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Okay, so my older sister is singing a solo (To The Sky From The Earth) for an ISSMA contest. She's still making lots of mistakes in pitch, rhythm, and intonation, and there's only a week left till the solo. She meets once a week with our music teacher for half an hour, but that's really not enough. So a few days ago she asked me to help- I have a better musical ear and sense of rhythm (no offense/bragging intended). But nothing I've been trying really works. We've tried:

  1. Having her sing to me playing her part on the piano and listening to it and marking off her mistakes on her music. This didn't do anything at all- she just keeps making the same mistakes over again, and when she doesn't there's always new ones.
  2. Me holding every single note on the piano until she hits the right pitch and then having her sing the whole phrase real slow. Usually, it takes her a whole 15 seconds to get to the right note, and even after she does, we rarely get through a sentence without a mistake.
  3. Singing it with her while playing it on the piano. This one seemed to work more than the others because while we sing together she's okay. But 20 seconds later, she couldn't repeat the phrase without me.

Most of our problems are pitch-related; however, there's rhythm trouble too. Usually, when I play and she sings, every note she sings comes a second after I play it. My question is: Are there any particular things we can try to get her learn or just bluntly memorize it?

Thank you!

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    I've not seen anything that makes me think there are things that can't be learned. At the same time, some people will take much longer to learn some things than others. She may not be able to improve enough to win the contest in a week, but that's no reason to think that she can't learn to sing very well, given enough time. – Todd Wilcox Jan 21 '17 at 5:25
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Sorry to be the harbinger of doom, but if there's a week to go, either she needs to find an easier piece, or withdraw. If she's having problems with pitch, timing etc., then it seems she's not ready for this level.

As Todd states, anyone can learn anything, given enough time (trouble may be, they won't live long enough!), but a week in this situation just won't be enough.

The stress itself won't be helping, so the best may be to leave it until she's ready, which will, by the sound of things, take some time and effort, but really work towards it later.

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Make her a rehearsal track to sing along with. If you can't sing the song in her key, draft in a female singer. Get her to practice singing along with it, LOTS of times each day.

Maybe accept the fact that singing just isn't her thing. Can she sing other songs more accurately?

  • I am female... =/ – Ira I.I. Jan 22 '17 at 1:33
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I don't think there's any short term solution. I think there's things that can be learned, though. Probably she needs way more than just half an hour a week of singing lessons if she has trouble with pitch and rhythm.

If you say that she can sing it better when singing along with you, probably she might learn to follow a piano melody instead of your voice. That way, she can learn to sing it without a person, and give her more confidence on singing it in her solo.

I would also recommend rhythm exercises with a metronome to avoid that problem in the future.

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I'm in a similar situation. I have a week to learn and perform "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (Izzy's version) on a ukulele and I can't seem to get it right. I've arranged singing lessons instead of my usual piano which helped a bit. But honestly, on top of the singing lessons, you should just get her to practice it every single day, and make sure it's in her range. You should keep trying with the singing with her and the slowly going through the song. If you still can't get it after all the practice, I'd recommend backing out or just letting her try her best on the day.

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