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Being on pitch is the most important part of singing. Many vocalists may have a beautiful tone quality but may have trouble with singing out of tune. This is a problem that will make the difference between being an amateur vocalist or a professional vocalist. There are several things that may cause being off pitch, but there are also remedies for these problems. With a lot of practice, all of these problems can be overcome so that the notes will be in tune.
Part of learning to sing on pitch is knowing when the note is not on pitch. Unless someone is tone deaf, which means not being able to hear pitch, the ear can be trained to hear when the pitch is not correct. Learning to listen to the pitches is part of training the ear. A good exercise for training the ear is to match pitches. To do this, have someone play a random note on an instrument. Listen closely to the note, then sing the note, matching the pitch. Now repeat this, moving to another note. The more this exercise is done, the faster the vocalist should be able to match the pitches. Taking voice lessons from a professional voice teacher will go a long way toward training the ear to hear when the notes are out of tune.
Another reason for singing out of tune is not supporting the note with the diaphragm. This is where breathing correctly is very important. When taking in a breath, the diaphragm should expand and the shoulders and chest should remain level. The following exercise will help develop proper breath support. Place hands on the tummy and take a deep breath, holding it. One should feel the tummy push out when taking in the breath. Slowly count to ten, releasing the breath a little at a time. The tummy should be somewhat tense from holding the air; this is called supporting. The vocalist should feel the waistline get smaller as the breath is released. During voice lessons a vocalist will learn other proper breathing techniques to help support with the diaphragm.
Tension in the vocal chords is another cause of being off pitch. This tension may extend to the neck and shoulder areas. All of those muscles should be relaxed when vocalizing in order to sing on pitch and have a good tone quality. Tension may cause a vocalist to strain which in turn may cause the notes to come out either sharp or flat. Learning to relax the neck and shoulders is very important. Developing good warmup habits, such as singing scales, will help with relaxing the vocal chords. Dropping the jaw and raising the soft palate also helps relax the throat area and helps keep the notes on pitch. If going flat on a particular note is a consistant problem, rolling forward onto the balls of the feet and raising the eyebrows can help.
Any serious vocalist should take voice lessons from a professional voice teacher. High school students who are planning to go into the music field should especially take lessons. It is extremely difficult to get into a college music program or get scholarships without having had lessons. Anyone that performs on a regular basis should also take lessons. A voice teacher can teach the vocalist how to keep from straining the voice from overuse and doing damage to the vocal chords. A teacher can also help with learning placement and intonation which will keep the notes on pitch. If a vocalist is prepared to work hard, a beautiful, in tune voice will be the result.