How To “Sing On Pitch”: Part 2
In our last article, we talked about the 2 steps you need to correct pitch problems with your singing. In this post, we will go a little deeper with how to better develop your pitch to sing “in-tune”.
To sing on pitch, you need to do to find the “center” of every note:
- First play a note in your lower range and sing it back “dead center”. Listen back to hear whether or not you’re flat or sharp. Can you get good at recognizing as you do it? Or do you need to listen back to know? Learn to recognize as you sing. Sounds that are easier are: “mmm”, “eeee” and “ooo”. Sounds that are more challenging are “eh”, “ah” and “uh”. Singing a held note is more easily done using vibrato, rather than a “straight” tone without vibrato. If you don’t have vibrato, I’ve developed a system for learning how to do it in my book.
- Once you know how to “lock in” dead center of a note, then you need to be able to sing the note in the same way, but while playing a chord (3 notes) on the guitar or piano – rather than playing just the one note – and still hold the note dead center. Being able to sing the right note while 3 notes in a chord are being given to you is challenging because the brain sometimes gets caught up in the wash of noise and can’t “lock-in” on the right pitch. It’s great practice because this is what you have to do in songs all the time.
- If you want to perfect your pitching further in actual songs, understand that you will now need to
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learn to “listen” to a chord (a series of 3 notes hit at the same time), and perceive each note in the chord (be able to sing each of them, not know what they are by letter name) as the notes are made at the same time. This will take practice. You don’t have to master this skill, you just need to learn to BEGIN, to perceive the differences between the notes.
- Sing one line of a songs melody that stays in the part of your range where you are most comfortable, usually the lower range, through “mmm”. “Mmm” will make it easier to find the right notes because the mouth is closed. Singing actual vowels on pitch can be much harder, especially “wide” vowels like “ah” and “agh”, where the mouth is most open.
- Find the first pitch of the melody on an instrument and sing the melody again.
- Then go one semi-tone higher on the piano, and start singing the melody from that note. Notice how you should be singing in a different “key”. All the notes will be shifted a half-step higher, not just your starting pitch. The point is to feel the pattern of notes shift to a different key – in this case a higher one – and how you have to adjust the melody of the song to the new key.
- Try one more semi-tone higher. Feel how in a new key, all the notes, and the “feel” of the new song change completely.
- Then do the reverse and sing the melody lower in your range by finding a lower first note to start on. By doing this, you are changing the key of the melody or song your singing. You might find that it’s tricky to sing the melody in a different key, but this is the essence of, and absolutely essential to, being able to perceive singing “on pitch” with the key of the music you have to sing to.
- If you can, get someone (ex. your coach) to play the pattern of notes that belong to each of the keys you were just singing in. Really hear how the melody’s notes are selected from the pattern of notes in the scale. Hear how the notes of the melody relate to the scale. Remember that learning any new language takes awhile. Like any language, there are rules and nuances that must be learnt in order to sing “on pitch”. In singing, the “rules” are a pattern of full tones and semitones. It’s 1 pattern. This pattern is used 95% percent of the time in western music. It’s the major scale. So the good news is, you just have to learn the one pattern. The other good news is that you don’t have to “know” by hearing what the actual notes are. You just have to learn to learn to percieve the correct pattern of notes in the key being played to you by listening to the chords.
- Practice singing the major scale in every key. Really learn the nuances between every note in the major scale and practice singing it in every key. This is actually a difficult exercise because of the way notes that are closer together affect the voice – it’s generally harder to sing notes closer together. It’s easier to sing arpgeggios for instance and that’s why we use arpgeggios mainly in balancing the voice.
- LISTEN ATTENTIVELY TO ALL THE NOTES. LISTEN. LISTEN. AND THEN LISTEN SOME MORE. Really listen to the pattern of the major scale how every note relates to the one before and the one after. Learn the pattern in different keys. Learn to “feel” the major scale so much that you dream it in your sleep and eat it as a snack between every meal. Snuggle up with it as your falling asleep. Sing it in your mind, and hum it as your driving or walking between places you gotta get to. The deeper you know it, the better you will get at finding “the center” of every note faster, and the more enjoyable your singing will become to listen to.
Hope that helps! Let us know if you have questions!