Vocal

 Vocal Preparation

The Dilemma of Finding the Right Song and Track

1.  About You

     * What is your voice type? Soprano or Alto

     * Once voice type is determined what is your exact range?
           What exact notes vocally can be used when singing a song?

     * What style of music are you looking for. Pop, Broadway, Jazz, Classical, etc.

 

2.  About the Music

* Once the voice type, range, and style are determined, you may now start 
 looking at music that is available to satisfy your needs.

 * Where do I find the music?

A. KARAOKE TRACKS-Available on Itunes or Musical Creations. Most music would need to be edited down into the 1:30 format. These tracks will also usually have background vocals on them, and are built in the original format of the song. As a result, you are limited to editing  what is already there. (Musicalcreations.com or Itunes.com) Prices range from $.99 to $12.95.

B. PREVIOUSLY BUILT CUSTOM TRACKS-These are custom built tracks from the past that are now available for purchase. They have been built with live players in the 1:30 format and are built for competition. Meaning they make use of creative intros, modulations, and big endings. All the things needed to score extra points in the talent competition. (See AVAILABLE TRACKS) $75-$450

C. CUSTOM TRACKS-These are tracks that are built from the ground up for the individual contestant. We will normally sit at the piano and figure out the exact format, key, and arrangement to be built. Once all of these choices have been finalized, we hire the musicians, go into the studio and record the track. (see CUSTOM TRACKS) $850-$1500

 

3. Perfecting the Vocal and Adding the Blocking

     A. Once the song and track have been decided upon, you are ready to start
           perfecting the vocal.  We will learn all the notes, and modify anything vocally
           to best suit the individual singer.   

     B.  When the vocal work is finished, the number must then be blocked. 
            This is how you will present the song and the movement that you will use in
            your performance.

 

The COMPLETE PROCESS if you already have your song and wish to perfect it….

1.  I will first listen and watch you perform the song.
2.  I will offer my observations both vocally and on the blocking.
3.  We will clean up and perfect all vocal aspects of the song.  I will do an 
      analysis of specific problems and assign various exercises to
      correct them. Areas we will look at are:

         *Pitch
         *Phrasing
         *Pronunciation
         *Musicality
         *Style
         *Vowel Sound Analysis
         *Any rewrites that are needed on the vocal line

 

You will work in a very comfortable environment with a good system sound and cordless mic.  We will also record the session and I will either email this MP3 to you, or if time permits, transfer to a CD at the end of the session for you to take with you.

 

The COMPLETE PROCESS if you are a vocalist looking for the right song.

We must first determine what voice range you are best suited for. (Alto or Soprano) You most likely already know. Exact ranges must then be determined to best know where the strengths and weaknesses for the individual voice occur. We will check these ranges at the piano. Once vocal range has been determined, then we can start looking at voice type. Certain types of voices work better with certain types of songs. For example: a light alto voice with a limited range, is not going to be suited for a big belt Broadway styled song that has a wide range. Another factor to be considered is whether or not a vocalist can sing in her chest (belt) voice, stays in more of a mezzo voice, or stays only in her soprano voice. Some singers have the capability of singing in two or three of the vocal classifications which greatly widens the material available to choose from for them. At this point we can now start to narrow down the song choices.

Now that we know the voice range and type, we can start listening to music. We will listen to many, many selections that will work for the individual’s voice range and type. By the end of the first session we hope to have a list narrowed to three or four selections. The contestant at this point will take these three or four songs she has selected with her. After having time to learn them we can then make a final decision. Many times this can be done the following day, and I can help in that decision making process. Finding the right song comes easier for some that others. You just never know when you will run across a tune that moves you in a way that you want to perform it. And that is half the battle.

You must like and believe in what you are presenting.  When selecting a song keep that in mind. Can you imagine yourself on the big stage performing the song of choice? Song selection can be one of the most difficult tasks you will have to make in your pageant journey. Some may hit on that perfect song faster than others.  Soncee Brown, Miss Missouri 1991 (2nd RU to Miss America), searched for seven years before finally finding the piano-vocal, “He Touched Me.”  On the other hand, Jennifer Makris, Miss New Jersey 1994 (2nd RU to Miss America), walked in for a session and one of the first songs she listened to, “The Man That Got Away,” was it. She stopped me and said, “It’s perfect, we can stop our search.”

Once the final decision is made on the song choice, the real work begins. We will take the song apart vocally, working every aspect of pitch, phrasing, style, and musicality. We will also do any vocal re-writes that would enhance the presentation, as well as fit the individuals vocal capabilities the best.

Every voice and talent level is different. This all must be taken into consideration when working on a vocal presentation. Talent is NOT on the only area of competition. As proven time and time again by various Miss Americas, you do not have to win talent to be Miss America. You must have a presentable, entertaining talent. At the Miss America Pageant 2015, Kira Kazantsev did not win talent. She did not even have what many would consider a normal talent presentation. But, was it entertaining, captivating and well presented? Yes! 

I have found that one of the keys to success in a good vocal presentation is to make the vocal line work for the individual that is singing it. That is, putting different lyrics in different places to accommodate the vowel sounds that best show off the singer’s ability: getting long notes and key changes on good open vowel sounds rather than the closed ones. A good example would be Pam McKelvy, Miss Kansas 1992.  I think we rearranged the vocal lines on “I Am Changing” at least fifty times, putting different lyrics in different places the would best show off Pam’s ability. This constant work paid off for her in a talent win and Third Runner Up spot at the Miss America Pageant. The same scenario held true for both Paula Montgomery-Miss AR 1995 (2nd RU to Miss America) and Faith Jenkins, Miss LA 2000 (Talent Winner and First Runner Up to Miss America. We re-wrote many lines on both “Can’t Help Lovin That Man of Mine” and “If I Could” to assure that the best sound could be achieved by both singers.

With a vocal presentation you MUST believe that you CAN.  I have found that once you truly start believing in your abilities, you will start actually performing. When this happens, others start enjoying what you are doing on stage, and that’s when the magic begins. This brings us to your final step of preparation-Blocking.

Vocal Presentation and Blocking

Vocal blocking is the specific movement that a contestant uses when presenting a song on stage. Starting with exactly when and where she will move during the presentation, as well as the individual arm, hand, and facial expressions to be incorporated with the presentation. It’s an attitude that must be projected to the audience and judges that lets the movement become a partner to what is happening vocally on stage. These two MUST work hand in hand to make the performance complete.  The amount of blocking that an individual is capable of doing comfortably under pressure must always be taken into consideration. This many times proves to be a fine line. An overblocked, overstaged presentation can detract from the performer’s overall effectiveness. I will evaluate how much blocking a person can handle and how much she wants, then build from there. She is the one performing the number and must feel totally at ease with what she is doing on stage.

Kim Kircher has worked with me for over twenty years on vocal blocking. She understands the pageant world and knows what specific blocking will and will not work for each individual she works with. She is excellent at making the average contestant, with little movability, look as if she were a seasoned performer.

 

About Kim Kircher

Kim has been performing for over 30 years in many venues throughout the Kansas City area,  including Theatre, Cabaret, Recording, and her appearances with live bands around the state. Her pageant experience is also extensive. As a contestant, she was 4th RU to Debbye Turner at the Miss Missouri Pageant. She won talent all of the four years that she competed. In 1995, Kim released her first CD produced in Nashville, TN titled “Red Ribbon Diaries.” It was created specifically to benefit AmFAR and sold out within six months. Music is not Kim’s only love, however. She recently just completed a degree in medicine, and now works as a PA full time at an area hospital. (A smart and talented pageant gal!) Kim can be booked for sessions by contacting Bill.
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