Tips for Singers in the pageant Talent Competition
Pageant Talent Music Should Reflect the Singer’s Personality
In preparing for the talent competition, whether the singer’s the performance is a torch song or aria, her music should reflect her personality.
- For instance, having survived a horrible auto accident in childhood and doctors’ prognosis that she would never walk again, Cheryl Prewitt wanted to perform music that reflected her optimism and victory over tragedy. She chose “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” because, she recalls, “I wanted a song which was very uplifting, something about goals and dreams, which is what my life has always been. It was a great song for me.”
- Terry Meeuwsen, Miss America 1973, selected the stirring song “He Touched Me” to express the impact becoming a Christian had made upon her life.
- Similarly, Leanza Cornett chose a song that voiced the message of her AIDS education and prevention platform. Her stirring performance of “A New Life” (“What would I give to have a new life?”) gave the Miss America judges panel goose bumps.
- Katie Stam, Miss America 2009, chose Via Delarosa (The Road of Suffering) for her talent as a reflection of her faith in Christ.
Make Sure the Song Has Not Over-Used
Keep in mind that once someone has won with a musical selection it is relentlessly copied. Judges eventually tire of the song and it loses its winning edge. Always keep an ear tuned for songs that have graduated from success to saturation. “Contestants should look for a song that hasn’t been used and used and used in pageants,” advises former Miss America, Cheryl Prewitt-Salem, “something that is going to be refreshing for listeners.”
Avoid overly-familiar songs…unless your voice is as good as the original artist. “I know you’re not supposed to compare them with the recording, but it’s very difficult at times not to compare them,” says Roger Knight, a pageant judge and former Miss Florida official. “If we’ve heard it played countless times on the airwaves – when you hear someone else sing it, it’s just not quite as good. I think it’s a bad choice for a girl to pick a very famous song or a very recent hit unless she can do it extremely well and really sell it.”
Choose Pageant Music That is Right for Your Voice
The music should be right for the voice. The right note range for the contestant’s level of skill is imperative. Every song has a different range of notes, from a narrow range to a very wide range. A singer or musician must be able to perform the complete range of notes in her music. If she can’t, if the song requires too much of a stretch, she will lose points.
Music teachers and choral directors can help entrants determine their correct vocal range. Novices should select songs with a limited range of notes well within their ability, while advanced performers should show off their superb skills with more challenging selections. Taped accompaniment is available in every vocal range. I cannot overemphasize how important the right music is to a contestant’s chances.
Compare Leanza Cornett’s performance at the Miss America Pageant with her winning talent performance at the Miss Florida Pageant. Despite the fact that Leanza was already a professional singer and performer at Disney MGM Studios, her rendition of “With One More Like You” at the state level was fine but not dazzling. Yet less than three months later, when she performed a different selection, “A New Life,” at the national pageant, several of the judges awarded her perfect tens. Same voice. Same degree of vocal development. Yet one performance left some viewers impressed, while the other left national judges speechless.
Why? Leanza’s musical selection for the nationals was flawless for her, evoking powerful emotions and perfectly suiting her voice and AIDS platform. Picking the right music is one of the most important decisions a contestant will make. The right music should create a winning image by fitting her age, personality, and level of skill, and by entertaining the audience and judges.
Pageant talent music is one of the most fascinating – and difficult – areas for which a pageant contestant must prepare. Picking the right talent music is the first step in a winning talent competition performance. To be successful, a pageant talent performance must touch the hearts and emotions of the audience and judges.
Use Quality Pre-Recorded Pageant Music
With talent often counting for a hefty chunk of scoring, a talent performance should be as professional as possible. Most pageants require pre-recorded background music to simplify production. Fortunately, prerecorded accompaniment music is one of the most effective – and least expensive – steps a contestant can take to improve her presentation. Music tracks are widely available as music downloads and are affordable.
They also make timing a cinch. Make sure to edit your music tracks to fit the talent time limits of each system you enter.
With affordable, pre-timed, high-tech help available, singers and musicians should avoid performing to a single instrument accompaniment – either onstage or on tape. It looks and sounds amateurish. “Unfortunately, a lot of girls have done that, not knowing that good tracks are available,” says Steve Bishop, president of Express Trax, a top pageant music-track firm. “They’ve gotten Grandma to play somethin’ on the old upright, taped it on a cheap tape-recorder, and they turn it in. I’ve seen it many a time. It’s unfortunate for the girl,” he continues, ”because she could have a much better track, a full orchestra backing her up for very little money.”
The orchestra sound provided by pre-recorded tracks adds excitement and professionalism to a talent performance. “A lot of the emotion and saleability of the song comes from the music, no matter how good a singer you are,” says Steve, “so get the best track you can.”
In addition to making a talent performance sound more professional, a quality track also helps the young woman to be comfortable with her music.
“The big advantage of using a track is, you know the arrangement, you’ve learned the track, you know how the music is going to go,” explains Bishop. “You can play it in your car, at home – anywhere. You can practice with the song and know it up and down. Those girls who haven’t had much entertainment experience can practice and practice and practice, and learn that one song very well. That’s a big advantage.” For practice, pageant tracks feature a for-performance version, an instructional demo version, and a lyrics sheet for memorization. “When you flip the tape over there is a demonstration vocal,” says Steve, “so they can play the demo side and learn the song, then flip it over and have their music without the vocal.”
Digital downloads of karaoke music of top hits offers a superb opportunity to affordably try out a wide range of song options, as well as to perform various selections in public to see how they feel, how audiences react to different songs.
Always Practice With the Music You Supply to the Pageant
Never get onstage to perform without having practiced with the CD. One local entrant learned that lesson the hard way. She purchased a track of a hit tune she often sang along with on the radio, and without practicing with the tape, she went onstage to perform it. To her horror, she discovered in front of the judges that the taped version was in a different key and she couldn’t sing it. Always practice with your music before performing it in competition. Finally, keep a backup CD. If the music your supply to pageant organizers is lost or damaged somehow, you don’t want to find yourself out on a technicality. Keep a spare.
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