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Can't Sing at All - Where to Start?

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm new to the forum. I'd like to be able to sing but I can't. If I attempt to sing along to a song, any song, I can't sing the melody right (not hitting the right notes). If I pay attention I can tell that it sounds terrible, however it's not obvious to me all the time as I tend to listen to the recorded singing and not my own singing. I've found a computer programme which plays a note and then tells you to sing that note, and tells you which note you're actually singing, and I've used it a little. I've found it's easier for me to hear whether or not the higher pitch notes are correct or not, while I feel tone deaf when it comes to the lower pitch notes (can take me quite a while to find the right lower pitch note). What should I do in order to be able to sing on pitch? I'm not looking to become an amazing professional singer, I mostly just want to be able to sing on pitch, and sing industrial which is often quite simple compared to rock or pop or classical. Should I be able to achieve this or are some people just unable to learn how to sing/tone deaf and can't improve? If youse think I should be able to improve, what would you guys recommend I do?

Cheers

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Hi, alot people who think they can't sing actually will sound alot better just if they sing on pitch, so you actually in the right path since you are trying to fix the problem.

This was the 1st problem I worked on, and for me the answer was in singing with amplifcation, and better yet, singing with mic and hearing myself in headphones, with a little bit of reverbe, then hearing the recording and trying again.

There are softwares like earmaster, but I didn't need to use them so i can't say if they r any good.

Good luck

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     Very basic......try a few simple melodies.....Anything really, just be singing different pitches, playing around. slide your voice up and down like a siren just to get used to hearing your voice and using it on different pitches. When you do a slide or sirent stop the slide and hold out that note for a little bit.

    This is just to get used to producing different pitches. Play around with your voice a little before trying to jump right into complicated melodies and "Singing".

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Learning to sing in pitch should be your first priority.

Work through some easy songs phrase by phrase. Listen to a phrase from the original, pause the music, imitate the pitches a capella and repeat this back and forth process on each phrase until your pitches sound the same as the original singer. Also record yourself as you practice this way and spend some time listening back to see if you are actually getting it right.

 

This is not what I did, I was always good with pitch, but my coach recommends this for people with pitch problems as he started without any pitch ability and this way of practicing worked for him far better than just singing along to songs.

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P9 - I've been there too my friend. I found out that almost nobody has such a deep problem as I had and as you have now. I know exactly what you hear and what you don't hear.

 

The moment you strike that piano key you have no idea how to comprehend the sound. You can't remember it, you can't imagine it. You could even take a second instrument and play the same note. Sometimes you wouldn't be sure if those notes matched, you would just trust the symbols. F on a piano is F on a guitar. Hitting the lower notes seems weird to you, it's like you're more like breathing air out than really singing, and you probably feel that your voice on the lower notes is really grainy or totally unstable. Like driving a fast car on gravel.

 

I might have guessed some of those things right (nah, I'm not a mentalist, I have no idea whether I was right, just some drama). You're starting great, but I am going to offer you a good website. That's where I started to improve:

 

http://www.karaokeparty.com/

 

Here you can see the pitch of your voice as compared to the pitch of the current moment in the song. Just choose a song (a simple one!). Just go up and down the scale with your voice and try to "find" the note you want to sing. You will know that you're nailing it the moment you hear a resonance between your voice and the note you're hitting. To fine-tune it just try to modify your voice going up or down just a tiny bit and watch out for a stronger resonance. It will sound as if your voice merged with the sound of the note. This will make you aware of the notes.

 

As soon as you you know when you're hitting the notes - start proper breathing training and get a copy of those warm-up exercises. Watch a video on youtube about lip rolls and start doing them with the warm-ups. For example - first the lip roll, then normal voice. This will help your diaphragm cooperate with your vocal cords. After that warm-up you will feel weird, like you were relieved of a lot of tension.

 

After that... well, you will manage to learn more as soon as you get your pitch and breathing to stand on their legs. I would recommend you to avoid difficult, or even intermediate songs, without proper singing technique you may damage your voice and waste time on recovery. I would sing the warm-ups only, at least for two weeks. To se if after those two weeks it's easier to sing for you.

 

It took me 2.5 years to get from the point you are in now to a sort-of-okay-pitch point. Though I was stubborn enough to never pay a single teacher. I'm sure you will get results 10 times faster than me. Get a coach as soon as you get rid of the fear of revealing your pitch problems (unless you have none).

 

P.S. The moment you realize you can sing a full song with no pitch problems <- it's soooo awesome that you should already invest time into training. It's so worth it.
P.S. You're not tone deaf. Oh and it's not in the DNA and stuff, people said that to me, that's BS. Just for your information. It will take some time though.

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Intervals. Sometimes, when you learn a song and you are trying to learn in the original key, you are thrown off by the pitch and you are not getting the intervals (difference of frequency between notes.) So, lower the song to an easy part of the range. Become one, mind meld, become part of the machine, with the intervals. Then work back up to the original key.

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I'm new to the forum. I'd like to be able to sing but I can't. If I attempt to sing along to a song, any song, I can't sing the melody right (not hitting the right notes). If I pay attention I can tell that it sounds terrible, however it's not obvious to me all the time as I tend to listen to the recorded singing and not my own singing.

 

That was my problem before I've started taking lessons. Knew a lot more after my first lesson. You'll sound horrible at the beginning - but it's the sound of a novice and not of someone who really doesn't know what he's doing. 

 

I've found a computer programme which plays a note and then tells you to sing that note, and tells you which note you're actually singing, and I've used it a little. I've found it's easier for me to hear whether or not the higher pitch notes are correct or not, while I feel tone deaf when it comes to the lower pitch notes (can take me quite a while to find the right lower pitch note). What should I do in order to be able to sing on pitch?

 

For me it was to know what my body approximately requires to produce a note. So it's muscle memory and knowledge. Do share the program. 

 

I'm not looking to become an amazing professional singer, I mostly just want to be able to sing on pitch, and sing industrial which is often quite simple compared to rock or pop or classical.

 

Professional singers are much better trained than people realize, in almost any musical style. Being good technically is not just about showing off how big you can sound or how high you can go. It's not only about pushing the boundaries but also about making your performance stable and coherent, even if you're style is understated. So no such thing as 'quite simple'. Learn, train, experiment.

 

Should I be able to achieve this or are some people just unable to learn how to sing/tone deaf and can't improve?

 

Some are - no way you'll know without trying. The good news for you is that you know that you can hit higher notes. That's a start.

 

If youse think I should be able to improve, what would you guys recommend I do?

 

Good: get a book about it with audio exercises. I like practicing with James Lugo' Vocal Insanity (he's also active on this forum). Note that I wasn't a total beginner when I first got the book.

Better: comprehensive vocal method (never tried one... but this is Robert Lunte's house so you can talk with him about the 4 Pillars).

Best: lessons. 

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P9 - I've been there too my friend. I found out that almost nobody has such a deep problem as I had and as you have now. I know exactly what you hear and what you don't hear.

 

The moment you strike that piano key you have no idea how to comprehend the sound. You can't remember it, you can't imagine it. You could even take a second instrument and play the same note. Sometimes you wouldn't be sure if those notes matched, you would just trust the symbols. F on a piano is F on a guitar. Hitting the lower notes seems weird to you, it's like you're more like breathing air out than really singing, and you probably feel that your voice on the lower notes is really grainy or totally unstable. Like driving a fast car on gravel.

 

I might have guessed some of those things right (nah, I'm not a mentalist, I have no idea whether I was right, just some drama). You're starting great, but I am going to offer you a good website. That's where I started to improve:

 

http://www.karaokeparty.com/

 

Here you can see the pitch of your voice as compared to the pitch of the current moment in the song. Just choose a song (a simple one!). Just go up and down the scale with your voice and try to "find" the note you want to sing. You will know that you're nailing it the moment you hear a resonance between your voice and the note you're hitting. To fine-tune it just try to modify your voice going up or down just a tiny bit and watch out for a stronger resonance. It will sound as if your voice merged with the sound of the note. This will make you aware of the notes.

 

As soon as you you know when you're hitting the notes - start proper breathing training and get a copy of those warm-up exercises. Watch a video on youtube about lip rolls and start doing them with the warm-ups. For example - first the lip roll, then normal voice. This will help your diaphragm cooperate with your vocal cords. After that warm-up you will feel weird, like you were relieved of a lot of tension.

 

After that... well, you will manage to learn more as soon as you get your pitch and breathing to stand on their legs. I would recommend you to avoid difficult, or even intermediate songs, without proper singing technique you may damage your voice and waste time on recovery. I would sing the warm-ups only, at least for two weeks. To se if after those two weeks it's easier to sing for you.

 

It took me 2.5 years to get from the point you are in now to a sort-of-okay-pitch point. Though I was stubborn enough to never pay a single teacher. I'm sure you will get results 10 times faster than me. Get a coach as soon as you get rid of the fear of revealing your pitch problems (unless you have none).

 

P.S. The moment you realize you can sing a full song with no pitch problems <- it's soooo awesome that you should already invest time into training. It's so worth it.

P.S. You're not tone deaf. Oh and it's not in the DNA and stuff, people said that to me, that's BS. Just for your information. It will take some time though.

 

Thank you for this post. I'm sure the OP got something out of it. I know I did. Pretty inspiring. You're not a coach by chance are you? :)

Seriously, thanks

Bob

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Thank you for this post. I'm sure the OP got something out of it. I know I did. Pretty inspiring. You're not a coach by chance are you? :)

Seriously, thanks

Bob

 

Thanks for the kind words :). Nope, I'm not a coach in anything. I'm just a guy who doesn't give up. I hate giving up, I give up only on things that I do not care about. I always wan't to prove to people that those old myths ("tone deaf", "you have to be born with it", "talent is important") are just tales. We are in the ages of science, not some old "singers-are-elite-people" crap.

 

I wasn't so sure about it a few years ago. Then I took up rapping. Boy, that was my dream, the problem was... I wasn't able to recognize the rhythm... at all! I didn't even know what was the role of kicks, snares and hats. That time when you have no idea what you're doing is the moment when people are like scavengers. They try to rip every bit of your "I want to try this" attitude apart from you. They talk crap, stuff like "no man, it's not for you", "you don't have the voice", "you don't even recognize the rhythm buddy". The problem with their "theories" is the fact that you can actually get better at it.

 

I would've accepted it... if it wasn't for my "learn how it works before you try it" attitude. Because you know what? The moment you learn how something works you can tell whether it can be improved. Don't just accept whatever people tell you, analyze it, that's the skeptic's attitude that has driven our amazing science for decades. It's so simple, just check it out, find out how the voice works, look up some information on sound (not only music). My friends in my city didn't really bother about that, it's too hard and boring for them. Maybe that's why now I am the second best rapper in my city (and I can evaluate it thanks to that same method).

 

Don't waste time on "you have to feel this way or that way". These days you can even pay somebody to show you your vocal cords and see for yourself what happens when you do stuff with it. This is just pure science, pure facts. There's nothing mystical about it.

 

I don't have proper vocal technique, I can tell you that. I had to run 10km just to reach the START line when other people crossed it the first second of their marathon. I've probably been in an even worse situation than the OP. Now I can sing correctly full (still simple) songs. I can't describe how it feels, after 2.5 years to reach this point from being even further away from it than the starting point usually is. Hitting the notes is orgasmic.

 

I am careful though, I don't want to rush it, voice is fragile, there's no sense in destroying it. I have a lot of time to outrun other people. Yeah, I am a bit arrogant, but sometimes it does help me.

 

Sorry for this wall-of-text, but I thought that I might expand on what I meant before, because it seemed that you liked it :).

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for all the replies everyone! I'm sorry I'm so late responding to this, university has been intense these last few weeks, I've hardly had anything to do with music recently other than having it play in the background while studying...

 

I took an amusia test to see if I'm actually tone-deaf, at http://jakemandell.com/tonedeaf/, but it came back with 83.3% correct which was labelled 'very good performance'. I even took it twice and it said 83.3% both times, which seems a bit suspicious to me. Has anyone else tried this test? How valid does it seem to you? It cheered me up a bit but then again, it's just some website online so who knows how legit it is.

 

JohnnyL, the programme I mentioned which tells you which note you are singing can be found at http://www.singtherightnote.com/.

 

Owen Korzec, you call this thing 'pitch problems' and say your coach had this problem himself, do you know how long it took him to make any progress and eventually be able to sing a whole song? Can he sing all-right today? 

 

Etekiller, you said you had similar problems yourself and it took you about 2.5 years to get a 'sort-of-okay-pitch point', how much practising did you do, was it daily, or every other day or weekly, how long were your practising sessions?

 

After reading everyone's replies I've got a bit of an idea of what I should be doing which might help - practising recognising intervals, singing simple melodies, using amplification, recording and listening how it sounds, try singing one line at a time from a song, do warm-ups, also getting a book. I also plan to use the 'sing the right note' programme a bit and will be practising other aspects of music which I think should be helpful for singing as well (piano, musical theory etc). Starting mid-April I should be able to practise several hours a day but up until then I won't have much spare time so it'll have to wait. Until then I'll try and practise the piano an hour a day and maybe some basic finding-pitch singing. Does this seem like a good plan?

 

Cheers

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Etekiller, are you me?  Your posts are awesome, thanks so much.  

 

My situation is similar to the OP and Etekiller.   18 months or so ago I could not match a pitch on an instrument or another voice with my own voice.  I worked with a program called SingandSee a lot which helped get at least a basic calibration going between my ear, brain, and voice.  

 

In addition to the pitch problems, I have a not very attractive southern accent and often speak with a high larnyx.  It's not that my voice is particularly high, but I tend to talk in a way that for example causes telemarketers to call me 'Ms. xxxx'.    This all translates to crappy tone for singing.

 

I've been taking singing lessons from a local teacher for about 18 months and made quite a lot of progress.  Still a pretty poor pitchy singer, but I'm getting better all the time.   As Etekiller says, it really is awesome when you sing something correctly. 

 

I've been working with Pillars for about 2 months now and think that it is a tremendous program.    It explains very clearly lots of subtle things that my local teacher hinted at, but that didn't really sink in.   The training exercises in Pillars are completely oriented towards developing tone and range, and you'll be practicing pitch in the process.  A big part of having good pitch is having good tone with good resonance, and so Pillars or a similar program will work on the pitch issues as well.

 

It's nice to hear other 'non-singers' doing what it takes to make it happen.    Etekiller's 10km to reach the start analogy is perfect, and sometimes I think I'm really foolish to be spending the time and effort and money on attempting something which is so unnatural for me but comes quite easily to many others.   But it comes down to the fact that I like learning how to do things, and the harder the thing the more satisfying, and that singing is really very fun.

 

Greg

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what would you guys recommend I do?

 

Get some voice lessons.

 

 

There are softwares like earmaster, but I didn't need to use them so i can't say if they r any good.

 

That type of software works on your ability to recognize/determine what you are hearing: that was a minor 3rd, Major 7th chord, ii V I progression, C E G A in the key of C, etc... While this can be usefull singers need to develop an intuitive sense of pitch/music first. Have a friend sing a couple of notes. Can you sing it back to him? Same thing with rythm. Have someone clap a rythm (don't look at their hands!) and try to clap it back. Can you tell when you're off?

 

 

while I feel tone deaf when it comes to the lower pitch notes

 

Are you a female?

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Thanks for replying guys.

 

It's nice to hear you have made progress Carp, that's encouraging. I'll look into using a programme as well, as you mentioned that.

 

Sexy Beast I would get lessons only I live off a student loan so at the moment that's not an option, as I've heard they're very expensive. Might be able to get some this summer depending on what kinda summer job I get. And about the lower notes, no I'm not female I'm male.

About rhythm and recognising melodies, that's something I can do, as long as I don't have to use my voice... I can play a few instruments at intermediate level. For example, if I'm sat at the piano I can reproduce a melody I have heard earlier, which I hear in my head when I'm at the piano, by trying different notes out and different intervals until I find the correct notes and intervals. It takes me a while to get it right - I'm not great at it - but I can do it. When I was younger I took lessons to learn how to play double bass, and the teacher played a few notes on the piano and tried to have me sing them but it didn't work. He said this was peculiar, that my singing sounded as if I had no ability to recognise notes, when the way I played double bass indicated to him that my pitch hearing ability was very good. I don't know what to make of it, it's like I'm semi tone-deaf or something.

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Thanks for replying guys.

 

It's nice to hear you have made progress Carp, that's encouraging. I'll look into using a programme as well, as you mentioned that.

 

Sexy Beast I would get lessons only I live off a student loan so at the moment that's not an option, as I've heard they're very expensive. Might be able to get some this summer depending on what kinda summer job I get. And about the lower notes, no I'm not female I'm male.

About rhythm and recognising melodies, that's something I can do, as long as I don't have to use my voice... I can play a few instruments at intermediate level. For example, if I'm sat at the piano I can reproduce a melody I have heard earlier, which I hear in my head when I'm at the piano, by trying different notes out and different intervals until I find the correct notes and intervals. It takes me a while to get it right - I'm not great at it - but I can do it. When I was younger I took lessons to learn how to play double bass, and the teacher played a few notes on the piano and tried to have me sing them but it didn't work. He said this was peculiar, that my singing sounded as if I had no ability to recognise notes, when the way I played double bass indicated to him that my pitch hearing ability was very good. I don't know what to make of it, it's like I'm semi tone-deaf or something.

You are not tone-deaf. You just don't have a sense memory for notes in your body, yet.

Like I said, yet. Give it some time and practice.

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And about the lower notes, no I'm not female I'm male.

 

The reason I was asking is I just taught a young female singer (18-19) who couldn't match pitch on her low notes but if I sang a high note she could. Her ear needed some work but her real problem was that she was too scared of her chest voice. She kept gravitating towards a young girl breathy type sound, even when she spoke. When I got her more grounded in her chest voice she could match pitch in her lower range as well. But most guys don't have that problem.

 

 

About rhythm and recognising melodies, that's something I can do, as long as I don't have to use my voice... I can play a few instruments at intermediate level. For example, if I'm sat at the piano I can reproduce a melody I have heard earlier, which I hear in my head when I'm at the piano, by trying different notes out and different intervals until I find the correct notes and intervals. It takes me a while to get it right - I'm not great at it - but I can do it. When I was younger I took lessons to learn how to play double bass, and the teacher played a few notes on the piano and tried to have me sing them but it didn't work. He said this was peculiar, that my singing sounded as if I had no ability to recognise notes, when the way I played double bass indicated to him that my pitch hearing ability was very good. I don't know what to make of it, it's like I'm semi tone-deaf or something.

 

Ok, here's something to get you started. You will need a friend for this. Someone who is a singer/musician.

 

First just slide up and down your range on any vowel/sound. Start low and slide up, start high and slide down etc... Play with that.

 

a/ Have someone sing a note. Sing it back to them. Can you do that reliably try 2 notes, 3 notes, etc... if not go to b/

 

b/ Sing a note and have your friend sing the same note. That way you will know what it feels like to sing in tune since you don't have to match pitch, somebody will be matching your pitch. Repeat a couple of times then have your friend sing either in tune with you or out of tune (sharp or flat). Can you tell when he is in tune or not? Have your friend sing in tune with you first then slowly glide upwards/downwards and back to the pitch. Now do the same but this time I want you to glide up or down and back to unison. After some time on this exercise you should be able to go back to a/

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The beauty of software like singandsee and others is that it allows one to do your recommendations without having 1) find a willing and capable friend and/or 2) subject them to  your caterwauling.   With the real time visual feedback, you can play a tone on an instrument (or in the software), then make a sound and move your voice  until the note you're making, as displayed on the graph, matches the target note.     Then as you (Sexy) say, you start to get a feel for what it feels/sounds like when your voice is resonating with another note.

 

I'm not suggesting that software is better than a human partner, just that it's a great alternative and by it's nature lets one practice as much as he wants in privacy.

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too muxh text and it really comes down to few simple but time consuming steps.

Step 1. - ability ti reckognize pitch - google it and you will find many way to train your ear.

Step 2. - sing and record yourself soing some simpler song along with many free youtube karaoke tracks and see how well you do.

Step 3 - learn basic terms when it comes to singing. Namely vowel modification, registers , falsetto and bridging and connecting.

Step 4a. - watch free youtube lessons and try to get as much as you can out of them.

Step 4b (better option) - get a vocal proggramm and start training religiously and if posible get some vocal coach hours if u can. I can recommend 4 pillars of singing as one of the best.

Step 5 - after mastering step 1-3 do step 4 for a year and prepare to be amazed.

Optional step 1 - dedicate an hour a day for purely singing songs if possuble.

Optional step 2 - be active here on this forum and track your proggress and post vocal samples so people can review it and give you pointers and trainung content

I think that sums it up.

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I'm not suggesting that software is better than a human partner, just that it's a great alternative and by it's nature lets one practice as much as he wants in privacy.

 

A lot of people have an easier time matching someone else's voice as opposed to an instrument like a piano a guitar.

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A lot of people have an easier time matching someone else's voice as opposed to an instrument like a piano a guitar.

 

That's interesting to hear.  Guitar, especially with just a little distortion is easiest for me; piano is next easiest, and I have the most difficulty matching a voice.

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That's interesting to hear.  Guitar, especially with just a little distortion is easiest for me; piano is next easiest, and I have the most difficulty matching a voice.

I agree with you. I have an easier time lining up with an instrument rather than another human. For the most part, for example, pianos generally have the same tone. As opposed to humans, who can sound radically different and have different phrasing and cadences.

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Thanks for the replies guys, a lot of useful advice here.

 

I have a bit of an update. I tried the singtherightnote programme again, haven't in some weeks, and now I can manage it. When the programme plays a note, I can imitate it straight away nine times out of ten, and when I can't do it immediately it takes a few seconds at most. I closed my eyes when singing the note, so I couldn't see whether the programme recognised the singing as correct or not, and then when I thought I had the right note I looked and it was correct almost all of the time. I tried singing along to a simple melody while playing it on the piano, there were some hiccups where it took a while to get things right, but after a few minutes I recorded it and had a listen and it sounded decent. I'm making progress :D It feels more like I can 'feel' the note I am singing now, whereas before my voice felt completely disconnected from my body. I recognise that specific feeling you get when what you're singing is identical to what you're listening to - the merging of the sounds. I still don't know how to go about singing a proper song though where the melody moves really fast, so I'll have to continue practising. 

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I tried singing along to a simple melody while playing it on the piano, there were some hiccups where it took a while to get things right, but after a few minutes I recorded it and had a listen and it sounded decent.

 

Carefull you don't get too used to singing along to a melody on the piano. Break down the melody into small phrases. Play the phrase, listen, sing it back, sing it with the piano, repeat as many times as you need, move on to the next phrase.

 

You can also do this with a recording of a singer. Use a program like audacity for this. Pick a song where the melody is simple and the range not challenging. Learn it one phrase at a time.

 

What will also help you is vocal exercises on simple patterns like 1-2-3-2-1 (C D E D C) in the key of C, transpose up and down your comfortable range. Once again don't use the piano too much for help. Just play the corresponding chord (C chord in this case) or the starting pitch. You can play the pattern and listen or sing along to it but keep it to a minimum. Once you can do this add a note: 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, etc... 

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