maye cavallaro

musician, singer, artist, storyteller

beginning jazz for singers

Objective: To help the artist create a focused, relaxed, skilled, unique performance.

Some particular skills we'll work on include:

  1. ability to think on your feet
  2. command of the material
  3. clear idea of what you want to say
  4. awareness of the visual (what you look like)
  5. ability to “be in the moment”
  6. able to control destructive tendencies such as too self critical
  7. choosing appropriate material
  8. awareness of verbal and non verbal info
  9. being engaged

Musician skills

  1. chart writing
  2. reading music
  3. counting out, explaining
  4. musical terminology
  5. being in time, in tune
  6. knowing the form
  7. familiarity with grooves, beats
  8. knowledge of musical history

Singer skills

  1. voice quality, tone
  2. ability to express emotion musically
  3. regular practice schedule
  4. learning a song
  5. technical challenge of  your instrument
  6. singing in time, in tune
  7. dynamics, phrasing

Artist skills

  1. awareness of your own unique skills, desires, hopes etc.
  2. ability to access emotional memory
  3. overcoming fear of discovery
  4. creative work shows sensitivity and imagination
  5. commitment
  6. self awareness

Storyteller skills

  1. imagination
  2. subtext
  3. patter
  4. choosing material
  5. energy


Class Schedule

Our classes meet every tuesday evening from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. It is important to be on time for class and be ready to start at 6:30. Make sure you read the "Agreements" below. Before the first class please make a written list to give to me of songs you might like to sing in this class. It's just a start, your list will probably change. We'll be choosing, working on and performing 2 songs each for the final performance. Looking forward to a great quarter!

If you are continuing on in class you may have already done some of these exercises. Go over them again and see if anything has changed since you did them the last time.

Download syllabus for printing

Week 1 (sept. 18)


Handouts and preparation for class for Week 1:
(Print and bring to class)

Agreements for class
A Well-rounded jazz singer
Learning a song
Song Preparation
Vocal Warm-up

Music MP.3's for download

1. Vocal Warm Up

2. Call & Response

To download click on the title. When file appears as a bar across the page go to your file menu and choose 'Save page as" and the file will download to your hard drive. From there you can drag it into itunes or play it from the desktop. If you are on a Mac you can hold down the option key as you clikc on the title and it will download to your disc.

In class Week 1:

Introducing and singing some basic voice exercises to get us started. We'll talk about jazz singing in general and we'll start work on the song "Angel Eyes."

Songfiles and leadsheets available after class.

To download click on the title. When file appears as a bar across the page go to your file menu and choose 'Save page as" and the file will download to your hard drive. From there you can drag it into itunes or play it from the desktop. If you are on a Mac you can hold down the option key as you clikc on the title and it will download to your disc.



1. Complete the exercises in writing about defining yourself as a performer and artist.

Developing Your Own Style

Three Descriptive Words

2. Make a notebook for yourself that has our class materials and any music that you have for songs you may want to do.

3. If you have a recording device you might want to use it to record your own performances to refer back to.

4. Continue your work on "Angel Eyes" memorizing lyric and melody for next week's class.

5. Begin thinking about and gathering material for your song choices.

Week 2 (Sept 25)


Handouts and preparation for class for Week 2:
(Print and bring to class)

Choosing Material
A list of common standards
Finding the Right key
Transposing music
Key signature and note names
Writing a "Friendly Lead Sheet"

In class Week 2:

We'll go over hand outs on choosing material and talk about ways to find tunes. We'll discuss transposing and transpose a simple chart into another key.
We'll listen to different "grooves and feels" and practice singing "Angel Eyes" in different feels. We'll talk about phrasing and try out some different ways to work out phrasing. Please have material memorized.



1. Learn and memorize "Close Your Eyes" on backtrack page Click here

1. Listen to the different "grooves and feels" on the website: Click here

2. Do this exercise on Writing an Arrangement and bring it in written form into class.

Download the pdf "Creating an Arrangement"

Listen to these 5 arrangements of
"I'm Gonna laugh You Right Out of My Life"

  1. What is the overall mood of the piece?
  2. How does the intro help to create this overall mood?
  3. How long is the intro?
  4. What is the groove of the tune? (Ballad, swing, bossa nova)
  5. What is the instrumentation?
  6. What is the song form?
  7. How do they create variety in the piece? Rhythm breaks, kicks, modulations?
  8. How do they end the song?
  9. How does the vocalist create variety and make different sections sound different?


Week 3 (Oct 2)

In class Week 3:

We'll visit the song you've chosen and check on key, tempo, etc to make sure it suits you. We'll be working with karaoke back tracks in class.



1. Continue working on your first song to present in class on week 4. Figure out what your best key is and begin thinking about how you would like to arrange this tune. Ask me if you need help finding the music. Be prepared to sing your song without lyrics, and say your lyrics without music.

Handout: Writing a Friendly Lead Sheet

Week 4 (Oct 9)

Handouts and preparation for class for Week 4: (Print and bring to class)

Revisit Song Preparation if you didn't download it
This is a sheet on "Sitting in" that is relevant to your fist meeting with an accompanist

Week 4: We'll be joined by our accompanist, Bryan Seet, and present our first song for the class. We'll be focussing on how to give direction to the accompanist, how to count out our tune, how to make decisions about the arrangement.

Be prepared to have done your research on your tune, be able to supply information about the form, have a clear idea of tempo, sing only the melody, say the words without singing, have a printed lyric sheet. You may make changes in your arrangements, keys, feel and the like but it is best to have a starting point. You are not here to learn the tune but to work it out with another musician. Also take notes or record your session with the accompanist so you can refer to it later.

1. Continue working on your songs for class. Refer to your notes about how your first rehearsal went and work on those details. Continue work on your second song.

Week 5: (0ct 16) We'll be joined by our accompanist and work on song our song.



Week 6: (Oct 6) Class work with Maye on performance and subtext. Karaoke tracks.

Working with the band

Week 7: (October 30) Work with Bryan Seet

Live Performance


Week 8: (Nov. 6) Work with our accompanist Bryan Seet

Week 9: ( Nov. 13) Work with Maye on Patter, set list, introductions.

November 20 Week off for Thankgiving break.


Week 10: (Nov. 27) Dress Rehearsal with accompanist

December 5th- Performance!!!!! Yayyy, finally.