I wasn't supposed to be a music artist. But I believe you must live the life you imagine for yourself (& dream BIG). Join me on this journey!


As a spectator during vocal competitions, I tend to find myself oozing with lots of enthusiasm. 


I can’t help it when I am watching a young contestant do something I’ve been so passionate about for nearly 20 years and not notice the things that she could possibly improve on. 

Hear me out.  I'm not here to pick on others just for the sake of picking on others.

I ooze, because I have valuable knowledge and I know I can help.    

So, for this year’s North Carolina Hmong New Year, I volunteered as a guest vocal judge for the singing contest.  My goal in judging is to help young, rising Hmong singers with their singing abilities and their confidence to pursue music. 

That’s literally what I wrote to the entertainment organizer.

Although I took the longest as a judge to fill out the score sheet during the contest, I later found out that the contestants would never see my remarks.  (Yes, I was disappointed too.)*

[*Update: Shortly after this blog was posted, a couple contestants informed me that the organization sent them their score sheets.  YES!]

That’s why I’m sharing with you the top 4 vocal performance issues (VPI) that I witnessed this past NC Hmong New Year. 

Again, I'm not here to pick on others. 

This blog post exists, in hopes that the contestants and you, whom may have aspirations to compete one day, will find it and gain some valuable insight to better your future performances.

 Note: These are actual remarks I made on some of the contestants’ score sheets

So from a passionate singer and vocal judge to you, my aspiring vocal friend, these are the top 4 vocal performance issues for Hmong vocal contestants.  



Appearance is crucial.  Why?

Your body is your vocal instrument’s physical representation.  And to perform, you must have an audience.  The audience will see your body first before you even open your mouth.    

So, how can you present your voice on a physical level that best represents your vision as a vocal performer to your audience?  What would your voice look like if it were visible to the human eye? 

If that’s going over your head, think about your favorite vocal artist.  Before she even grabs the mic, what makes her stand out as she walks onstage, appearance wise? 

Take that knowledge and apply that to your own stage performance. 



As a vocal performer, lyrics are the vessel of which your voice travels on.  Make sure you know your lyrics by heart before your big moment on stage. 

No music stands. 

No crumpled papers. 

No smartphones.  (If your instrumental is on your smartphone, please make it as discreet as possible.  Do not drag your smartphone all the way to the center of the stage.  I just need to see you.) 

Just you. 



Use it.  Become friends with it.  This is your time.  Take it.  OWN it.

I will be honest.  Many of the contestants stood in one spot—regardless if the song was upbeat, slow, dramatic, or fun. 

(Yes, it did get a bit awkward when it was an upbeat song.) 

People are willing to reserve their time to watch you and only you. 

Make this performance worth it by using every corner of the stage, because there’s an audience member at every corner.  Make them want to see you again onstage.  Again…

Use it.  Become friends with it.  This is your time.  Take it.  OWN it.  



This is soooooo important, because it will make or break your performance. 

Yes, some of the contestants’ song choices broke their overall performance for me, despite their vocal abilities. 

So how do you choose the right song?

Choose one that…

  • best showcases your vocal range (keep those notes you can't reach yet at home),
  • you feel connected to (not your mom’s favorite song that she wants to hear you sing), and
  • you have 100% confidence in (and I mean a full-out-no-hiding-behind-the-music-stand-kind-of-confidence).

So there you have it: the TOP 4 VPIs that I think today’s Hmong vocal contestants can improve on.  If you're competing within the next few weeks at a Hmong New Year, I wish you GOOD LUCK!

Please leave a comment below with any questions you have as well.  I’d be happy to share some more insight, if I can!

Until next time…

Dream BIG,

New Year Blues