17th May 2017 – Directing and cleaning the vocals for Bring on the Men

As I am no longer partaking in the performance altogether, I have taken on the role as a creative and co director. In today’s session, I took the opportunity to work with Emma Croft on the vocals for Bring On The Men. I did this as I had previously looked at the rehearsal schedule and noticed that Lynn would like a full hour rehearsal with the whole company that are involved in the piece, on Thursday 18th May (Tomorrow). Having watched back the video’s of the stumble run, it was evident to see that Emma was unsure of the timings of the track and the pitching of the notes.

As I have previous experience with singing, I decided to meet with Emma to try and iron out any mistakes that she was making and ensure she was confident enough to perform on Thursday. To begin with, I asked Emma to sing through the song once on her own. Throughout this exercise it was clear to see that she was extremely unsure of the timings and was often quite pitchy or too monotone when she sang. Together, we went through the first line of the song ‘There was a time, I don’t know when, I didn’t have much time for men’ – It was here where I noticed a major area for improvement that would instantly help Emma. It was that she was dropping off the end of notes or sliding them which in turn stopped her from being able to pitch the next upcoming note. I held a little vocal exercise with her where I would sing the word ‘Men’ at the same time as her and asked her to match my pitch, I didn’t tell Emma that she was dropping off her notes initially as I wanted her to hear the difference for herself so that she could understand where she was going wrong. Instantly, she dropped off the note and I carried on singing the same note and she said to me afterwards ‘Something isn’t quite right with the pitch there’ I then explained to her what she has been doing and asked her to drag the note out instead of sliding the note out of tune and dropping off the end, to which she did beautifully and was easily able to pitch the next note relatively well. This hugely improved the first few lines of the song and I was extremely happy with the progress made already. We carried on singing another few lines, however the last line of the chorus went a little wrong. I stopped the music and told her that she had slurred and slid the notes for ‘On the men’ which sounded horrific. I demonstrated an easy way for it to sound more lifted and in tune – by taking the sliding out and broke the words down into 3 separate notes, it made the entire thing sound a little cleaner and in tune which was our aim. Emma was able to execute this very well and even managed to pinpoint all of the places in the song where to apply the techniques I taught her. Together we sang through the song and the improvement was phenomenal, until the last line ‘Bring On The Men’ this is actually fairly high and in Emma’s range as she is a Soprano. As I am an a low alto, I had to hit the notes in my head voice which I think threw Emma a little bit and she was not able to pitch this well at all, the notes were A4, E5, D5, D5. (The song itself is in c# minor) I played this on the Piano and she managed to pitch it fairly quickly.

After this, we had a short break before running through the song together again, this time we sang the entire song together so that she could pick up timings, we established that the beginning was sung a lot quicker than she thought even though the timing of the song seemed quite slow, Emma and I went through it once more and she managed to get the timings spot on, even when singing the song solo. After both of us were satisfied with the progress made, we invited Helena to come and listen to the song. At times, Emma had a few minor timing issues and pitching issues however on the whole, Helena was pleased with the progress made and agreed that it sounded a lot stronger. Of course, the song is by no means perfect vocally, however I believe that it sounds a lot more in tune and pleasant to listen to. The only thing I am slightly worried about is Emma forgetting our full days rehearsal of notes and techniques and sing the song exactly how she did before in Thursday’s rehearsal. If this happens, it may be an idea to add in Jess and Faye (who are dancers in the group and also sing well) to join Emma to make the performance stronger and make her feel more confident in singing the number without feeling to exposed.

Today I found it a little hard to direct Emma without hurting her feelings. It made it easier that she knows she has pitching issues, however I still had change my vocabulary to ensure Emma was on board with the decisions I was making and parts I was tweaking without hurting her feelings, especially as we are good friends, that is the last thing I want to do. However, it is important she received honest feedback to ensure she could improve on her vocals. I feel that I did well handling this as I often suggested ideas that I said would ‘make her feel more confident and comfortable’ to which she often agreed with and said at the end of the session that she feels much more prepared for tomorrow’s rehearsal. As it stands, I am m content that Emma has improved without any upset whatsoever and that Emma is happy with what she is singing. I just hope now she continues to practice and apply what I have taught her to ensure the vocals can only improve now, instead of worsen as I want people to hear the vast amount of hard work and effort Emma has put in today.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and indoor

(I am wearing white trainers, a hoodie and have purple hair. I am also closest to the left hand side)

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One thought on “17th May 2017 – Directing and cleaning the vocals for Bring on the Men”

  1. This is a really clear and careful write-up of the rehearsal. It’s good how you have identified that, in a directorial role, diplomacy is MOST important – you can’t get good work out of an unhappy actor! You’ve observed that a problem might have been that all the good solid work would disappear over night, but I think you could see how it actually paid off in Emma’s confidence with the song at the group rehearsal today (18th May). With almost a week still to go, the more you can cheer Emma along with this, the stronger it will be. Good work!

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