I'm working with a singer who consistently goes flat in his singing. I'd say it's about 70% of the time. And it can occur at all ranges, in the low, mid and high range. Also, if he goes flat for the first note of a musical phrase he's flat for the entire phrase.
Problem is, I am a musician, not a singer. I did go for some singing lessons before, but I am not sure how to actually deal with this problem. Many times I can't hear it if someone sings flat. And if I ever DO pick it up, many people just need me to point it out ONCE and they're fine after that. Not so in this case.
Any help? Or am I just seriously out of my depth and ought to refer this case to the professionals? :)
If it is really obvious, others will notice it too. Meaning what? That then it's their job to do something...? Not trying to be difficult, just a little puzzled.
I think that if someone is a leader in the area of worship, then they have a responsibility to 1) train the team and help them be the best that they can be, and 2) care for the congregation, and that partly means making sure that the worship band is not distracting them from focusing on God.
So I personally don't believe that a leader is doing their job if they just let everything slide. God puts us there for a reason. However, you must be sure that the spirit of love and encouragement is permeating the entire process.
Very true. Sometimes resources are limited and brave people step up to fill the gap. They are to be commended. I just didn't think that Junjie was talking about that type of situation. I believe this person is one of the singers on the team whom Junjie is helping to train...a bird of a different feather, if you will! :)
Junjie, I sat in a class recently with Tim Carson from vocal artistry. I'm not a great singer either, but he seems to really work wonders, and has videos out for training puposes. I bought them and brought them back for my team (and me!) to use. I would recommend visiting the website and seeing if there is something you can access there that will help you. It's www.vocalartistry.com
I think the breathing thing is a good clue. Practice breathing so that the lower diaphram and stomache move and not the upper chest. Also make sure the person can hear themself. If I can't hear myself in the mix, I tend to go flat as well.
He notices only when I point it out. So I am thinking about the ear-training bit. Any recommended programs on that? I am tempted to get him started on Burge's perfect pitch training, since I've got the training CDs. Maybe that will be the motivation I need to actually COMPLETE the course myself... :)
When I started working with this guy I thought I'd only have to work with him on worship leading techniques and all that. So that wouldn't take that long, AND it was more up my alley. Now I found that I need to work more with him on basic singing, so I am thinking hard about what I should do next. :)
Ear training is an excellent suggestion and if you have come DVD/cd for this don't let them gather dust! I would recommend that you work on them as a team too - everyone can benefit from such exercises. Same goes for the breathing exercises and other vocal training like voice placement and articulation.
I am a singer and work with other vocalists all the time. One simple thing that I need to ask is where is this singer in position to your monitors, and/or other vocalists? Pitchiness can be a simple thing like not hearing the melody (or their particular harmony) strongly enough for themselves to grab onto it. Can they move or have their part louder in the monitors? Unlike other instruments, the voice in extremely intuitive. What I mean is that all you have to be "distracted" for a milisecond by a off note, or even have a random thought about going off, and your voice will follow that sound! If this person can't hear what they need, they are setting themselves up for trouble everytime.
Another simple thing you can do is have your singers sing a capella. Have them stand in a circle facing each other, give them the start note, and let them sing a song they know really well. This is a great fix for blending and note placement as people tend to self correct when they are face-to-face. Once they have this down, ask them to all turn around and sing it again with their backs to each other. They should still be standing close together. Then they will hear their own voice more, but still hear the others, especially on each side of them. This helps fine tune their sense of what their sound (as a group) is. If someone can't do the first part of this exercise, then they have serious tuning problems and maybe singing is not their gift. If someone has trouble with the second part of this exercise, then you know it's ear training for sure...
Hope this helps. Another thought, you mentioned that you don't always pick up on this. Does that mean other are? Is your team such that someone else can help this person with pitch? Not to be the pitch police or anything, but just have signals or extra helps when there's an issue. Naturally this is all for rehearsal time; during a service either the signals have to be super subtle, or you've just gotta give it up to God and let it be your offering.
Junjie, have you recorded this guy and let him listen to it? Sometimes that's where a person can really hear themselves. Just a simple arrangement with one instrument and his voice should do it.
From the funny story department, I once had a female singer on a team who sang many solos and deemed herself quite a singer (had vocal training, sang in large churches, etc). She would constantly pull me aside during practice (I was the worship leader) and "alert me" to the fact that I was singing flat all the time. Now, admittedly I'm not the greatest singer, but it didn't make sense that I was off that much and that often.
So I recorded our team performances and discovered that, in fact, she had a tendancy to sing sharp! Everything sounded great on a song until she came in, and because she was sharp, then all the rest of us would start to struggle with our parts.