mbdancer13

Attaining Pitch Retention

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I am teaching a voice student currently who has trouble retaining pitches in her head while she sings. When given pitches on the piano, she has good aural skills to correct herself. 

Do you have any suggestions of what types of exercises I can use to help her learn how to better retain pitches in her head?

Thank you.

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What you're doing with her on the piano is great. Singing in pitch is a litening skill, more than anything else. The more she can self correct, the easier it will get, eventually leading her to be able to do it a plit second inside her head or even anticipating the pitch. One thing you might try to add is a way for her to get immediate feedback through multiple senses. A pitch wheel is a great place to start, where she can blow into it for the note, then try to hum the note into it as well, until it locks in to the pitch. Before she locks in with it, it will give a pretty bad sound. It also gives kenetic feedback. Anotehr way is a vocal training app where it plays the pitch or an interval, then she has to sing it. The app will show her how close to the pitch she is, and most won't move to the next note in the interval/melody until she holds the correct note for a certain amount of time. Vocal TRainer - Learn to Sing, or Learn to Sing - Sing Sharp, are both great apps for this. 

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This is a very late reply, but just in case it could still be of help, I have some suggestions.

Using an app to work on fine tuning pitch accuracy is definitely a great idea, as coordination is obvious a major factor in accurate singing. If that basic coordination and control has progressed pretty well and is no longer a problem, the next thing you should address is audiation - the ability to hear in the "mind's ear". Despite what most musicians seem to say, it can be strengthened significantly and make a big difference for a singer. The easiest way to get started working on that is to have the student sing up and down a major scale (full scale or even just the first 3 or 5 notes, and then repeat it leaving one of those notes silent. This way, she will hear it in her head. Gradually increase the notes left silent until all of them except the tonic. You can also do this with any songs she is singing.

Another audiation building method that is a bit more advanced but is really worth the patience is to have her sing a triad up and down, and then have her sing it down a half step without playing the change for her on the piano. You can play it for her the first couple times until she gets it. Start with major and then switch to minor once it becomes easy, and also try doing it down and up instead of up and down. This will develop hearing not only single notes in one's head, but an entire tonality, and being able to transpose it internally encourages strong vividness of audiation. If this becomes easy, try it with 5 note melodic patterns.

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