Improving Your Pitch (Part 2)
By Fabio Ramesha Nani
Last month we discussed the importance of proper placement in singing with good pitch. The next most common factor in singing off pitch is lack of proper ear training: the singer is slightly off tune but he/she doesn’t hear it.
Lack of proper ear training is actually much more common among singers than one would think.
But before you can correct it, you have to become aware of it. Because that’s the main problem: not even realizing that you’re singing off tune. For this very reason it’s really hard to correct without someone’s help. But there are tools that can help you improve.
1. Long tones
I’ve talked about long tones in the past as a tool to improve your placement, but they can also be used very effectively to correct your pitch.
- Have someone play a note on a well-tuned instrument, like a keyboard (you can also record yourself doing it).
- Sing that note trying to match its pitch as perfectly as you can. Don’t just use your ears, tune into the frequency and vibration that are unique for each note.
- If you can, record yourself as you sing against that note. Often it’s easier to hear if you’re off pitch when you’re not actually singing
2.Circling through the notes of the chords
- Pick any random note and play it; then play the note 2 steps above that one, then the one another 2 steps higher, then repeat the first note but one octave higher (for example, if you start on C, play C-E-G and end with the higher C).
- Again, have someone play these notes for you or record yourself playing them.
- Play them one after another, very slowly!
- Sing each note as it is played, trying to match it as perfectly as you can. Again, record yourself doing this, if possible.
- After doing this for a while ask your valiant keyboardist to play the notes simultaneously (as a chord), using an organ sound, or any other sound that doesn’t decay like the piano. Continue to circle through the notes one after another several times, making sure that each note you sing is perfectly matching the notes in the chord.
- This is great to do before singing a song; in that case use the chord of the key in which the song is written. If you don’t know the key, go to the very end of the song and look at the final chord. More often than not, that’s the key of the song.
Ear training can and does take time, but it’s well worth the effort. Every singer should make this a part of their vocal training routine, along with warm-ups and breathing exercises.
Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you find a solution for it.