I’m usually not a big fan of negative reinforcement, but sometimes it really works. Take the Singing Coach Unlimited software, for example. It really helped me improve my singing voice, but the effect was entirely negative. I’d like to say something good about this software, like the fact that it is a very effective training tool for singers of all levels and that it makes good use of the available technology. Unfortunately, I just can’t get past all the hideous flaws. For starters, the photos on the box are so hilarious that I almost couldn’t bring myself to open the thing. At first, I thought I was having a flashback to Solid Gold (or maybe the Gong Show). When I finally got past the packaging, I discovered that the “deluxe headset” was already broken (saves me the trouble, I guess). I got some real headphones and got plugged in and set up with a minimum of hassle, but then the nightmare really started to unfold. The animated movies that go along with the lesson had me screaming threats at my computer after only five minutes. Another five minutes and I was attempting to strangle myself with the cord from the broken headset.
When I regained consciousness, some awful animated creature with an Italian accent was laboriously discussing the concept of vocal range with a stereotyped German scientist. I felt like I was being forced to repeat a grade school music class for the third time. I reached for a bottle of scotch. The Italian creature was not improved by scotch. A string of expletives helped to distract me from the grating and demeaning instruction emerging from the headphones, but soon my brain went on holiday, refusing to be bothered with any of this pedantic crap anymore.
Three days later, I found myself laying down the best vocal tracks I’ve ever done. My improvement can be attributed to Singing Coach Unlimited, but only indirectly, because of the fear that I might ever have to use that software again. Negative reinforcement really does work, sometimes. Using hypnotic techniques, a psychiatrist was able to recover memories from my brief coma and determined that the software, although effective, moves far too slow for anyone with any musical experience and then you are stuck practicing on the 10,000 Carry-a-Tune approved songs, of which only five or so actually have any real musical appeal (and all of which cost money to download). If you have any vocal talent that you really want to alienate, this is a good product to do it with, but any professional vocalist who needs this software is in the wrong line of work.
Pros: Easy to use, artwork is good for a few laughs.
Cons: Headset is worthless, instructional movies are way too basic and vaguely offensive, may cause suicidal behavior, alcoholism, coma.