Vocal performance tutorial 2 - Pitching notes by Tina & Ben Henderson

Pitching notes simply means singing them in tune...easy to say, but quite often it is the hardest thing for a singer to do. Here are some tips to keeping your pitch. If you are trying to sing the first note of a song, or come in after a pause, you can try one of these two methods ...

1) Imagine the pitch in your head before you sing it: this is often all you need to do in order to overcome the difficulty of pitching the first note.

2) Sing a little adlib. Humming a note to your self before you actually come in can help you. I fyou are trying this live, it can add a little flourish to the song. In the studio, the technical people can always get rid of it after it has been recorded - as long as the first note is in tune, it doesn’t matter what you do to get there!

Singing, in fact all music is made up of intervals: changes in pitch from one note to another. If the note stays the same, that is easy enough to cope with - it is the changes in pitch from one note to the next that often causes the problems. You know what the best way to practice pitch intervals is? Your scales will give you help in changes between tones and semitones.

Try this excercise:

Sing from ...

  • C to C# to C
  • C to D to C
  • C to D# to C
  • C to E to C

etc. all the way up to the octave, (high) C to C

Practice this often and your pitching will improve - that’s a promise!

Also, try the ascending whole tone scale:

C D E F# G# A# C D E ... And then descending.

Next try the Chromatic ascending scale:

C C# D# E F F# G G# A A# B C and descending.

Get hold of a guitar tuner and connect a mic to its input (you’ll need an XLR - unbalanced Jack lead to try this).

Try to sing a note and hold it in pitch - this is really difficult, and helps you understand how little we need to move the throat to alter pitch dramatically.

Sing plenty of long, sustained notes. If you can hold one long note in tune, you’ll be able to hold lots of smaller ones!

Hum a lot. This doesn’t damage the throat at all, and gives you a chance to hear the pitch production before it ever comes out of your head. If you hear a sound, perhaps a police siren or something, try to hum its pitch. If you listen to music in a shop, hum along, whilst thinking about the pitch...you could hum the bass line, the melody, or even a guitar solo! Doing this will give you lots of practice because you can do it wherever you happen to be.

© Tina & Ben Henderson 2007


Vocal performance tutorial index

Tutorial 1 - Breathing

Tutorial 2 - Pitching notes

Tutorial 3 - Lip twisters

Tutorial 4 - Rib cage control

Tutorial 5 - The break

Tutorial 6 - Your head

Tutorial 7 - Volume production

Tutorial 8 - Vowel production