How to Sing in Tune
Singing out of tune is a common thing for singers to do. Even professional singers go out of tune.
Just like how the strings of a guitar can get out of tune all the time, singers can get out of tune for many different reasons.
It does not mean we are not a good singer if we go out of tune.
When you play a wrong note on the piano, you won’t really feel embarrassed but somehow when you sing out of tune, it is embarrassing.
That is because our voice is deeply connected to our psyche.
First of all, there is a condition called tone deafness.
When a person is tone deaf, they have trouble singing in tune.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tone deafness. If you want to be sure, get diagnosed by an audiologist.
The good news is only 1% of the world population is tone deaf.
If you sing out of tune only occasionally, you are probably not tone deaf.
If you sing out of tune for 50-80% of the time, there is still a 99% chance you are not tone deaf.
Here are three common reasons why singers sing out of tune:
- Not recognizing pitches well
- Lacking laryngeal agility
- Performance anxiety
- Breathing technique
Not Recognizing Pitches Well
Pitch means how high or low a sound is.
Some singers, especially those with very little musical experience, have trouble recognizing pitches.
That means they do not know whether a pitch is high or low and they cannot match the pitch they are hearing.
Usually, this happens because they are not fully aware of how pitches sound.
The solution to that is to do lots of ear training exercises.
By visualizing the pitches while hearing and singing them, you will build a map of those pitches in your head.
When you know where those pitches are, you can get to them more easily.
Lacking Laryngeal Agility
The second common reason why singers sing out of tune is when their larynx/voice box is not flexible enough.
Our larynx is made up of cartilages, tendons and ligaments.
Our vocal folds/vocal cords stretch longer when we sing high notes, and they get shorter when we sing low notes.
If you are a beginner, your larynx and vocal folds are probably not flexible.
Your vocal folds will have trouble stretching and vibrating properly for you to sing in tune.
One of the best solutions is to do sirening.
Use the NG sound, as in siNG…
Imagine your voice is an ambulance sirens.
Go from low to high and then back down. Do a few rounds in one breath.
This is like yoga for your larynx.
When my students have trouble singing in tune, and I know they are probably not tone deaf, and even though we have tried a lot of things, they still go out of tune, it can be due to performance anxiety.
These students would always try really hard to sing in tune. They end up trying too hard.
Yes, you can definitely try too hard. When you do, you will overcompensate and end up singing sharp (singing too high).
This can happen when your performance anxiety makes you push with your breath harder than you should have.
More air vibrating your vocal folds mean they will vibrate too quickly, and at a higher frequency.
Higher frequency = higher pitch
Higher pitch = going sharp
Overcoming performance anxiety is absolutely essential in this case.
Your breathing technique would affect your pitch accuracy.
When you are singing, your vocal folds vibrate at the frequency of the pitch you are singing.
If they vibrate too slowly, the frequency will be lower - making you sing flat (or singing lower than you should be).
If they vibrate too quickly, the frequency will be too high - making you sing sharp (or singing higher than you should be).
This vibration is controlled by the air coming from your lungs.
It needs to be the right amount.
You cannot consciously control that, so you need to rely on your intention and aural/listening skills to get it right.
Doing breathing and ear training exercises will help you do that.
Singing in tune is a skill that takes time to hone. No matter how good your pitch accuracy is at the moment, singing in tune consistently takes practice and patience.
Having an open throat will help release tension so you can sing in tune consistently. To find out more about the concept, download my free ebook below:
FREE Ebook: How to Go From Shower to Stage
Discover the 3-step system to gain control of your voice and sing with confidence in public (even if you only ever sing in the shower)
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