Some simple “tech” can support your vocal goals –says Kim Chandler.
There is a wide range of very affordable apps available these days for a number of different devices, with more and more being added all the time.
Many of these are free.
In my final article for this VoiceCouncil residency, I’d like to introduce you to the kinds of apps I use in my teaching studio – you may like to use in your practice studio.
1. Keyboard apps: I use the free “Virtuoso” piano app. I use it in Skype lessons and recording sessions where there isn’t easy access to a keyboard for giving starting notes and working out the keys of songs.
2. Metronome apps: I use the user-friendly, free “Steinway & Sons” app for working out the BPM (i.e. beats per minute) of songs and for incrementally speeding up or slowing down articulation and vocal agility exercises.
3. Decibel apps: I use the free “Decibels” app when I want to know how loud a gig is. I also use it to help singers who are either singing significantly too softly or loudly to help them “see” their current vocal volume; then I set an ideal sound pressure level for them to work to.
4. Harmonising apps: the “Sing Harmonies” free app features four singing ‘avatars’ that you can solo out to learn each part and then combine as you wish, e.g. you can have three of the parts running and you provide the missing one live.
5. Ear training/music theory apps: there’s an array of apps that teach and test musical pattern knowledge for learning intervals, scales, modes, chords, e.g. “Mode Quiz”, “Ear Training” and “Better Ears”. I’ve been known to do these when I’m travelling on the London Underground to keep myself amused when I’m away from wi-fi (I’m not sure my fellow travellers always appreciate it though!).
There are also a range of pitch-matching apps for improving pitch accuracy and vocal warm-up & practice routine apps that can be programmed to suit your specific range and goals.
It’s been great being your vocal coach in residency this month; I am absolutely sure you will love your next vocal coach in residence: Dane Chalfin.
Are you an Android user wondering why we recommend so many iOS apps? See our article ‘Android or iOS – Which Is Better for Musician Apps?’ where we explain why this is.
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Micah Smith – “Stop this train” by John Mayer (Cover)
It was a nice touch to pre-record a piano accompaniment to a song that’s known for being accompanied by acoustic guitar in the original – this gives it a different flavor straight up. What a beautiful, warm tone you have and an effortless, smooth vocal delivery. I could listen to you all day! I’m very much enjoying your subtlety and restraint for this particular song choice. Lovely, tasteful use of embellishment and ad libs. Wow!
Al Andrew – “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red (Cover)
This is a better song choice for you than your last. It’s interesting that you took it up a key, sped it up and slightly changed the groove from the original though. I’d like to know your thinking behind these changes. You have an upper range to die for, but I think you’d achieve a more ‘vibier’, engaging performance if you were to stand & sing instead of sitting to sing. Loved the background vocals on the backing track of this one – were they you too?
Diane Pettipas – “Reflection” (Original)
It’s nice that this is an original song recorded at a live gig. This style certainly works for you and you have a strong tone with real potential. However, you need to ‘sell’ the song more vocally and visually. It’s a little bit flat in pitch quite a lot of the time, but you could easily rectify this by putting in much more energy into your performance. It’s too static and you’ve also got your right arm across your stomach a lot of the time. This is what I call a “closed gate” gesture and says to your audience “Don’t look at me”. Please open that “gate” and let the audience in.
Kim Chandler is one of the UK’s top contemporary vocal coaches and session singers. She runs a busy private teaching studio and recording studio in London and is a Principal Lecturer at Leeds College of Music. Kim is the immediate past President of the British Voice Association, choir director for Abbey Road Studio’s corporate recording sessions and creator of the popular “Funky ‘n Fun” vocal training series.