Practice doing this from start to finish regardless of where you direct your eyes and you’ll take it to the next level as a singer. Thank you for the song!
Jeannie Deva is an International Vocalist, Grammy member, Celebrity Voice and Performance Coach, Author of voice enhancement books and CDs, and a Recording Studio Vocal Specialist endorsed by Producers and Engineers for Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones. Originator of The Deva Method®, Complete Technique for Stage and Studio™ her unique method is used by singers and teachers worldwide.