Between going to grad school and being a graduate student instructor, my voice has suffered. Usually, my voice does exactly what I want it to. Whatever I can hear I can execute after a try or two. The challenge for me has always been to hear more! Meaning to really get inside the changes.
Now, that has all changed. I sing concerts less frequently and I talk less frequently. Disuse, hormones, and asthma have my vocal chords feeling heavy, thick and unresponsive. It was time to go back to the shed, but I really lacked the time to sit at the piano and run minor scales. Then I discovered Voice Tutor.
Voice Tutor is a phone app. I purchased it for my Google phone (android) but it is also available for iPhones. Voice Tutor goes through all the basics terminology such as "connected voice," "head voice," "chest voice," etc. It runs you though trouble spots such as tension, breathiness, cracking, and staying connected. There is even a function that helps you figure out what your vocal range is.
I am not keen on having a phone app tweak my sound. I already have developed my style/sound and whether my pronunciation is technically "correct" it is my sound, people like it, and I intended to keep it.
I will give you an example of an "incorrect" thing I do. Singers are supposed to sing on vowels. I love to sing on consonants. Give me a good "M" over and "A" any day! So if the word to be song is "MAKE," I will hold the "MMMM" rather than the "AY."
Since I am happy with my style/sound and I know my range, I essentially use two features on the Voice Tutor app: "Riff and Run" and "Give My Voice a Workout." This not only runs basic intervals, it also runs all types of scales such as pentatonic. I didn't grow up in a gospel church so the gospel/R&B runs that are prevalent in music today are difficult for me. What is more, I made the discovery that singing the runs on vowels is difficult, yet I can scat the most difficult runs and scales with ease. I guess I am just hard-wired that way!
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received as a vocal student was to warm up on my own. Don't waste you money and the teacher's wisdom by having her or him run scales with you to warm you up. Do your shedding before the lesson.
Voice Tutor is more than just a keyboard playing behind you; it also has a pitch meter and the ability to slow down and to record your voice, which makes Voice Tutor a steal at $4.99. You can get it online at the Apple iTunes Store.
Of course, nothing beats the extra ear and finger training you get playing piano yourself while running your scales, but I am grateful for Voice Tutor's ability to take an hour-long commute in the car and turn it into productive vocal shedding time. I plug my phone into my car's auxiliary jack and then I can turn Voice Tutor and my voice up more loudly than I would ever feel comfortable with at home.
So stop singing along with the radio and build up your chops with this nifty app!