So what exactly is ‘Pitch’?
Pitch refers to how high or low a note is and as a singer, you want to hit each note right in the middle. If you sing slightly above a note, that is called being ‘sharp’. If you sing slightly below a note, that is called being ‘flat’.
Pitch is largely controlled by two factors: Breath support and hearing ability.
Most singers have problems singing ‘flat’ because of a lack of breath support and this is also why, when singers go for those high notes, they come out sounding awful.
But what has pitch got to do with your ears?
Music is a hearing art form and singers need to develop their musical ears to be able to identify whether they are hitting the correct pitch or not.
So how do we go about ensuring we have breathing and musical hearing down pat?
Step 1: Get your breathing for singing in order
Its the most important part of singing and your diaphragm is like the engine room for your whole instrument.
Your ability to breathe effectively affects so many elements of singing, including pitch.
Step 2. Work on your musical hearing
This is called ‘Ear Training’ and there are many, many different exercises that you can do to help you develop your ‘ears’ as we musos say.
Here is a really easy one that I created (actually for singing vocal harmony) but it is a great exercise to start with that will help you develop your pitch.
So in a nutshell, to improve your pitch you need to work on your hearing and your breathing and then the pitch issues should correct themselves automatically. Both take a little time to master because:
Breathing – you are dealing with an internal muscle (your diaphragm) and need to build its strength and muscle memory in order to sing without thinking about your breathing. If you’re practicing 3 x a week for example, you’ll need to do breathing exercises for 5 minutes at the start of your practice session every time you sing for about 1 month in order for it to become second nature.
Ear Training – you are building up a sense that has been taken for granted for so long! That means your ears have become lazy and need a jump start. Consistent practice with your ear training is the key to developing this sense properly.
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