Video transcript
Vocal workshop with Michael Mayo

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AUDIENCE: You have such fluidity in your voice. So, I was wondering what sort of exercises that - you've obviously worked very much on getting that beautiful link between all your notes when you're moving through - any specific exercises that you have worked on over the years?

MICHAEL MAYO: So, not to get too deep into the technique of it all, a couple of things that I would do is just do some very soft 'lus' - like lu, lu, lu, like (SINGING) lu, lu, lu, lu, lu. Very, very light, nice and easy. I like to start my warm-up routine kind of mellow, because if you start all barrels blazing, you're not really - one, you're not really getting an accurate representation of what you would sound like singing loudly and powerfully, if you do that before warming up, because you're not going to really have the support necessary for that.

So, I would recommend just starting kind of light, doing a warm-up routine for 15 to 30 minutes every morning. And then, before you sing, if you have a gig or a show or rehearsal or something, doing that form of routine again. So, that doesn't mean 1 warm-up routine per day. If you do it in the morning, you don't have to do it before you sing. It means do it in the morning, and do it before you sing.

[snapping]

[music playing]

[vocalising]

(SINGING) 'I remember you. You're the one who made my dreams come true, a few kisses ago. I remember you. You're the one who said I love you, too. I do. Didn't you know? I remember too a distant bell, and stars that fell, like rain, out of the blue.

When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of it all. Then I will tell them I remember - I remember you. You're the one who made my dreams come true, a few kisses ago. I remember you. You're the one who said I love you, too. I do. Didn't you know? I remember too a distant bell, and stars that fell, like rain, out of the blue.

When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of them all, then I will tell them I remember you.

[scatting]

[applause]

[vocalising]

I remember you. You're the one who made my dreams come true, a few kisses ago. I remember you. You're the one who said I love you, too. I do. Didn't you know? I remember too a distant bell, and stars that fell, like rain, out of the blue.

When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of it all, then I will tell them I remember - tell them I remember - tell them I remember you.

[applause]

Thank you all. Let's give it up for Mr. Kevin Hun on the piano. Beautiful.

AUDIENCE: You're really good at improvisation and really beautiful voice. I was thinking what do you listen to to develop your own improvisational singing?

MICHAEL MAYO: Sure. Yeah.

Yeah, something a teacher of mine in high school told me - and this isn't a hard and fast rule, but this is something that I needed to hear in high school - was to listen to instrumentalists. She specifically said 'If you want to get better at improvisation, you want to listen to horn players.' Right? Now, the person that I am now, that sentence is a little bit problematic, because I think it can form a bit of a value system, that as singers we tend to put ourselves below instrumentalists. That's a very common thing. I'm sure people here can relate to that.

But, that's what I needed to hear in high school. So, I started listening a lot to Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard and Wynton Kelly and Louis Armstrong and the list goes on and on and on, Cannonball Adderley. And, for me, it was mostly about - the first step is sort of building the connection between my ear and my instrument. Right? So, if I can hear it, I should be able to sing it. Right? And if I can't, that's something to work on.

If I hear a line that's like [vocalising]

If I hear that in my head, I'm going to take the time I need to figure out how to sing that. So, I can hear that in my head and it's a lot faster, but then it needs to take the time to be like [vocalising]

And then speeding it up little by little.

[vocalising]

And then, eventually, it's going to get faster and faster and faster. So, the first step is going to be to solidify that connection between your ear and your instrument. And then, the next step is going to be to develop your ear so that you can hear more complex things. But, my first and foremost rule is if I can hear it, I want to be able to sing it.

AUDIENCE: As a singer, how much do you think about theory as opposed to being an instrumentalist? It's a completely different thought process, so how do you think about it?

MICHAEL MAYO: Sure. I tend to break that down into 2 categories - so, the performance space and the practise space. By that, I mean in the practise space, I am thinking about theory. Right? I'm thinking about when I sit down and play this 2-5-1, how am I going to hear the third, the seventh, the fifth, the ninth?

But, when I'm on stage, I'm not necessarily thinking about that. Or when I'm in the moment, when I'm singing, when I'm trying to be free, I'm not thinking about singing specific target tones, because often times we don't want to tether ourselves. We don't want to bog ourselves down in the moment of actually doing it. But, what we do want to do is in practise. we want to develop it to a point that we - it could becomes second nature. Right? So, we're not necessarily having to think about it. But, you have to think about it, in order to not think about it, if that makes sense.

Go ahead and try a loop. Cool.

[vocalising]

[beatboxing]

[harmonising]

(SINGING) Who knows what loves I've had?

Can I get a bit more bass, at least in the monitor, just to get some of those bass drum frequencies, those [beatboxing]

[vocalising]

(SINGING) Oh, who knows, who knows, who knows what the night has in store, what asking for more does? Who knows, who knows, who knows when the never before was? Who knows, who knows, who knows what the night has in store, what asking for more does? Who knows, who knows, who knows when the never before was?

[vocalising]


End of transcript