Carmen Rasmussen Herbert (she’s married now), who took sixth overall in American Idol 10 years ago, had a personal voice lesson with her voice teacher, Dean Kaelin, on Monday of last week at Salt Lake Community College.
Scales and arpeggios – along with other vocal techniques – filled the well-attended Student Event Center as Rasmussen and Kaelin taught and explained her experiences getting to and competing in Hollywood.
Kaelin, a voice teacher for potential pop and rock artists, has been teaching vocal training in Utah for 30 years. From his own vocal woes as a teenager, screaming to find the pitches he wanted, he has become a valuable asset to pop stars like Rasmussen, who worked with Kaelin during her debut on American Idol.
In explaining the desires of pop singers, Kaelin first presented a background for how any voice should be used properly.
“Your voice works like a piano,” he said. “You need to get used to using your voice how it’s supposed to be used.”
Kaelin added that most singers want to learn how to “hook up” low notes to high notes without having any breaks in the middle.
“Your voice has pitch,” Kaelin continued. “Your two vocal chords need to become one. Your voice is controlled by the thickness of the larynx or the vocal chords.”
Kaelin listed three additional points that good singers need to focus on. The first is getting the feeling of your voice into the song. Second is style – or the way you tell the story of the song. Finally he stressed the importance of stage presentation.
Rasmussen answered questions about her ” behind the scenes look” at being a contestant on American Idol with Kaelin’s vocal help. She described the experience as nerve racking but with many important lessons learned.
Being only 17 at her Hollywood debut, Rasmussen still had to take three hours of schooling everyday, while the other competitors could focus solely on the songs that they were singing.
“I would literally just finish my homework and then have to go on stage and sing,” she said.
Her teachers would FedEx homework to California and she would in turn FedEx her completed work back to them.
As to Rasmussen’s vocal training, she would conduct voice warm-ups and songs over the phone with Kaelin.
It was explained that the producers of American Idol would play mind games with the contestants, particularly with Rasmussen. On one occasion, after singing her song on stage, a producer pulled her aside and reported how terribly flat or off-key she had sung. In tears because of the criticism she heard, Rasmussen then went to talk with her vocal coach Kaelin, who had to reassure Rasmussen of her flawless performance.
Rasmussen admitted that she shouldn’t have believed the claims of her alleged failure on stage, but that there is a lot of pressure.
“It’s good to know what Hollywood is all about,” she added.
Amidst the ups and downs in Hollywood, Rasmussen related how her personal secrets and techniques gave her confidence on stage.
“Technique gives you the confidence,” Kaelin echoed.
“The vocal exercises really help,” Rasmussen added.
She would also drink a cap full of honey and olive oil to clear her throat before she sang.
“You need to find out a technique that makes you unique,” Kaelin concluded.
For Rasmussen, it was her ability to sing lower notes that other contestants could not.
“Some people struggle with hearing pitch, or your vocal chords don’t how to get to the pitch. But, take a weakness and work on it to make it good,” she said.
Visit deankaelin.com to contact Kaelin for questions or voice lessons.