Simple Steps for Perfect Pitch

It turns out a lot of fans want to be someone like Adele when it comes to the karaoke stage.  According to Lucky Voice, an online karaoke simulator, two of the singer’s hit songs,  “Someone Like You” and her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” ranked as the two most sung karaoke songs in 2011.  Out of the 3 million karaoke performances tabulated through the website, one in four singers chose “Someone Like You”.  “Rolling In The Deep” also placed high on the list.

Singing your heart out on stage is a great way to get over fears of performing in front of a crowd, but it’s always a good idea to keep your audience in mind.  And by that we mean… at least try to stay on pitch.  Need a little help? Continue reading…

Landing Gently
Sometimes we are off pitch when landing on a particular note because we land on it too hard, too fast, or with too much tension.  Here is a great technique to practice called Ghost on the Stairs:

First, emphasize the problem:  Imagine a heavy basketball bouncing down a stairway.  Sing the difficult phrase as if your voice is that basketball bouncing down (or up) the stairway of the notes in the phrase.  Try to land hard on each note – you will probably overshoot pitch.

Now, do the opposite.  Pretend your voice is a ghost floating gently around the stairway.  Sing the difficult phrase by floating gently from note to note, rather than bouncing.  You may need to slow down fast phrases – that’s fine!

Now, find the happy medium between the two, where your pitch lands gently but accurately on each note.

Avoiding Overshooting High Notes
Individual, short high notes can be particularly tricky – they are easy to overshoot since they are psychologically far away.  To increase your accuracy of such notes, first hear the pitch in your mind first, before singing it.  With practice, you can learn to do this even while singing the preceding notes.  Next: If the note isn’t staccato, slide up to it so that you have a chance to calibrate your ears with your vocal cords.  In practice, sing the note by itself (be sure not to strain).  Notice where you feel the pitch.  Does it feel like it’s behind your eyes?  In your nose?  In the top of your head?  Mark this location so that you have a physical reference for where to aim when singing this note.

Repetition to Ingrain Muscle Memory
This approach is especially helpful for fast pitch transitions, such as quick vocal embellishments.  Quick embellishments don’t allow time for pitch adjustment based on hearing, so using muscle memory to ingrain the feel of the intervals will allow you to let your body take over and sing the intervals easily based on familiar feel.

Like most techniques, this approach is most effective done over several short practice sessions than in one or two long practice sessions.  Don’t try to make too much progress on a single day – just push to the tempo that’s currently just past your limits.  If you do this for just a few focused minutes every day or every other day, your brain will integrate your progress at night and you’ll find that the next day, you have improved.  Soon you will find that you have a number of vocal embellishments that you can sing effortlessly because your muscles and body know exactly how they feel.

You might also like…
Using Scales to Improve Your Vocal Range and More
Singers: Do You Make These 4 Common Errors?
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Don’t Let it Damage Your Voice!


Photo by tinou bao, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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