Pedagogy and Products October 3, 2015

Vocal Tips from a Pro. Nothing beats having a private vocal coach. Your voice teacher can catch bad habits before they become ingrained; give you immediate feedback on pitch, breathing, posture, and other crucial facets of good singing; and provide moral support when things are going well. However, that is not to say you can’t get some good advice, practice drills, or breathing exercises on the web. There are lots of qualified professionals out there who are willing to send you a wealth of information on good

singing if you care to sign up for their newsletters, or YouTube and email blasts. You don’t want to just dive in willy-nilly however; stick to ones your coach recommends or at the very least, check them out with your teacher first. The best ones stick with tried and true techniques which you will find familiar from your weekly lessons. This means they can provide a way to practice between lessons and reinforce the good things you have already learned.

One good program I have found recently is the video series from Australian singer and vocal coach Nicola Milan on the website Singers Secret. While Milan has a variety of for-purchase resources on songwriting, performing, and finding your own voice/style; you will also find several short videos offering exercises on the following topics: Phrasing for singers, Strengthening Your High Notes, Strengthening Low Notes, How to Improvise, How to Stop Voice Cracking, and Adding Drama to your Songs. She even has a really handy resource section with advice on choosing the best microphones, ear training software, home recording software, and music notation software. And all of this is free! Check out her website at:

Turn your Phone into a Studio. The new Piano Adventures Player App from Nancy and Randall Faber puts the sound of a rock band, jazz combo, or even an entire orchestra into the palm of your hand. Works with any Apple mobile device; no more disks to juggle or cumbersome file to transfer. Piano Adventures Player works like a jukebox to accompany any acoustic piano or digital keyboard. Three screen views provide different modes of interactive learning – Keyboard View reinforces the student part, Notation View highlights the score and Mixer View lets you adjust volume and balance on four different channels – left hand, right hand, accompaniment and metronome. State-of-the-art instrumental sound samples deliver premium sound quality with a user interface that is elegantly designed and appropriate for all ages and instructional levels. Includes a full midi keyboard and offers great options such as pop-up tempo slider for control of tempi for individual parts; volume and balance controls; and even allows you to set loops to rehearse difficult sections. A built-in metronome keeps the beat. Choice of keyboard view or score view, with a liquid layout which reflows as you zoom in or out.

Great for classroom use or by individual musicians as well; works in conjunction with the entire Piano Adventures library of sheet music. Makes practicing more productive and reinforces good performance skills, while it helps in achieving the perfect balance necessary for the development of good ensemble skills. The app itself is free; song downloads require additional purchase. Comes with a built-in user guide to help you get started right from the get-go. App download entitles you to three free songs per each level in the series. Available on the Apple App Store or by contacting the developers at

More Effective Practice. Have you ever wasted valuable practice time shuffling between method books and sheet music to transpose a piece or work out the fingering on your woodwind instrument? Now, thanks to a new line of rotary fingerings guides/training aids from medical engineering firm DXDT Engineering you can make every moment of your valuable practice time count. Made of durable plastic, these round wheels are similar in design to a circle of fifths chart. The front side has a detailed diagram of the instrument with clear and detailed pictures of fingering for each note; the rear side has the traditional circle of fifths with the same fingerings.

The unique rotary design of these rotary woodwind fingering charts make them perfectly suited for use as a key transposition aid. Simply aim the main pointer to the key of the piece you wish to transpose and place a piece of tape or an erasable mark on your destination key. Now whenever the main pointer is directed to a note in your piece to be transposed, the transposed note will be pointed to by the temporary marker. Available for flute, saxophone, and clarinet. Can be purchased individually or in bulk for distribution to classroom students. Order on Amazon or by contacting the manufacturer directly at To keep up to date with more of blog posts, you can subscribe to our blog, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Keep Learning! Kath

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