Student sings off-key
Karen D., Canada
I have an adult student who loves to sign but who sings very off-key. She knows it, and she asked me if I teach how to sing. I don’t. I’ve taken some singing lessons, but that’s about it. And while I’m not the best singer, singing on-key is not at all challenging for me. I have always had a good ear.
Does anyone have any suggestions for me to suggest to her about how to sing more on-key? When she sings in class, she usually sings in a deep voice that’s pretty monotone.
Anna J., Canada
A technique that I’ve heard of is to have them attempt to match pitch (perhaps with you, or with an app) while covering one ear. I once read that sometimes the problem can be connected to never really having learned to hear their own voice, and covering one ear, they can more easily begin to do that.
Kerry V., Australia
To me, singing is singing. Off-key or not. I just love it when people sing. I’ve worked with people whose bodies cannot work and they cannot talk, but when they hear a song they love, they SING. It makes me cry every time I hear them. Not through pain of their voice, but that their singing is their voice and music so obviously touches the soul. I love it when my ‘off-key’ singers sing. That is pure delight for me.
Cate R., Australia
I also have an adult student who is very off key. She knows it but I told her she is singing some part of the harmony and not the melody. She is okay with that. I have noticed she is singing sometimes on pitch, so I think it’s coming slowly for her. I also notice if I start the song on pitch they know where it goes from there. It’s like singing happy birthday. Everyone starts off differently but in the end they all come together.
Ruth P., North Carolina
Encourage her to explore her voice at home and discover her different ranges. Tell her to try and do siren sounds and start low and go up like in an elevator. “Playing” with your voice is a great way to make discoveries. Kind of like improvising on the piano.