This semester I adjudicated more than 60 vocal jazz ensembles at 5 different festivals in 5 different states. Here are some of the comments I repeated the most:

(in no particular order)

-Every singer is responsible for the time, just like the drummer and bassist.

-Jazz requires a conversational lyric delivery. Sing the words the way you would say them. Emphasize the most important syllables in a natural, speech-like way.

-You have to love the sound of the most dissonant interval in the chord.

-If you learned the notes wrong, being stylish doesn't matter.

-If you aren't singing in tune, nothing else you're doing is cool.

-You're in tune, but the vowels don't match.

-You got too loud too soon and too often.

-When you got quiet, you got wimpy.

-Try singing this ballad without the conductor.

-Rubato means wait longer between phrases. I shouldn't be able to tap the tempo along with you.

-Improvising soloists, you're too worried about note choice and not worried enough about time, rhythm, and compelling horizontal ideas.

-When you're improvising through multiple sections of the form, blur the seams. Don't stop in the last bar of section 1 and then start a new idea as section 2 begins.

-You're rushing the offbeats.

-Offbeat entrances weren't together.

-Find a way to show the groove physically, it helps us trust you (i.e. SNAP).

-This song needed one soloist, not four. Pick the best singer for the chart, then let them tell the whole story and develop their ideas.

-That little bit of organized movement wasn't necessary.

-That full-on choreography wasn't necessary.

-The hats weren't necessary.

-Don't overact or put on hyper-smiley personas. Let the music do the work.

-I probably wouldn't give this lyric to a middle school group (etc.).

-Your vowels are too tall (save it for concert choir).

-You're over-enunciating consonants (save it for concert choir).

-Neutral syllables are not text. Just use them to make the lines feel instrumental.

-These charts are too hard for this group.

-These charts are too easy for this group.

-Piano alone is not enough for this music. Beg/borrow/steal to get a rhythm section behind these singers.

-Have you checked out any recordings of this tune?...