How to Be Pitch Perfect
So you’ve been avoiding your friend’s karaoke nights ever since you were old enough to go to out. SingStar is your enemy and you dread campfire singalongs because you’re absolutely tone-deaf. Not anymore…
It’s very common to have pitch problems, particularly if you haven’t grown up learning a musical instrument and don’t have a natural ear for music. Don’t fret though, it’s not so difficult to turn it around. The trick is to start easy.
Start with easy ascending-descending major scales. Then as you get better, challenge yourself with more difficult ones such as minor scales or even chromatic scales. Once you conquer those bad boys you will have your pitch under control. Ask your coach about these exercises next lesson. Start with the C major scale!
The Pitch Bullseye
Singing in tune is all about being able to control your voice. Even if you’re not musical you can differentiate a woman’s higher voice to a man’s low voice. Now if you’re purely a singer and don’t have much musical knowledge it’s important to know some key terms. Such as singing ‘Sharp’ and singing ‘Flat’. When you’re aiming to hit a note, think of it as hitting the eye of the ‘Pitch Bullseye’. If you hit that note too high, we call that being ‘Sharp’ and if you hit that note too low, that’s called being ‘Flat’.
If you’re hitting your notes too sharp or flat practice sliding down into the note. Try this: Play a note on the piano and match the pitch with your singing voice. If it doesn’t sound quite there just yet, use a bullseye and point to where it is, and adjust it higher or lower.
Monkey Hear, Monkey Sing.
So they say 80% of pitch is hearing the note you should sing and hearing the note you actually are singing. So start by listening to your target note on the piano. Now try to hear that note in your head before you attempt it. Start with some simple songs. If you’re ever stuck, go back and listen to the original singer and then sing with them until your pitch matches up. I always tell my students the original song is your cheat sheet or your guide to singing the song.
Now once you think you’ve got it, record yourself and listen back! If you think you’re tone deaf, part of the problem may be you aren’t listening to your own voice. Recording your voice will let you hear your voice back and you’ll be able to easily distinguish pitch problems by listening to your voice back.
Being Tone Deaf
We hear it all the time. “I’m tone deaf.” Well, you most likely are NOT! Bad pitch can be improved with practice. If you are actually tone deaf, you will lack the ability to hear yourself sing and to differentiate pitch. We’ve never met anyone who is truly tone deaf!
Train Your Ears!
Okay, yes that does sound really strange, but you can train your ears to work just like any other skill. Many musicians train their ears to identify pitch, intervals (the distance between notes), melodies, chords and rhythm. It sounds more difficult than it is, but obviously your focus will just be on pitch. Try looking up some online ear training exercises, or talk to your coach about them next lesson. Singing your scales will also help with this.
If you’re a much more experienced singer and you have conquered your scales, start expanding your repertoire by practising intervals. An interval is just the distance in pitch between two notes. All songs are made up of intervals. If you can nail your intervals you will advance very quickly in your singing.
Having Perfect Pitch
Perfect Pitch or Absolute Pitch is the rare ability to recognise or produce a note without having heard a reference note. There is much debate about whether or not perfect pitch can be developed after early childhood, but the science says “no.” But you don’t need to have “perfect pitch” to be pitch perfect when you sing! Most professional singers don’t have perfect pitch. Remember, the goal is to sing in tune!
If you’re still not sure you’re hitting that note, double check by having a musical friend tell you if you are or not. If you’re still hesitant, get yourself some professional coaching. They will have you hitting that note in a quaver beat!