Music App Review – Erol Singer’s Studio by Erol Studios

Download from iTunes App Storeerol logoSome time ago, I looked at the VocalizeU music app by DS Vocology. This app provided an iOS-based training environment for singers, offering an interactive series of lessons to help develop your vocal skills. As I commented at the time, I was impressed with the VocalizeU and I’ve used it regularly since to coax a bit of life into my own rather rusty vocal chords.

There are, of course, other iOS-based vocal training apps out there and I’ve recently been trying Erol Singer’s Studio by Erol Studios. While this essentially tries to do the same task at VocalizeU – helping you to improve and develop your singing via structured practice – the approach is somewhat different, although equally user-friendly. However, perhaps the most interesting feature of the app is the use of live pitch detection while you are practicing the various exercises. As I’ll try to illustrate below, while this is a very cool visual feature, it is also really rather useful for the budding singer.

Lesson plan

Erol Singer's Studio offers a suite of lessons to suit all abilities with additional materials available as in-app purchases.

Erol Singer’s Studio offers a suite of lessons to suit all abilities with additional materials available as in-app purchases.

In one sense, Erol Singer’s Studio offers a fairly conventional approach to vocal training in that it provides a series of individual voice exercises that you can repeat to develop your technique and the exercises themselves gradually increase in difficulty to suit your (hopefully improving) abilities. The format is, therefore, very straightforward and, while you don’t get the interaction you might get in a one-to-one lesson with an actual singing teacher, at £10.49 (or the equivalent $/€ price) for the base app, it is going to cost you less than a single half-hour real-life lesson would.

The lessons are broken down into a series of sections with introduction and breathing essentials sections giving you some basic techniques pointers. These are followed by four further sections; beginner, exploring head & chest voice, intermediate and advanced. In turn, each section contains a number of individual exercises so, for example, the intermediate section contains nine specific drills.

While there is plenty of content to get you started, there is an equal number of additional lessons available as in-app purchases if you want to add some further variety to your practice. I think this is a reasonable approach on behalf of the developer and, if you do find yourself using the app extensively, you can expand the lesson set as you progress.

Out of range

The app allows you to specify your vocal range and tailors the lessons to suit.

The app allows you to specify your vocal range and tailors the lessons to suit.

One of the neat features of Erol Singer’s Studio is the ability of the app to adjust the lessons to suit your vocal range. This can be defined in a number of ways; by selecting standard ranges for particular voice types (tenor, soprano, etc.), by simply dragging a range bar across a piano keyboard graphic or, most interestingly, by simply singing an ‘ahh’ sound towards the bottom and top of your range and allowing the app to auto-detect a suitable range for you.

This latter option seems to work pretty well and I had no problems with the range of notes then offered during the lessons. You can, of course, adjust your range settings at any time so, as your abilities improve – and perhaps your range widens – you can adjust this setting within the app so that it will help you work on those extended notes.

Perfect pitch

The lessons themselves are fairly conventional vocal exercises based around multiple notes and different intervals. Each lesson includes a pre-recorded male and female audio example so you can hear what it should sound like as a guide and you get a piano performance to follow as you sing through the exercise yourself. This part of the experience would be very similar to a lesson with a singing teacher.

While singing through a lesson, you get a live pitch display to illustrate how well you are doing.

While singing through a lesson, you get a live pitch display to illustrate how well you are doing.

However, what is less conventional is the live pitch detection as you sing through the exercise and a performance score generated for each note indicating how well you have ‘hit’ that pitch through the various repetitions. The display is not unlike one of the top-end pitch correction plug-ins like Melodyne or Autotune with pitch ‘blobs’ for the notes you are trying to hit and a pitch curve that shows the actual pitch you have sung. This is generated in real-time and provides excellent visual feedback, showing you where you have missed a note badly (ouch), perhaps applied too much scoop into a note to find the pitch or where you don’t hold the pitch through a note very well. Vibrato is displayed clearly so you can work on that element of your performance also.

As you sing through the exercise, the pitch blobs transition from blue to green, becoming greener the more accurately you hit that particular note on the various repetitions. Finally, when the exercise is complete, a percentage score is shown for each note. I found this is particularly interesting as it was generally the same notes within a sequence that I struggled with each time I did the exercise and it clearly focuses your attention on where you need to work harder on each drill.

Singing sensation?

When you finish a run through one of the exercises, a final score is provided to show you how well you 'hit' each note.

When you finish a run through one of the exercises, a final score is provided to show you how well you ‘hit’ each note.

Erol Studio have built an excellent user manual into the app (this is online so it needs an internet connection to access it) but, one of the elements of this that I find most reassuring is that it doesn’t try to claim that the app is going to turn you into a superstar singer overnight. The developers provide a pragmatic and very realistic evaluation of what the app can do, how you can use it to improve your singing and, all the while, they place a clear emphasis that ‘practice makes perfect’.

Equally, there is a sensible discussion of how the app isn’t a direct replacement for a vocal coach, particularly in terms of ensuring that you have the basic elements of physical technique in place. However, I suspect the app could easily reduce the number of real-life lessons you might require by allowing you to do some pretty serious repeat training – with that excellent visual feedback – via your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

In summary

If you are serious about improving your singing skills and already own an iDevice of some description, then Erol Singer’s Studio is well worth putting through its paces. It is very easy to use, offers a challenge suitable for most levels of singing ability, provides brilliant visual feedback and tracking of your performance and offers additional content via in-app extras if you get fully hooked.

Nope, it won’t instantly turn you into the next Christina Aguilera or Michael Buble – that’s up to you in terms of the dedication you bring to your practice regime – but it does provide an efficient, engaging and informative environment within which to do some of that practice. If you are a budding singer and up for the challenge and hard work required to improve your skills, Erol Singer’s Studio comes highly recommended.

 

Erol Singer’s Studio


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    Comments

    1. And if you don’t have a beautiful voice is it possible to sing like a star

    2. I have a friend with this app and it works brilliantly… If someone could create an android app for this I would definitely invest in it myself…

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