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  • Students Can’t Sing In Tune (Singing Teachers)

    Posted by Eliza Fyfe on October 31, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Need some advice: I have a bizarre case of a very talented acoustic guitarist and songwriter, great theory, excellent ear… but CANNOT sing in tune. He desperately wants his singing to catch up with his playing so he can actually sing the songs he writes! I have tried everything and am running out of ideas… I just don’t understand how someone with such a good ear can’t tell when he drifts off the notes… and he’s trying to do all the Ed Sheeran runs and I tell him to keep it simple for now. I’ve got him to sing scales along with his guitar scales, which he can do, but then as soon as he goes a cappella, he goes off key, nor can he sing a melody over the chords he plays on the guitar… somehow he can’t tell when he goes really sharp/flat. He tries SO hard and practices everything I tell him to; he’s a total darling! He is too breathy which affects the pitch so I do get him to focus on that more, too. To be fair, he IS improving so it can’t be that bad… But has anyone experienced this or has any tips?

    Sarah Clayton replied 5 years, 8 months ago 2 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    October 31, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I have someone with an even worse case of this as he tends not to hear it even when we do scales (he’ll sometimes be as much as a third out without hearing it!).
    Firstly, reassure him it’ll come with time and work, its something to be developed rather than a piece of head knowledge, secondly, get him to critique himself after singing (even if he doesn’t hear it yet, the act of critiquing helps open up the awareness), then I’d frequently get him to sing a cappella or preferably with yourself or someone else accompanying him so he can concentrate solely on the voice.
    I’ve been working with this student for over a year now and although the issues are still there, I’m getting a lot of positive reports from friends and family about how much better he is. Keep at it, he’ll get there!

  • Laura Ratcliffe

    Member
    October 31, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Hey lovely🙂I had someone similar – firstly get the vocal chords to connect on each note with a clean/sharp onset – so kind of stacatta scales. Breathy style can be nice but the breathe on the chords can be affecting hugely the precision. Also recapping the intervals of an 8 note major scale and addressing where semi tones are etc. then I know it’s tedious testing him on the intervals of maybe the first line of a song.. Hope that helps🙂

  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    October 31, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    More information on this topic can be found here – https://musicteacher.com/community/groups/music-teachers/forum/topic/tone-deaf/

  • David Lorimer

    Member
    October 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I’m coming to this chat a bit late so sorry if I’m sucking eggs but two things have aided such students of mine 1. A mic and a monitor or earpiece and 2. The old hand over one ear trick. Let me know if this helps anyone. The other thing I’ve found is that encouraging recording and critical analysis by the student can take the heat off the teacher…

  • Eliza Fyfe

    Member
    October 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Totally agree about the recording, David. And I find that that can actually act as the one hand over the ear thing with the headphones.

  • Sarah Clayton

    Member
    October 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    He sounds exactly like a couple of students I’ve had. Progress can be slow especially if they don’t have regular lessons but I found that doing scale work and picking out little bits of melody and looking at the pattern of the notes on the piano helped.

    Also get them to sing back little melodies that you sing to them. And if they’re struggling to hit notes straight off the try sliding up or down until the note matches so they can hear when notes match up.

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