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Master Classes

Belt It Out!!!

Master Class On the Fundamentals of Singing

With an emphasis on “Trouble-shooting” common problems, and “Belting”


Professional entertainers Rick Blackson and his wife, best friend and musical partner, Mary Jo Maluso, offer a Master Class on the fundamentals of singing. The couple supplements Rick's insightful instruction with entertaining demonstrations. Those who attend may simply observe, or get up in front of the class and "belt it out!" All who wish will get an opportunity to work one-on-one with Rick during the class. One-on-one time will vary depending on the number of participants in the class.


  • Help experienced singers as well as beginners to achieve a better sound

  • Learn how to “trouble- shoot” common problems

  • Some participants will increase their ability to project during the session!



Singing fundamentals and activities included in this master class:


  1. Breath

  2. Open Mouth/Open Throat – The Fundamental Vowel Sounds

  3. Sound Color

  4. Stage Deportment and Lyric Interpretation*

  5. What is Belt Voice Singing?

  6. Belt Voice Demonstration

  7. Voice Care: Do’s and Don’ts

  8. Troubleshooting Common Mistakes/Problems

  • Careless rehearsing

  • Tongue-tied, missing the same note, missing certain words

  • Failure to link a preparation breath to the preceding phrase

  • Intonation problems on the “in-between” notes

  • Failure to utilize fundamental vowel sounds to center pitch

  • Moving ahead on a difficult passage before “sinking it in,” and failure to link the passage to the preceding segment

  • Mistaking lyrics that are similar but not the same

  • Allowing nerves to wreck the performance, and dealing with dry mouth, shortness of breath, forgetfulness, fear, panic, etc.!

  9. Group Vocalizations, Breathing Exercise, and Tongue Twisters

10. Individual Instruction Observed by the Class


*Although included here, this is the focus of the Tell the Story Master Class offered by Rick


Bring to the Master Class:

  1. Note pad and pencil

  2. Recording device (ipad, iphone, digital recorder, tape cassette recorder, etc.) if you have one

  3. Sheet music or music book with song or songs you are interested in working on, or cd accompaniment if you prefer. (Bring both if you have them.) It’d be great if you bring several selections.

  4. A cd player and/or accompanist will be provided.



Tell the Story

Fine Tuning Your Ability to Interpret Lyrics and Perform a Song


Professional entertainers Rick Blackson and his wife, best friend and musical partner, Mary Jo Maluso, offer a Master Class on interpreting lyrics and performing a song.  The couple share their immense experience with you, and give you hands on instruction on the finer points of performing a song. Those who attend may simply observe, or benefit from the opportunity to work one-on-one with Rick during the class. This fast-paced class will be especially helpful to experienced singers who want to become better performers. Music Teachers and Directors will learn helpful teaching techniques by observing Rick at work.


  • learn how to “tell the story,” the fundamental element of any good performance

  • incorporate gestures, facial expressions, accenting and coloring words

  • when to sing long legato lines, and when to clip words

  • how to use such tools as body posture and finding contrasts in the lyrics

  • using breath and timing to induce a bigger response from your audience

  • how to “phrase” the lyrics to get the most subtle nuances of meaning and feeling

  • the secret of commanding attention before even saying or singing a word!


Keys to “telling the story” included in this master class:


  1. Command Attention

  2. The Meaning of the Lyrics

  3. Finding and Enhancing Contrasts in the lyrics/melody

  4. Eyes! Keeping Them Engaged

  5. Posture and Body Angles

  6. Facial Expression and Mugging

  7. Gestures

  8. Phrasing

  9. Accenting and Coloring Words

10. Timing

11. Subtle Nuances

12. Follow Through

13. In a Musical Comedy or Drama, the Song is the Scene

14. Remember that Music is Spiritual


Please Bring/Prepare the Following:

  • Note pad and pencil

  • Recording device (ipad, iphone, digital recorder, tape cassette recorder, etc.) if you have one for any part of the class you may find helpful to be recorded.

  • Ipad or laptop from which to share examples of performers who exhibit some or all of the elements we are focusing on.

  • Come to class with about a one minute segment each of two contrasting songs that suit you for this class.


Guidelines for choosing your songs:

  1. One serious, one comedic or contrasting. However, if you know you need work with a certain type of song, then it may make sense for both of your songs to be of a certain type.

  2. Please choose songs you already know, or are at least pretty familiar with - songs you can sing with relative ease. Our objective will be to utilize the time working on your performance of the song, not teaching it to you, or working on vocal technique. Please note: if you choose a song you’ve done “hundreds of times,” it could be very difficult to vary the way you perform it.

  3. Prepare to sing it a cappella or with CD accompaniment. Also, bring sheet music or copy from a music book if possible. If multiple pages, please tape them together or (better yet), place them in a 3-ring binder.

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