Saturday, October 14, 2017

When it seems like 2 hours since you got up to's just a long rotation

Updated June 12, 2021

¡Hola, mis cantantes! Lately I've had more than the usual number of singers challenge me on the rotation, saying I must have skipped them because it's been so long since they had a turn at the microphone. Fortunately, I can invite these singers to look at the list on my laptop and show them that they'll be up shortly. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to make the time go faster. As recently-departed Tom Petty tells us, "The waiting is the hardest part."

Karaoke Night One by Cameron Sczerba, aka DJ Cam (caution: strong language)
In the SMA Karaoke Club page on Facebook I posted a humorous video about how KJs (karaoke jockeys) feel when singers beg to be moved up on the list for any number of reasons—all of which boil down to a sense that "I'm more important than everyone else" or "I deserve special treatment even though it will inconvenience everyone else." I don't understand why anyone thinks that. Hey, ALL of you are equally special to me!

Sometimes I move people up in the list because they want to use their turn to sing "Happy Birthday" or "Las Mañanitas" to someone while the candles are still burning on the cake. I don't think anyone minds waiting a few minutes longer for that. But I won't move you up because you're leaving or because you were here earlier and feel you should sing more often.

Here's how the rotation works:
  1. Two factors determine the order of singers (the "rotation"): physical presence and the order in which I receive your song requests. You can send your song requests ahead of time if you like, but if someone else walks in before you and gives me a request, they'll sing first. 
  2. Please don't text me and say, "I'm on my way over, can you put me on the list?" That doesn't count as physical presence, even if you give me a song request. I will put you on the list once I see that you've arrived, and you will always have time to get settled and order a drink before your turn comes up.
  3. In one hour, there is time for 12-15 songs. If we have only 6 singers, everyone sings twice the first hour.
  4. By the second hour, usually we have at least 12-15 singers, and that means everyone sings only once, if at all.
  5. On a busy night when the rotation includes more than 15 singers, I do my best to be fair and not let one big table take up more than a quarter of an hour at once, even if they give me a dozen song requests. I try to break it up so we have singers taking turns from all around the room. Also, I take myself out of the rotation so you get more time to sing.
  6. NEW: Before the pandemic, if you walked in and gave me a song request just as the last singer in the rotation was up, you got to sing right away, but I'm changing that. Now, each new singer will be placed in the rotation just BEFORE the current singer. That means everyone who got there before you gets one more turn to sing (because you're at the end of that line), and everyone who gets there after you will sing after you. 
  7. HERE'S WHAT FEELS UNFAIR (BUT IT ISN'T): You arrive early to beat the crowd, and you get to sing right away, maybe even two or three times. Then a big group arrives and they all give me song requests. Suddenly you're waiting 60-90 minutes between turns, and before you know it, the night is gone and you've only done half the songs you requested. Maybe your friends beg you to sing one more but you never get to because the rotation gets too long and the show is over. THE GOOD NEWS IS, new singers are now being placed in rotation before the current singer (which may be you). But after that it may be a longer wait, and we may have to close before your next turn comes up. That's why it's never a good idea to save your best song for last, and it's why I cannot accommodate requests to "close out the night" with your song if it's not your turn.
    Karaoke is complicated. This is what I'm dealing with while
    a singer is yelling into my ear in rapid Spanish about a song
    they want me to get on YouTube, which I won't do because I
    operate a piracy-free show. I do my best to be polite, but...
  8. As your host, I reserve the right to change my mind about how the rotation works. But no matter what, there will always be one constant: more singers equals a longer wait. Usually more singers also equals more FUN, though, so it's a good trade-off.
  9. I also reserve the right to cut off new song requests once it appears we have enough to fill out the night (usually about an hour before closing time). 
  10. Duplicate song requests are not permitted. If you submit a request and then hear someone else sing it before you, it means they got their request in before you, and you must choose another song. Remember, you can always change your song when you get to the stage, so don't worry if we don't get to all of your requests in one night. They'll be in your queue for next time!
Now that I've explained how the rotation works, I have TWO FAVORS to ask you, dear cantantes:

First, if you hear someone complaining about how long it takes for them to have a turn, or badmouthing me because they think I'm unfair or that I skipped them or ignored their request, tell them to please talk to ME, since I'm the only one who can show them when their turn is coming up. Shout-out to Barb Goushaw here, as she has explained the rotation to newbies several times, and I consider her a Karaoke Annie Concierge for that reason.

Florida KJ Harry Smith, aka Harryoke,
sticks this sign on his laptop when
customers get drunk and obnoxious.
(Note: Even KJs make mistakes, and if do I inadvertently skip someone, I get them up as quickly as I can. Also, you'd be surprised at how many times I get a request for a song with no name on it, and I do my best to figure out who gave it to me, but you need to fill out the slip or I have no way of knowing that you want to sing.)

Second, if you have suggestions for how to run the rotation better than I do, please let me know. There are two generally accepted practices in karaoke: (1) add singers to the end of the rotation no matter when they arrive, and they sing in turn even if it's right away (so you think you're up next and then all of a sudden you have to wait 20 minutes for five new singers to take their turns)—this is what I did pre-pandemic; or (2) add new singers right before the current singer on stage—which I think will work better now.

Also, I like to show a numbered list of singers who have a request in, so (A) you know if your turn is coming up soon, and (B) if your name doesn't show up when it's supposed to, you know you're out of songs in queue and you should hurry up and put in a request. 

I could show several names with or without songs, but
then some people think they can sing even if they haven't
put in a song request. That's confusing and causes delays.

Love karaoke but feel you never get to sing enough?
The answer is to hire me for a private party, or sing on your own at home with karaoke videos on YouTube. There is nothing illegal about private home use of copyrighted material. But then you won't have an audience—and it's the crowd and the camaraderie that make karaoke so much fun, right? With a private party, you control the number of singers through your invitation list. For more information on private parties by Karaoke Annie Entertainment, click here.

Comments? Questions? Leave 'em for me below. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Know your voice type so you can choose the right songs

Characteristics – Variables in Determining Voice Type

Figuring out your voice type is not only a matter of looking at your vocal range, but at a number of different characteristics. For example, vocal tessitura and timbre can be more important than range. This is usually the case with sopranos and mezzo-sopranos; they might have the same range but mezzo-sopranos have a lower tessitura and darker timbre. (Definitions follow.)

All together, your voice type is a result of the following vocal variables:

  • range – the notes your body can produce
  • weight – light voices, bright and agile; heavy voices, powerful, rich, and darker
  • tessitura – part of the range which is most comfortable to sing
  • timbre – unique voice quality and texture
  • transition points – points where you change from chest, to middle, to head register
  • vocal registers – how extended each register is
  • speech level – speaking range
  • physical characteristics
  • Voice Types by Range and Tessitura

    If you sing in a choir or take voice lessons, you have probably already been classified as soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto (alto) if you are a woman, and a countertenor, tenor, baritone, or bass if you are a man. But are you really sure you’ve been classified correctly? Test your voice according to the following specifications.


    Soprano is the highest female voice type. There are many types of sopranos like the coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, the soubrette etc. which differ in vocal agility, vocal weight, timbre, and voice quality. All of the sopranos have in common the ability to sing higher notes with ease. A typical soprano can vocalize B3 to C6, though a soprano coloratura can sing a lot higher than that, reaching F6, G6 etc.

    It is widely thought that the higher a singer can sing, the better the singer is. This couldn’t be further from the truth as range is defined by our physique and size of the vocal cords, not not how professional we are.

    Soprano Voice Types
    • Soubrette - Young, light, bright
    • Lyric Coloratura Soprano - High, bright, flexible
    • Dramatic Coloratura Soprano - High, dark, flexible
    • Lyric Soprano - Warm, legatto, full
    • Character Soprano - Bright, metallic, theatrical
    • Spinto /Young Dramatic Soprano - Powerful, young, full
    • Dramatic Soprano - Powerful, dark, rich
    Some famous sopranos: Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Sarah Brightman, Maria Callas, Nathalie Dessay, Montserrat Caballé, Barbara Hendricks.

    It is widely thought that the higher a singer can sing, the better the singer is. This couldn’t be further from the truth as range is defined by our physique and size of the vocal cords, not not how professional we are. 


    Mezzo-Soprano is the second highest female voice type. In a choir, a mezzo-soprano will usually sing along the sopranos and not the altos and will be given the title of Soprano II. When the sopranos split in half, she will sing the lower melody as her timbre is darker and tessitura lower than the sopranos. A typical mezzo-soprano can vocalize from G3 to A5, though some can’t sing that high, and some can sing as high as a typical soprano. 

    Mezzo-Soprano Voice Types 

    • Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano - Agile, rich, bright
    • Lyric Mezzo-Soprano - Strong, flexible, lachrymose
    • Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano - Rich, powerful, imposing

    Some famous mezzo-sopranos: Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Madonna, Leona Lewis, Cecilia Bartoli, Cathy Berberian, Nadine Denize. 

    Contralto (Alto)

    Contralto is the lowest female voice type. In a choir, contraltos are commonly known as altos and sing the supporting melody to the sopranos. This doesn’t mean that contraltos are not as important. On the contrary, because true altos are hard to find, a true alto has greater chances of a solo career than a soprano. A contralto is expected to be able to vocalize from E3 to F5; however, the lower her tessitura, the more valuable she is. I have come across many women who have been classified as altos in their choir, though their voice type is really that of a mezzo-soprano or soprano. Some choir directors, instead of spending time to work with women who sing off tune, decide to have them sing along with the altos, thinking they will blend in. This practice can be very detrimental, especially for young girls who strain their voices in order to sing lower than they can, and can produce irreversible damage.

    Contralto Voice Types 

    • Dramatic Alto - Powerful, full, metallic
    • Low Contralto - Low, full, warm

    Some famous altos:  Adele, Amy Winehouse, Annie Lennox, Marian Anderson, Janet Baker, Kathleen Ferrier, Maureen Forrester


    Countertenor is the rarest of all voice types.  A countertenor is a male singer who can sing as high as a soprano or mezzo-soprano utilizing natural head resonance. Their ability to sing as high as C6 is admired by religious music connoisseurs. Countertenor is not an operatic voice type, as historically, it was the castrati (male singers castrated before puberty) who would be chosen for the female operatic roles – it was not proper for women to sing in the opera. Instead, countertenors were popular in religious choirs, where women were also not allowed to participate.

    Some famous countertenors (see definition later in this article): Philippe Jaroussky, Farinelli, Klaus Nomi, Carlos


    Tenor is the highest male voice type you will find in a typical choir. Though it is the voice type with the smallest range (it barely covers 2 octaves from C3 to B4) tenors are the most sought after choir singers for two major reasons: (1) there aren’t as many men singing in choirs to begin with, and (2) most men, singers or not, fall under the baritone voice type. In the opera, the primo uomo is most often a tenor, and you will know he is a tenor because of the ringing quality in his voice. A true tenor has a high tessitura, above the middle C4, and uses a blend of head resonance and falsetto, as opposed to falsetto alone. Many a baritone will try to use this technique to classify as tenor and some will be successful; you’ll know who they are because of their red faces when trying to sing the high notes in the tenor melodic line.

    Tenor Voice Types 

    • Countertenor - High, agile, powerful
    • Lyric Tenor - Soft, warm, flexible
    • Acting Tenor - Flexible, theatrical, light
    • Dramatic Tenor - Full, low, stamina
    • Character Tenor - Bright, powerful, theatrical

    Some famous tenors: Freddy Mercury, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Jackson, Roberto Alagna, Enrico Caruso


    Baritone is the most common male voice type. Though common, baritone is not at all ordinary. On the contrary, the weight and power of his voice, give the baritone a very masculine feel, something that in the opera has been used in roles of generals and, most notably, noblemen. Don Giovanni, Figaro, Rigoletto, and Nabucco are all baritones. In a choir, a baritone will never learn about the particulars of his voice, since he will have to sing either with the tenors or the basses. Most baritones with a high tessitura choose to sing with the tenors, and respectively, the ones with a lower tessitura sing with the basses. Their range is anywhere between G2 and a G4 but can extend in either way. If you sing tenor and can’t reach the higher notes with ease, or sing bass and can’t reach the lower notes naturally, you’re most probably a baritone and you shouldn’t worry about it.

    Baritone Voice Types 

    • Lyric Baritone -  Smooth, flexible, sweet
    • Cavalier Baritone - Brilliant, warm, agile
    • Character Baritone - Flexible, powerful, theatrical
    • Dramatic Baritone - Powerful, full, imposing

    Some famous baritones: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, Gabriel Bacquier, Tito Gobbi

    Bass is the lowest male voice type, and thus a bass sings the lowest notes humanly possible. I tend to think of the deep bass notes as comparable to those of a violoncello, though some charismatic basses can hit notes lower than those of a cello. A bass will be asked to sing anywhere between D2 and E4. A cello’s lowest note is a C2. As with every extreme, it’s really hard to find true basses and it’s almost impossible in the younger ages where the male bodies are still developing.

    Bass Voice Types 

    • Character Bass - Full, rich, stamina
    • Acting Bass - Flexible, agile, rich
    • Heavy Acting Bass - Full, rich, imposing
    • Serious Bass - Mature, rich, powerful

    Some famous bass singers: Ivan Rebroff, Jules Bastin, Tom Krause, René Pape

    (excerpted from "What’s My Voice Type? The Different Voice Types and How to Distinguish Them" and "25 Voice Types and the Fach System. What’s Your Vocal Category?" by Olga Banis,, published on Sept. 2, 2012, and Sept. 17, 2012, respectively, with illustration and examples of famous singers taken from the Karaoke Version newsletter of Nov. 2015)

    Thursday, January 5, 2017

    Happy New Year 2017!

    Happy New Year, San Miguel de Allende karaoke fans! On January 13, Karaoke Annie Entertainment will celebrate our 4th anniversary of Friday nights at The Beer Company (Ancha de San Antonio #17) and we may be starting soon at a new venue on Tuesday nights—stay tuned!

    Some of you have requested that I post the complete songbook in PDF form because it’s been a while since we’ve updated the lists on this site, so here they are! Links are below. Let me know directly or in the comments if you have any issues accessing them.

    In 2016 we added several hundred new songs in Spanish and English. We upgraded our microphones. We welcomed local celebrities Johnny Favourite and Lady Zen, as well as world-touring Dutch cabaret performer Frans Bloem. And we supported new Beer Company owner Harold James with a great crowd every Friday night all year long! Special thanks to Victor Guzman and Aarón Romo for subbing for me during my trips to the U.S. in June-July and in November-December. And thanks to all of you for showing up, singing, eating, drinking, and contributing to the tip jar—you make it all possible!

    Here’s to a whole new year of musical merrymaking in San Miguel de Allende. ¡Salud! ¡Viva México!

    Anne, aka Karaoke Annie

    Songbook PDFs

    (also a few holiday songs in French and German)

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    It's a very karaoke Halloween!

    Jueves 29 de Octubre / Thursday, October 29

    Viernes 30 de Octubre / Friday, October 30

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    Bienvenidos a La Malquerida! Vamos a cantar!

    Hola, mi gente! Estamos celebrando el más nuevo bar de karaoke en San Miguel de Allende: Merendero La Malquerida! Está ubicada en Salida a Celaya #81, junto a Mario’s Mariscos. Es un lugar muy ambiente con bar completo y comida rica. Hay karaoke todos los Sábados a partir de las 8:30pm hasta la 1:30am. Nos vemos en La Malquerida!

    Friday, May 1, 2015

    Paddy's Bar ¡el nuevo lugar para cantar!

    Oye, oye! Vengan a Paddy's Bar los Jueves a partir de las 8pm para cantar con Karaoke Annie. Disfruten de cervezas, cocteles y vinos y el menú completo de La Burger, Trattoria Romana, Bhaji India, y más. La inauguración el 30 de Abril fue todo éxito...los esperamos el 7 de Mayo y cada Jueves!

    Paddy's está ubicado en Calle Cuadrante #32 a un costado de la 21única.

    Loreto y Paolina

    Thursday, February 5, 2015

    Singing show tunes helps fight off dementia

    A recent research study found that those suffering from moderate to severe dementia did particularly well singing show tunes from movies and musicals such as 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'The Sound of Music' and 'Oklahoma!' in group settings and had a marked improvement in their remembering skills versus those who simply listened during the sing-alongs. 
    BY   NEW YORK DAILY NEWS (Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 8:01 AM)
    Julie Andrews from ‘The Sound of Music.’ Researchers found singing along
    with show tunes helped with dementia.
    The hills are alive with the sound of music, which could help people with Alzheimer's stave off the effects of the debilitating disease. 

    A study by U.S. scientists has shown that the brain function of those suffering from dementia can be improved if they belt out their favorite show tunes. 

    Researchers working with elderly residents at an East Coast care home found in a four-month long study found that people who sang their favorite songs showed a marked improvement compared to those who just listened. Among the songs sung during 50-minute sessions were hits from "The Wizard of Oz," "Oklahoma!" and "The Sound of Music." 

    The most improvement was among those sufferers with moderate to severe dementia.

    Jane Flinn, one of the scientists involved in the study who works at George Mason University in Virginia, concluded singing was beneficial.

    “Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful,” she said.

    “The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

    A scene from the musical ‘Oklahoma!’ Seniors who participated in a show tunes
    sing-along showed improvement in their memory skills.