Monday, July 13, 2015

Music Education Monday: Vocal tips from Kurt Elling and Frank Sinatra, and more

This week for "Music Education Monday," here are some free resources for aspiring jazz vocalists.

If you're just getting started, the website offers a good overview of the history of jazz singing and its most important practitioners, and includes a lot of potentially useful links.

For example, that's where yr. humble editor found the text for Tips On Popular Singing, a instructional book published in 1941 that's credited to none other than Frank Sinatra, "in collaboration with his vocal teacher John Quinlan."

While it's doubtful that the young version of Ol' Blue Eyes spent too many hours sweating over a hot manuscript, the involvement of his teacher presumably means that the book's contents bear at least some relationship to what Sinatra was doing at the time. For another perspective, Australian singer Tom Benjamin acknowledges the Sinatra/Quinlan book as a training method, then offers his own take via an essay in PDF form called "How to Sound Like Sinatra."

Here in the present day, Kurt Elling is one of the most acclaimed singers in jazz, and after the jump, you can see a video of an excerpt from a master class he did in 2011 at the North Sea Jazz Festival, in which he talks about what it takes to be a jazz singer.

That's followed by another short video, produced in 2012 by Jazz Times magazine, in which Elling (pictured) talks about his early years as a jazz vocalist, his teachers and mentors, and some of his favorites from the Great American Songbook.

The third clip, "Vocal Improv and Warm Ups for Jazz Singers," is part of a series of short instructional videos produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center, and features singer Marion Cowings demonstrating vocal warm-up exercises and discussing "how to use the words and melody of a song to inspire your improvised vocal solo."

Last but not least, in today's fourth and final video, Dennis DiBlasio, best known for his stint as baritone saxophonist and music director with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's big band, presents some very practical tips on scat singing that could be used by just about any musician or singer, regardless of technical ability or experience level.

Coincidentally, singer and educator Michele Weir has written a short essay with musical examples called "Fearless Vocal Improvisation" that ties in to some of what DiBlasio talks about, and you can download a PDF copy here.

You can see today's videos after the jump...

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