My parents, however, love American Idol and watch it faithfully each season. Since I am home for an extended Christmas break, it behooves me to not be a schmuck and watch it with them. So imagine my surprise at actually enjoying it this time around. I kind of watched/tried not to watch (imagine me with my headphones in, trying to tune out the singing while watching Doctor Who on my phone) last week, but had to pay a little bit of attention when my parents asked my "expert" opinion. By the end of the episode, I'd put the show on pause and started to pay a little bit of attention.
What caught my attention? It was Harry Connick Jr. First he commented on the lack of heart in someone's showy singing. I was so gratified to hear a famous singer giving the same advice I've given so often in lessons. Finally! Then he commented on someone's use of a 2-1 progression - "you never went to the 5." I wanted to leap through the TV and give him a high-five and a hug. I know music theory geeks the world over were probably cheering. It was just gratifying to hear one of the judges speak from a position of fame AND formal training.
Today, I actually found myself looking forward to watching the show with my parents, and found myself wondering if they stream this on Hulu (we do internet TV at home). About halfway through, Harry gave a great comment to a young singer named Stephanie Gummelt. He said something like "you need more breath and more breath of experience."
YES!!!! What an eloquent, yet simple way of giving out two key pieces of advice. First - a singer needs to sing "on the breath," i.e. support the sound. Second - a singer needs to sing from their own life experiences. I know these lovely, sweet kids of fifteen and sixteen can have great vocal talent, but not all of them have the full breadth of experience needed to sing some of the songs that they tackle. We have to sing what we know. I know that I have a completely different outlook in my forties than I did in my teens and twenties, and it makes a huge difference in my singing. And I now have a new way of expressing that idea to my students: "Did you see American Idol the other night?"
I know I'm a wee bit late jumping on the American Idol Harry train, but I think I'm going to go find out if Idol is streaming on Hulu Plus...