If you want to be able to sing the songs you know and love, then you need to be able to sing in tune. The good news is that just about everyone has the ability to do so. I have already encountered countless people who have felt like they have no singing ability whatsoever.
On the other hand, when they are able to put their minds to it, I have found that just about anyone is able to sing in tune. Instead of your friends and family members looking at you with pained faces because you are “off-key” or because you have a “bad singing voice,” you can learn how to sing in tune properly! There are a few points to address in achieving this goal.
The Biggest Issue with Learning to Sing In Tune
If you feel like you are having trouble staying in tune, then you are not alone. This is a common starting point for many people that I have encountered in the past. Some people are able to start off okay but cannot hold their pitch or tone throughout the entire song. In other situations, people simply hit scattered wrong notes when they leave their natural singing register.
Instead of thinking that you simply have a bad voice or cannot sing a song at all, you simply have to practice, like mastering any other skill.
The biggest challenge that people face when they are first learning to sing is that they start out with the wrong idea for achieving a great tune. Instead of believing that singing is a natural talent that you simply have or do not have, you need to think about how you can improve your singing ability. In reality, the top singers in the world have spent countless hours practicing and training, learning how to refine their voices. You can do the same. Therefore, regardless of where your current singing ability is at, take a look at some of the most important steps and tips that I have put together below.
First, Make Sure that You Are Not Tone Deaf
The first step to overcome before you are able to sing in tune is to make sure that you are not tone-deaf. Tone deafness is a biological issue and is a real condition. Instead of simply assuming that this is something that people get made fun of when they cannot sing, understand that this is actually a biological condition called amusia. This encompasses a number of musical problems, including rhythm issues, pitch tissues, and tone issues. If you are tone-deaf, this means that you are completely incapable of spotting the differences that are located between various musical pitches.
Practically, what tone deafness means is that if someone were to strike two separate notes on the piano, someone who is truly tone-deaf would be unable to tell whether or not the same note was hit twice or if two different notes were actually struck. Therefore, if this individual were to try to sing, they would have issues because they would not be able to spot the various differences in their voice. Their ears and their brain would not be able to tell if they were singing the right notes.
Therefore, before you start trying to improve your ability to sing, make sure you are not tone-deaf. True tone-deafness is actually incredibly rare. A very small fraction of the population truly suffers from tone-deafness. Therefore, instead of assuming that you are simply tone-deaf, it might be a good idea to actually take a test for tone-deafness. Then, if you pass this test, you can get to work improving your ability to sing in tune.
Work on Matching Musical Pitch
Now that you have realized that you are likely not tone-deaf and that your ears and brain are capable of telling whether a note is correct or not, it is time to get to work addressing the most likely reason why you are having issues singing in tune. The most common problem is that you are unable to match the correct pitch of the note with your voice. When you match the pitch of the note, this means that you hear a note and are able to sing the exact same note. When singers talk it out reaching for and hitting the right notes, this is what they are talking about.
If you have had trouble hitting the right notes or singing in tune in the past, then you might have heard someone say that you have issues with your tune or your pitch. Before you can master that epic pop ballad, you have to be able to match the right pitch. This is where a few helpful exercises can get you on the right track.
There are a few simple ways that you can get to work back in the right pitch. These include:
- Use a Digital Tuner: If you have a digital tuner for an instrument, such as a guitar, you can use this to help you match your pitch to the note. Most digital tuners provide a display that will help you develop a feedback loop. You can make the tuner play a certain note, hear the note in your head, and then sing the note yourself. The tuner will let you know if you are too high or too low. Then, you can adjust your pitch gradually until you hit the right note.
- Use a Mobile Application: A digital tuner is very easy to use and available to everyone. At the same time, you might be more comfortable using your phone. There are plenty of apps available to help you match the pitch of the note with your voice. For example, an application called SingTrue is one of the most popular options available to help you master the right pitch. The good news is that this app is even available for free.
- Record Yourself and Analyze It: Once you are able to match single notes, you may want to try singing an entire melody. There are software programs available, such as Audacity, that can perform an entire analysis of a string of notes. Then, you can figure out which notes are off-key and which notes are correct. This will help you identify common problems that you might be having when it comes to singing in tune.
These are three helpful ways that you can hone your tune. Figure out which one is most comfortable for you and get to work mastering the right pitch.
Work on Vocal Control
Once you are able to match your pitch to various notes, it’s time to work on your vocal control. This refers to the ability to control your pitch as you move from note to note in a song. Vocal styles such as vibrato singing are great for overall vocal control. Once you are able to control your voice effectively, you will be able to sing the entire song in pitch. If you are having trouble with your vocal control, then you might be able to sing the first few notes but then feel your voice get tired, causing you to stray from the correct notes as the song goes on. For example, if you have ever listened to a karaoke performance that starts off strong and fades at the end, voice control is probably the culprit.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to vocal control is handling large leaps in pitch. For example, if you have to jump from a low note to a high note very quickly, you could have trouble hitting both notes properly. This is where training is important. One of the most common examples of this is singing the first few notes of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In the first two notes, you are asked to hit a low note and a high note back-to-back.
There are a few ways that you can work on your vocal control. These include:
- Use Scales: If you have played a musical instrument in the past, then you are probably familiar with scales. In a scale, you will sing a rapid series of notes from low to high and then back down again. This is going to help you develop your vocal control across a wide range of pitches. You probably have great control in your natural vocal register; however, you need to be able to control your voice outside of this register as well.
- Use a Solfege To Sing in Tune: You can also use something called a solfege, such as “do re mi,” to name each note and help you understand which note you are trying to hit with each sound. This is a helpful addition to your scale exercises to help you control your vocal register. There are lots of different examples of solfege out there depending on which scale you are singing.
It is probably helpful for you to put both of these tools together. When you are able to sing basic scales effectively, you can venture outside of your natural vocal register. Think about a vocal scale that starts in the middle of the piano and then widens out to the edges. You want to be able to control your voice across a wide range of notes, which is where larger and more extreme scales can be helpful. After this, you can work on arpeggios as well, which are a series of notes that are not necessarily right next to each other on the piano. This is a bit more challenging but can provide you with even greater vocal control.
Challenge Yourself: Singing With A Country Twang
Prove To Yourself That You Can Sing in Tune
The last thing you have to do in order to learn how to sing in tune is to prove to yourself that you can do it. It is one thing to be able to sing in tune in the shower, which seems to make everyone’s voice sound just a little bit better. You need to prove to yourself that you can sing in tune even when the conditions are imperfect. In order to sing well, confidence is key. Therefore, you have to prove to yourself that you can do it by recording yourself singing.
It is true that recording yourself singing can be intimidating and unnerving at the beginning. At the same time, it is going to be less scary than standing in front of other people. In order for you to be able to sing well in front of others, you need to be able to sing well in front of yourself. It is true that just about everyone hates the sound of their voice at first. At the same time, this discomfort comes from unfamiliarity. The more familiar you get with your own voice, the better you are going to feel about yourself.
It is a good idea to build your singing repertoire at first. Your repertoire is the list of songs that you know well and can perform confidently. Start by picking out just a few songs at first. Practice the song with a background track first. Then, record yourself without the track and see how you sound. The hardest part of this process is actually listening back to your performance. Therefore, try it again and again. Record it several times. Figure out which one you like the best and be proud of what you’ve done. Once you recorded the first song well, add another one.
Even though you might think you are tone-deaf, the reality is that the vast majority of people are simply having trouble hitting the right notes with their voices. By taking a few simple steps and practicing on a regular basis, you can learn to refine your tune. Then, you will be able to sing your favorite songs in front of your family members and friends, showing everyone that you have the ability to sing beautifully.
James is an ex-writer for Music Grotto who focused the majority of his writing on the musical skill development content on the publication. His 20+ year career as a singing and vocal coach provided insightful content for the website, and his continued thirst for development in guitar and piano playing helped create some excellent skill development content for the publication.