Top Ten Holiday Movies for Singers

Whitney560

Grab some eggnog, put up your feet and find singing inspiration in these holiday films – says Beth Trollan


  MsScrooge      1. Ms. Scrooge
(1997) Here’s a female spin on one of the most well known tales of the season. Ebonita Scrooge (Cicily Tyson) is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, relearning the importance of giving. Check it out at about 1 hour and 5 minutes – we see the pastor of a Church turn to the church congregation to proclaim that ¨Singing is the secret language of the soul¨ – a great reminder that singing is food for the soul and not just about external success.

 

 

 

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WhiteChristmas2. White Christmas (1954) In the opening scene, Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” in his warm, rounded, and full bass-baritone voice. His execution is incredible from the very first syllable. Think of connecting to your own lower body register as Bing does here. How to do that? Imagine the chanting of a monk or in the repetition word OM in yoga practice. You are connecting to the belly and letting the sound resonate; connect by placing your hand on your belly, and then bring the sound up and out of your body.

 

 

 

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PreachersWife3. The Preacher´s Wife (1996) The late great Whitney Houston stars in this film as an actress and singer along with Denzel Washington. The gospel arrangements of well-known and more spiritual Christmas tunes are spectacular. At about only 4 minutes into the film we have two fantastic examples to soak in; Whitney has such vocal control over runs and perfect notes. How does she do that? Well, she is Whitney Houston! Her entire throat, neck and body are wide open and relaxed. Her body form is working toward the exaltation of her voice not against it. Try breaking down your own vocal runs, into 4 and 5 notes. Practice these sections slowly, keeping relaxed as Whitney; then, put the parts together and increase your speed.

 

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Emmet4. Emmet Otters Jug-Band Christmas (1977) This clever and original Jim Henson movie musical is a take on ¨The Gift of the Magi¨. At the beginning of the film, we see Emmet and his Mother singing in harmony. At one point they are sliding up a tone, a fifth apart. Their timing is great and reinforces the lesson that singing in harmony requires great timing in order to avoid clashing notes! Neither Emmet nor his mother wins the talent show prize but their actions lead to unexpected rewards for both.

 

 

 

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GRinch5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) You can’t steal Christmas, but he did! I love the Grinch’s speak-singing: “You´re a mean one mister Grinch…” Always remember this in your toolbox of techniques. Sometimes you don’t need vocal aerobics or runs— just simple and meaningful speak-singing. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix were masters of this technique.

 

 

 

 

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Carrey6. A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey (2009) Jim Carey has such total commitment to his characters in everything he does. Here he takes on 7 roles! As singers, we can learn from this by creating and embodying our “character” in the lyrics and delivery for the duration of our songs. You may tell the story of 30 different characters in one night. Totally commit to your “role” in your music, being art incarnate.

 

 

 

 

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Snow7. A Christmas Without Snow (1980) This film is a newbie for me but what a find! As in the film, my own hometown choir would perform Handel’s Messiah every year at the Christmas concert. If you were an alumnus you could even jump up onto the choir rafters and join in. Oh, the glory of getting a solo in a choir! At about 24 minutes into the film, we see a young Asian female take the soprano solo by storm. Her cyclical breathing technique is seamless. She takes quick, structured, rhythmic breaths and delivers a raving performance of this very technical and lyrical piece of music.

 

 

 

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TSOM8. The Sound of Music (1965) Here’s a great one to watch again over the holidays. Julie Andrews is perfect in this role – who else could have played it?! The major scale is featured at about 1 hour into them movie when Maria teaches the children Do Re Mi. Sometimes we need to breathe new life into our familiar musical patterns. Rodgers and Hammerstein point the way! I especially love the scene that takes place just after Maria teaches the kids to mix up the“Solfeg” pattern, putting words to them. No fear; just sing!

 

 

 

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TheWiz9. The Wiz (1978) This is the highly celebrated Motown version of the Wizard of Oz. The music, dancing, and costumes blow it though the roof while the storyline of Dorothy being from Harlem, New York keeps it real to life. Much can be said in terms of vocal prowess and technique of the actors such as Michael Jackson but consider the singing of Thelma Carpenter at about 20 minutes into the film. She has a strong and “sassy” presentation that uses all the imperfections of her voice: smokey, gritty —divine by its imperfect nature!

 

 

 

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Wonderful10. It´s a Wonderful Life (1946). Here’s an amazingly simple premise that brings to light our fragile human existence. An angel helps a down-and-out businessman by showing what his life would have been like if he never existed. A great reminder how we affect the lives of others. What does this have to do with singing? The film reminds me that the voice is our god given gift for others. Just think of this: Many people go through life finding it unfulfilling. Our singing and musical talents can uplift and heal others as well as ourselves.

 

 

 

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Beth Trollan is a Brooklyn born singer/actress from New York. She is a published songstress and collaborative lyricist. One can see her hit the big screen this year in Grand Piano in the supporting role of Emma’s Publicist, a thriller that finds itself where the worlds of Hitchcock and and Speed collide. It stars… READ MORE ABOUT BETH TROLLAN

 


  • Poppa Madison

    Some nice choices there Beth and I guess if one were to watch them all it would cover the Christmas period. However, for future vocal learning I would throw in all of the Rodgers & Hammerstein film musicals with such greats as Shirley Jones and Gordon Mcrae and even Paint Your Wagon where Clint Eastwood takes the singing plunge and sings “They call the Wind Maria”. There is such an abundance of now “old movies” that contain a plethora of variances of performance and technique combined with presentation in character acting roles other than that of the actual person.
    Future generations are indeed lucky that all of this has been preserved for them to learn from. Youtube,com of course is awash with clips and even complete movies.

    For any of you who cares to visit me at soundcloud.com up to and including Christmas Day, you are invited to FREELY listen to the full version of my latest Christmas song just released for download internationally. Look for “Sunshine Christmas!”

    Have a Great Christmas Everyone !

    Poppa
    Madison

    © ♯♪♫ ♂PM

    ♫Poppa Madison Music ♫ – Woodridge – Queensland – Australia

    Composing Music & Song for Everyone to Enjoy – Worldwide.

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