Saturday, 20 April 2013

My first jazz vocal class.

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while.  I attended my first class in Bob Sedergreen's jazz vocal course.  Me and my nine classmates meet on a Saturday afternoon at the Paris Cat, a tiny jazz club in Melbourne and one of the things on today's agenda was for everyone to get up and sing.  

"That way you can say you've sung at the Paris Cat," quipped Bob.

Immediately I could feel everyone's energy shift inward as we wondered what on earth we should sing.  Bob would accompany us, we'd be on stage, lit, and singing on the microphone.  I was excited.  I decided I'd sing whatever came to mind.  Why not?

Bob is a very democratic teacher and he said that there were two halves to today's class: singing and going through the mission statement and things to pay attention to if we wished to improve our jazz singing.  It was up to us to choose what we did first and he took a vote.  I was the only person who voted to sing.  I was surprised - isn't that why we had all come?  Ah, but it was about the nerves and delaying the moment when the fear had to be faced.

When it came time to sing a woman was already on stage and  had had a go at improvising on a common chord progression.  She was invited to sing her song while she was up there.  So I went second.

"I've got you under my skin" was what came to mind and as I started to sing I knew that the key was way to low.  No problems!  Bob just took it up a notch and then I blossomed.  What a pleasure to sing with such a masterful accompanist!  We each received some feedback when we finished and I was thrilled with mine.  Bob said that apart from my voice (which he liked), he noticed my persona and presence on stage.  He said he felt happy as I took the stage and that I radiated a happy, positive energy which made him want to listen.  

I was very pleased to receive this feedback as I think that's what happens too.  It's great to have your own beliefs affirmed by someone outside.  I'm already excited about the final concert which is a Sunday night in July.  I'll remind you.

The class has nine women and one bloke and it's clear we're all at different levels of both musical and vocal experience.  I find this really exciting.  One woman who sounded like her first language might be French or Spanish, was terribly nervous when she sang "Cry me a River".  She forgot all the words and Bob had to prompt her, yet she sang that song like it really meant something and it was wonderful.  She conveyed fragility and sadness.  

I love working in a masterclass setting.  There is as much to learn from watching other performers as there is from working on your own stuff.  

As I got in the car, the CD started playing and it jarred.  It was the Deadstring Brothers, "Starving Winter Report" - think early Rolling Stones.  I love this album, but it was wrong for where my head was at.  I drove home to my own soundtrack, skipping from "Cry me a river" to "My funny valentine".  

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