Idols vocal coach Malie Kelly
I recently attended a course by vocal coach Malie Kelly. It is true that before I attended the course I had no idea who she was. I soon found out that she is quite famous and well respected in the music business. The course was brought to my attention by our agent who thought we might learn something from it. I was a bit skeptical at first, but after I went and looked at her face book page I decided to take it more seriously. It seems that her main focus is for Idols contestants. I am well past the age of entering Idols but I thought I would go and also take my 13 year old daughter along as she is a keen singer but does not have any training or experience in this field.
When we arrived I was met by a room full of about 80 people who were mostly young. Some of my fellow cover band comrades were there as well so we sat with them.
One day course
This was a one day course with allot of ground to cover. I think it was hard to cover all the material as the day was continually interrupted by young and enquiring singers and performers looking for advice and a deeper understanding of the course. Malie was assisted by a speech and drama coach who was a big part of the day and a very important part of the performers training. Her main focus was encouraging people to be true to themselves. This may sound like a cliche but after hearing her presentation it became apparent that having a purpose and being who you are gives the performer a genuine advantage. You need to keep a bit of your true self in your performance. People as well as judges pick up on this simple fact and its a very powerful tool. There was certainly allot of talking in this course and my daughter soon started yawing and getting restless. I think she was a little to young for the focus of this 6 hour course. However I feel like a gained allot. It was also quite amazing that many of the tools taught for improving you vocal performance was apart of my structure already.
Now here was the exciting bit. There were a couple of basic concepts that were covered that are very important to vocal development. The first one is breathing. I know that we need to breath from our diaphragm but Malie gave us good examples of how to breath deeper. How much space we have in our bodies to accommodate more air. It is of paramount importance that one never runs out of breath during a line of a song. The actual technique of deep breathing is joined by putting the breath in the right place. You have to really work a song to find out where to take that breath. She gave us an example of a strong breath by singing a sustained note. Just when I thought she had run out of breath, she exploded with another 10 seconds of a soaring powerful note. She also gave us some exercises to improve breathing and the strength of our voice. We did however run out of time and she did not mange to cover how to extend your range. I got the feeling that she had intended to cover this aspect. This was something I was particularly interested in as I desperately would like to sing higher than top E on the guitar. I plan all my songs around this fact in order to protect and maintain my voice. Two or three ventures into F# can trash my voice for a couple of days and possibly destroy the rest of the gig at the time.
Wow this was a real eye opener. Malie went on to demonstrate how different a note can sound by pronouncing it properly. You might struggle to hit a note on a word like "heart" for example. You might be singing it like Haaaaaarrrt. The idea from what I gathered is to clean the word up and make it more crispy. This helps the note be delivered in a more effective way. It would sound more like "Hiiiiiiiiart". Some one in the audience jumped up and gave an example of a line he was struggling with. Malie change the way he pronounced the word and when he tried it again, it was way better. It is very important to open you mouth when singing. Give it a try, you will find it makes a big difference to your singing. Malie also gave examples how different styles incorporate modified elocution to exaggerate and compliment that style. It was really fascinating.
Malie made it quite clear that we should never busk our way through a performance. If your waiting for that spur of the moment energy to arrive and give you a winning performance, chances are you will fail miserably. One must be completely prepared and know the song inside out in order to perform it in front of an audience. Learn the words, phrasing and breathing patterns well before you stand up in front of people. Very few people have the talent or the luck to give an un rehearsed winning performance.
Well that's it for now. If your serious about tackling Idols or any kind of musical career, I would advise you to seek guidance from professional couches and trainers