App for jazz scat singers

A leading jazz performer and teacher has created an app to help jazz scat singers develop their technique.

Michele Weir, US based jazz arranger, educator, singer and pianist, is the driving force behind ScatAbility.

Singers using the ScatAbility app can listen to demonstrations by professional jazz singers to learn etudes, exercises and call and response examples by ear.

The singer can then mute the vocal demo track to practice their own improvisational ideas freely with the backing track, then record themselves and export the recording.

Michele said: “I had wanted to create an app that utilises an ear-based approach to scat singing (as opposed to a theory-based approach) for many years.

“I felt an app would be perfect. It would allow the individual singer to work alone in their practice, anytime and anywhere, and would also allow for teachers to mentor students and a fun, and non-threatening way.”

Michele said ScatAbility can be used by singers of all abilities, be they students, professionals or aspiring performers. Private teachers can also use the app in conjunction with their lessons.

Tracks are available in a wide variety of tempos and styles, as well as varying difficulty levels.

There are seven different demo singers featured in ScatAbility, each having a pack of five different tracks.
The demonstration singers include: Darmon Meader (New York Voices); Rosana Eckert (Dallas studio singer and faculty at University of North Texas); Greg Jasperse (Prolific arranger and faculty at Western Michigan University); Justin Binek (Doctoral candidate at University of North Texas and past head of vocal jazz studies at University of the Arts in Pennsylvania); Kate Reid (Chair of the vocal jazz program at University of Miami and pianist/singer) and the app creator herself Michele Weir (Faculty, University of California, Los Angeles, and freelance arranger.)

How the app works

First the singer chooses a track from the free download, “Scat Pack 1.” Regardless of
whether it’s a Call and Response, Exercise, or Etude track, the singer uses the same process in each case: listen, imitate, improvise and record.

The app of course has the usual play, pause and rewind buttons available, as well as a hallway locate button to begin practice at the 2nd half of the track once the first half has been mastered.

There is also a very useful loop function that allows for targeted practice at any particularly tricky spots.
Included in the app is detailed information and tips for how to best use ScatAbility with groups (in the classroom or workshop), and there is a comprehensive jazz term glossary in the app.

More about the product’s creator

Michele is a faculty member at the University of California, and a former member of the Grammy-nominated vocal group, Phil Mattson and the PM Singers. Her arrangements have been performed by groups including New York Voices, Manhattan Transfer, The Swingle Singers, M-Pact, the Boston Pops, Pacific Symphony and many others.
She served as Vocal Producer for the Manhattan Transfer’s 2009 CD release, Chick Corea Songbook, and her educational arrangements are available thru a variety of publishers, including her own online company, www.michmusic.com.

Past activities include touring as pianist with singer Bobby Vinton, composing songs for the Shari Lewis TV show, and music supervision for the foreign language versions of the Dreamworks film, Prince of Egypt. She has also produced a number of educational books and CDs.

ScatAbility is available for IOS devices, the app is a free download with in-app purchases available.


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