Pitch correction for bad vocalists in lieu of giving them 'the boot'?
I'm candidating at a small church that has horrible vocals on the praise team that I would inherit.
Coming in and throwing these vocalists out is not an option in the near-term. I believe training/coaching is unlikely to bridge the gap.
Have any of you ever tried using a pitch correction device on praise team vocalists for live purposes? I'm wondering if I could covertly run one from the soundboard.
I'd be careful about the "covertly" part. That could blow up in your face pretty quick. Better to be honest with them, and tell them you want to add some processing to the vocals to improve the quality of the overall mix.
That said, I know a couple of people who use TC products and swear by them.
I conduct basic ear training for the members. This helps them learn pitches, intervals, chords, etc.
It has improved their singing and especially their confidence.
Are you certain that they can clearly hear themselves? I found out the hard way this is really critical in maintaining correct pitch.
I remember when I heard my voice on a recording with a full band (with loud stage volume), my pitch was worse than I realized. I now use an in-ear monitor, which made a HUGE improvement in my pitch (and my confidence). If that's not an option, try to keep stage volume with the instruments to a minimum but have the vocals very prominent in the monitors.
If that doesn't help, maybe if they heard themselves on a recording it would help you convince them that they're off pitch if you need to tell them. We usually don't sound as good as we think.
Hi! I'm Elisabeth, and new to the boards. I teach voice in a university setting (mostly musical theater students), privately through a home studio (a mix of styles), and work with church musicians of all ages in my area (mixed stylistically). I'm convinced that some of the issues plaguing contemporary church musicians have more to do with lack of access to good vocal technique training no matter what style of music you deal with. There are some technique thoughts I've got upon reading your post:
1. Check in with postural alignment. Start by having them nod their heads - usually folks will do this at the base of the skull. The skeleton was designed to be nodded from the occipital joint instead (the dip in the skull by the ear). Have them nod from there instead. One should notice a freer neck (and therefore larynx). Tension involving the neck (jaw, tongue, etc) can affect pitch.
2. Check people's vocal backgrounds. If you have a more classically trained singer versus a contemporary commercial style trained singer, they might clash - not to mention having a relatively untrained singer in the mix. The best way to work with vastly different voice types is to have them match the vowel color rather than radically try to change people's voices. Do they know what they need to do to make each vowel sound? Have them sing only the vowel of a song. You'll probably run into a couple of people that aren't singing a vowel the way they speak the word.
3. Consonants can be pretty heavy in word shading, especially with relatively untrained singers. R, L, M, and N are the worst consonants on the planet for most people, and words with consonant blends or double consonants can even be more fun. Have them quickly get off the consonant that's an issue and go straight to the vowel to see if this helps.
Shenandoah University holds a two week summer program that specializes in contemporary vocal (non-classical) training. They're the specialists in how to help folks keep these sounds healthy for the long haul. I haven't had the funds to go - yet - but it's on tap for next summer. Friends have said how wonderful it is, so I'm looking forward to seeing what more I can learn.
I also agree with the other posters: ear training is a necessity and in-ear monitors sound like a great idea. You could even have them record practice sessions for some non-singing study time.
If you're near an area with a solid music department, check out their offerings for vocal pedagogy, or see if you can connect up with a teacher who might serve as a mentor for you if you run into vocal issues.
Best wishes for the interview!
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