By Chris Glyde
The bane of just about every singer: pitch problems. “You’re too flat”. “You’re too sharp”. “That note sounded a little shaky”. “Get out of my business”. Where do pitch problems come from? I have tons of students who have perfect pitch who still find themselves flat all the time. How is this possible?
The first culprit people yell at is your ear, Which makes sense. As a vocalist you should be able to listen to the pitch, adapt the pitch, and then change it accordingly to make the sound fit better. For many people it really is their ear. If that’s the case then you just require some ear training. If this is your specific problem then you need to simply practice singing specific keys. You need to listen to a scale and then sing up it. You need to spend time recognizing intervals. This is definitely a must-practice issue.
I don’t typically find this is the issue though. Most people can tell when they’re off-pitch. We’ve all listened to a lot of music in our life. Most people should have no problem determining whether or not they’re in pitch. It is extremely rare for people to be truly tone-deaf. What most people do is instead struggle to figure out how to get themselves back in pitch. So there is a missing block. This is where, in my opinion, the majority of pitch problems stem from.
This missing block is vocal technique. Singing, in its basic essence, is the control of air flow. To control this air flow you must have proper diaphragmatic breathing. Most people don’t, even if they have had a couple years of vocal training. As a result, these people tense up their neck muscles and any other muscles to cut off the air flow. When you begin using muscles to cut off airflow these specific muscles are playing a role in the pitch or note of what you’re singing.
In order to hit that note every time you need to tense up every muscle the same exact way. If you don’t there will be more air, which is not only harmful, but will change up the pitch of your note. If you squeeze to tightly you’ll wind up sharp. If you don’t squeeze enough then you’ll wind up flat.
Pitch control is another reason why technique is so important. The voice is made up of several elements and they are all connected. You need to work on your technique to improve on all the other aspects of your voice. If your technique is flawed then your pitch will be flawed as well. There’s no way around it.
So if you’re having pitch problems and you’re unsure where they’re coming from I would examine your technique. Strengthen your technical flaws and you’ll be surprised how much better you get. That being said you can’t simply try vocal lessons for a year and expect that this problem is going to go away completely just like that. This is not the case. If you train for a year it may get better, but you need to commit to getting your voice handled. Three years with a proper vocal coach and consistent practice and you will no longer have these problems. You must commit.
About the author:
Chris Glyde is a vocal coach who doesn’t sugar-coat or give out excuses for people. If you’re looking for a great voice and want a 100% success rate check out Voice Lessons in Rochester. There is no easy way to improve your voice, there is no such thing as a quick tip to get vibrato. Commit and you’ll be rewarded.