Singing in Tune: What’s the Secret?

Singing in tune is often so difficult for the beginning singer that they might believe they will never be able to sing at all.  This is rarely the truth.  Singing in tune is a developed skill and there are a few secrets to developing it quickly.

I was one of those who could not sing in tune and I believed I just didn’t have the singing gift.  I could hear that I was out of tune but my attempts to fix it were unsure and too late.  By the time I started to fix the note I was on I was supposed to be singing the next.  Once I went off the rails I couldn’t find my way back.

Singing in Tune: Why is it Difficult?

The human voice is not a fixed pitch instrument, like the piano.  We have these vocal cords that act like rubber band, stretching from short and fat to long and thin very quickly in order to find pitch.  It is very easy to miscalculate the adjustments needed for accurate pitch.

It’s All In The Mind

One of the key secrets is to learn something call “prephonatory tuning.”  This is a fancy way of saying you need to adjust your cords to the pitch before you make sound.

The mistake untrained singers make is that they first start singing and then try to adjust to pitch, it is simply too late.

The key is to create the pitch in your mind first, to hear it fully, and only then sing the pitch.  This has an amazing effect of adjusting your cords silently and accurately.  With practice you will become a singing in tune master.

All great singers create the notes in their mind a split second before they sing them.  This not only helps with pitch but also vowel adjustments and air flow.  The better you get at visualizing the experience of singing the better you will sing.

Working With The Piano

The piano is a fixed tuning instrument, meaning each note of a properly tuned piano will give you accurate pitch reference.  This is vital for singing in tune.

Play a note on the piano that is within your comfortable singing range.  After listening to the note try and create it mentally in your “mind’s ear.”  Once it is fixed metally, go ahead and sing the note.

You should find you are singing in tune with much more accuracy.  Keep repeating this on easy to sing notes, choosing them at random.  The time between the playing of the note and your singing in tune should get less and less as you practice this.

Try and do this for 5 to 10 minutes, twice a day.

Songs Of The Mind

Now try singing simple songs very slowly and accurately in your mind (like Mary Had a Little Lamb).  At certain points, stop the song and try and sing the pitch you are on.  Were you able to accurately match what your mind was producing?  If no go back to working with the piano.  If yes, you are well on your way to matching pitch.

Singing In Tune: Sharp or Flat?

If you are out of tune it is important to know which direction you need to adjust. Are you too high or too low from the pitch you want?

The musical terms for this are Sharp and Flat.

If you are sharp that means you are singing above the pitch you want, flat means you are below.  Even a little in either direction is not a pleasant listening experience.

A good way to get a feel for sharp and flat is to once again hit a note on the piano and sing it.  Once you have the note in tune go ahead and raise the pitch slightly.  You are now sharp.

Listen to the sound of singing sharp (it won’t be pleasant).  You need to recognize this in order to adjust it.

You can then repeat this but drop the pitch slightly, you are now singing flat.

Most singers (because of balance issues in singing) will sing flat as opposed to sharp.  In fact, flat singing is the most common pitch issue.

Singing In Tune: The High Notes

Some singers who have a well developed sense of pitch will still sing out of tune on the higher notes (usually flat). This is often caused by registration issues, or the inability to balance their voice in certain areas.  This is a much more involved problem than pitch recognition and usually requires the assistance of a good voice teacher.

Be Consistent

By being aware of the pitches you are singing and working these simple exercises you can improve your ability to match pitch very quickly.  Singing in tune is actually quite easy once you know