- Some way to play a note.
- Some way to know if you sing the notes played or not.
Here is my three step process for pitch practice: LISTEN, MIME, SING1. Play a note. LISTEN... actively listen, and process that sound in the brain.
2. Play the same note again. MIME the note on a syllable you choose... I usually go with 'ya'. Important: Don't make a vocal sound - do everything BUT make a sound. Do it over and over until in your imagination you really are singing the note correctly.
NOTE TO VOCAL COACHES: You should be able to see in your student's mime the syllable formed and a look on their face that says they are 'hearing' that note. If you don't see this evidence, play the note again and have the student mime it again... until they can relax and really sing that note in their imagination. When you think you see them silently and successfully hitting that note, go on to the third step:
3. Play the same note again. SING on the chosen syllable out loud this time.
NOTE TO VOCAL COACHES: If they were not on pitch, patiently GO BACK to the first step and do it all again until they DO hit the pitch. I find it helpful to keep it playful, light, a feeling of experimenting rather than passing a test. The student must relax into processing pitch ear-to-brain-to-vocal-cords.
Go on to doing this 3-step process on a short series of notes. Start with a basic third (1-3) or triad (1-3-5). As you become consistent in your accuracy, make the phrases harder. Try some chromatic patterns (half steps), large leaps (1-9-4, etc) and more notes in the series (1-6-4-10-3, etc).
NOTE TO VOCAL COACHES: Beginners will find it difficult to sing a perfect fifth.. so go slow and give the voice success! It may take some patient practice, but absent significant organic damage to the ear, almost anyone can learn to sing in tune.
For more on this subject, read "Tone Deaf? Try Target Practice".
Want to do a vocal lesson with me? Contact me here.