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Singers with terrible pitch .. ear training or voice training needed? Ribbon Microphones
Old 9th November 2009
  #61
I like your post a lot, Don.. makes a lot of sense to me, and good ideas as well re: joining choir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
The ability to sing well is a combination of nature and nurture. So, all of those folks who insist on taking sides in that particular debate, chill out. You are both right (and wrong).

For the OP:

You aren't going to get a good representation of the singer's abilities from a single impromptu a capella performance. That's just too much pressure and not enough intonation support to be fair. There are really good singers who fade flat after singing a capella long enough. Sit down with an instrument (piano, guitar) and see how she does.

Now, if you want to turn her into a really good singer, that ain't going to happen during a recording session, and it ain't going to happen in a few days. Teaching someone how to properly use their voice takes time. Months, years. So, if you consider hiring a vocal coach, don't expect to see miraculous improvement in time for the recording session.

If the female singer in question can't afford a vocal coach, here's a novel idea: Have her join a church choir. Make sure it isn't one of those choirs where everybody gets to sing whatever they want, or is limited to "call and response" singing with the preacher. I'm talking traditional SATB arrangements, classical pieces, etc. Even if the choir director is not a good vocal coach, it is great practice, and the process of learning those pieces teaches you control. Plus, she gets to sing in public without being the center of attention. Everybody ought to do some of that.

Good luck.
Old 10th November 2009
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raider View Post
VOX is the hardest instrument to play well.

I have a much harder time with guitar.

MUCH harder.


Gregory Scott - ubk
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Old 10th November 2009
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotekells View Post
Thanks for all the thoughts and input folks!

I just want to know what I'm getting into before I take on this PRO BONO project for a friend.

I already believe with my own coaching ability I can make her sound "good" if the right material is chosen.

What I was really wondering, is how far away (if even possible) am I from getting a star sound out of her (I don't mean wowing people with a stadium performance.. more like laboring for 2 days straight to get a recording that sounds very, very impressive).
Ok, I'm going to tell you this from the perspective of a music major. I have a BM in Classical and Jazz Guitar Performance, and have spent several years of my life with VERY talented singers. Not just opera or classical singers, I mean people who can sing like rock stars.

Vocal/Ear training can either:
Make a naturally talented singer sound great, and tighten up small issues most wouldn't even notice.

Or:

Make a not-so-talented singer sound ok.

IMO, you probably won't get a "star" or "impressive" sound out of a person that can't even sing a line without getting off pitch. This type of person needs at least several months of ear training AND voice lessons to get to a place where she's ready to record something. The world is full of people who can kinda sing (sounds like your client), but truly good singers are hard to find. But it's a much better use of time to try to find a great singer, than to try to make a great singer out of a mediocre one.

IMO, I would NOT do a pro bono thing with this type of singer... It will likely be a complete waste of your time. If you were getting paid, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but doing it for free assumes that you are looking to get something on the back end, which is probably not going to happen with this type of singer...

Just tell them to come back after they've had 6 months of voice lessons. You probably will never hear from them again.....
Old 10th November 2009
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LimeMusic View Post
...but doing it for free assumes that you are looking to get something on the back end, which is probably not going to happen with this type of singer...


If you expect something on the back end, that's not 'free', that's 'payment deferred.' Totally different ballgame.

In my experience, when people do something for free it's down to some combination of 1) a desire to simply be generous and of service, 2) a desire to learn or get some other non-monetary form of compensation out of the process, and/or 3) the understanding that they're not actually in a position to charge anyone, either because they haven't the clout or the skills.


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Old 10th November 2009
  #65
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in my experience. if a singer cant sing, they cant sing.and no amount of training is gonna fix it. it may get better...but they'll still be 'not good'

Old 10th November 2009
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotekells View Post
Thanks for all the thoughts and input folks!

I think she is less hopeless than I make her out to be, but I just want to know what I'm getting into before I take on this PRO BONO project for a friend.
I've only heard her sing acapella (both live for me, and a ****ty "in the washroom" recording as well).

Having the guitar track or whatever to maintain pitch reference I'm sure will make things better right off the bat.

I already believe with my own coaching ability I can make her sound "good" if the right material is chosen.

What I was really wondering, is how far away (if even possible) am I from getting a star sound out of her (I don't mean wowing people with a stadium performance.. more like laboring for 2 days straight to get a recording that sounds very, very impressive).

I think I will just have take a shot, and feel it out from there. I don't have a problem being honest going in.. so if she's really too far from being saved, I guess that'll be the outcome. But maybe there will be good surprises once the ball gets rolling. I try to have positive outlook

dude, dont do it. your in for a train wreck, and possibly the loss of a friend. i mean it...at the end of the 3rd lession you'll begin to wonder "what else could i be doing with my time?"

please please please....save yourself the heart ache and pain. DONT DO IT
Old 10th November 2009
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
The singer with a pitch problem will always have that problem.

And singers with good pitch had good pitch out of the starting gate. If you find an early demo of any great singer, they'll be on pitch. But the person with pitch problems will have a never-ending battle.
This just isn't true.

I teach voice, the people who have good pitch out of the starting gate, just posses "naturally" a frame work internally with which to quantify pitch.

People who have no such frame work can be given one and an accurate one at that. Kodaly system of movable tonic sol-fa is one such system and very effective it is.

I have achieved amazing results will pupils of poor to average pitch.

I know it can be taught, I do it all the time. I have pupils who can now record a track with accurate pitch where previuosly they could not.

It's true some people posses this ability naturally, but NOT exclusively!

Best
TMY
Old 10th November 2009
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotekells View Post
What the fundamental approach to teaching someone to hear better?

I'd like to help someone who has aspirations in singing, and a good voice, but doesn't hear so well (tone deaf haha).

They can carry the tune to some extent, but not cohesively and it seems they can't go a whole line (wow) before there's an pitch intonation issue.. then it'll go back on track, but fall off again any given moment.

Surely if the person is made aware that this is the issue, and works hard some "some steps" there could be good progress made?

Ummm.. what the hell are those steps though? Singing scales and regular voice exercises, or are ear excises maybe more relevant?

Thanks for your thoughts.. I want to be hopeful this can be taught, but it's also clear to a degree this is something people have (hear) or they don't
I`ve been directing choirs for 20 years, if someone is tone deaf, you cannot do anything to help them. I`ve tried. Lots of people need to work on their breathing first and foremost. That will regulate a lot of those slightly off pitches.
A nice exercise to do is have the singer hold one note, for example a C while you play a chord progression underneath like C / a- / F / C. Then move up the scale to C#, etc...

This gets the singer used to hearing that one note and feeling it. Sometimes, you can train someone until you`re blue in the face and they still don`t get it. Its not that they aren`t trying, its just that singing is truly a gift. You can work on it but some people just cannot do it. I know this is not politically correct but its true.
Old 10th November 2009
  #69
I suggest a career move. Just because you have a nice voice doesn't mean God also handed out the talent to use it.

Perhaps voiceover work?

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 10th November 2009
  #70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Turner View Post
I've noticed, in some cases, singers who are so "overly emotional" and "in their own head," getting off on their own *sound* when singing, they totally lose any ability to hear how their own voice relates to the track (or band they are singing in), and it's a lack of concentration that's part of the reason their pitch goes out the window--to the point where it's borderline atonal. (Same thing with rhythm/timing.) I've seen some of these people, when asked to really chill and concentrate, and not get "soooo into it," make some improvements with intonation. Not 100% improved (or even close), but a clear improvement, bordering on "useable."
I think this is VERY relevant to the person I'm speaking about. I think they may be too wrapped up and getting "all crazy with it" (melisma and vibrato) and lost touch with the foundation...
Old 10th November 2009
  #71
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First, I'm glad there was some value to you in my earlier post about church choirs, Coyotekells.

Second, regarding the excess of "getting into it," I'm afraid that some of the younger singers these days (particularly the "diva-esque" singers)believe that the ability to sing everything EXCEPT the melody is what makes you a great singer. They have picked this up like previous generations picked up their peculiar ways of singing: by listening to the heroes of the day and parroting those styles.

True story: A few years ago, I sang the National Anthem before a baseball game at our local minor league team's stadium. I sang it pretty straight; think Art Garfunkel in terms of delivery. I got a great response, but I'm convinced from some of the comments I received that people are actually shocked to just hear the straight melody of that song without a bunch of vocal acrobatics thrown in. Every other singer they had heard at the ballpark in previous weeks was singing circles around the melody, but never just the melody itself. It was a pleasant change for them to just hear the song the way it was written.

If this girl, like so many others, has grown up listening to divas who sing 100 notes instead of the 10 that make up the melody, you might have some serious work cut out for you. Good luck.
Old 10th November 2009
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCtoDaylight View Post
I studied with this guy, and he really helped me a lot:

VOICELESSON.COM - MARK BAXTER VOCAL STUDIOS


He has you do scales and all, which should help with being on-key, but also puts a lot of focus on learning to relax and stay loose and isolate the muscles that affect pitch from the surrounding muscles. It's common for singers to tense up, and have their tongue and neck muscles start pulling on their larynx, which messes up their pitch, which makes them more tense, etc.

Anyway, the books and CDs on that site might be a useful tool.
I'm taking video lessons from Mark right now .
Old 10th November 2009
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
If you expect something on the back end, that's not 'free', that's 'payment deferred.' Totally different ballgame.

In my experience, when people do something for free it's down to some combination of 1) a desire to simply be generous and of service, 2) a desire to learn or get some other non-monetary form of compensation out of the process, and/or 3) the understanding that they're not actually in a position to charge anyone, either because they haven't the clout or the skills.


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
Quite true. I think I just assume that if someone is taking a pro bono gig trying to find out whether a singer with some issues can be developed and coached into giving stellar performances, they are looking to get something out of it later, which is what I was warning against.

It's a good point that I overlooked, if you're just doing it as a learning experience for yourself or to help out a friend, understanding going in that nothing may come of it, then sure, go for it!
Old 10th November 2009
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum View Post
I'm taking video lessons from Mark right now .

He's great he taught half my old band(s) to sing when I lived in
Boston. He had a great band called Restless Souls back in the day
Old 10th November 2009
  #75
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I personally don't see what the big deal is getting a singer to sing in tune.
There are atleast 5 good methods to get them right on without even using pitch correction on the final takes. It's all coaching and guidence
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