There are many sites with tips on how to learn to sing in tune. However, ultimately learning comes down to feedback and active practicing.
While it is important that you know, how to produce a good sound with volume and a steady pitch, this article focuses on "in tune". The main attribute of tune is pitch. Therefore it is necessary to learn to control your voice for a specific attribute: pitch. You must know, how to produce low and high notes. You also should be aware of your limits and your vocal break. That means you must analyze your voice. Easier said than done.
If you have little or no musical experience, it is likely that you do not know when you are in tune and when not. Therefore, in the beginning you need external feedback. This could be a good friend who has a good musical background, or a tuner, or - if you already can easily differentiate two notes - a piano or other well tuned instrument.
Because you need an unbiased neutral answer to the question: Am I in tune? If this answer is based on facts then you can start to improve your singing towards your goal: sing in tune. The better the feedback the better you can take correcting actions and the faster the progress. Let me explain it with a visual easy understandable analogy: Hit the bullseye with a rifle.
Assume your are a shooter that always hits the target when aiming through a rifle-scope:
That is, if we pull the trigger, we hit the center.
Now assume that you get a rifle which has a rifle-scope which is mounted incorrectly. That is the bullet will not hit the bulls eye, but always be off by some yet unknown offsets. Now, assume that in a competition all shooters have to use this same rifle and you have several test shots, before the competition starts. In this way you should figure out the offset and then during the competition you compensate for the offset by aiming at a different point than the center.
Now to figure out the offset and to be able to correct for this offset you need feedback. To demonstrate the need of feedback, the next picture shows you the offset, when the bullet crosses the target.
The blue arrow demonstrates the effect of the misaligned scope
However, as a participant of the competition, you do not know this offset. You only know that the rifle -scope is not mounted perfectly.
In this way, we can easily demonstrate the desperate need for feedback.
If we don't get a chance to do sighting shots then we might aim anywhere and just hope.
This situation is equivalent to starting the contest without the possibility to do practice-shots.
If you do not get any feedback where the bullet did hit the target, you have no chance to correct for this circumstance. If you are lucky, you may hit the bulls eye, but since you don't know where the bullet hit the target, chances are small. You are like blind. You have no clue, where to aim at. Since you do not know the offset, you may aim anywhere and just hope that by luck you pointed to the right spot, which will hit the center:
However, if we get - as a feedback - the number of points we made, we can start "searching" for the offsets. Let us say in our sample we got 7 points, when we aimed at the center:
Since we know that the bullet will hit the the target in the purple circle with the7 points, we may start by aiming horizontally to the 7 to the right of the center:
This time we will get 9 points as a feedback. Much better. If we would have tried to the left instead of the right, we would have gotten less points (in the sample used we would have gotten only 4 points) as a feedback.
Now, we have to figure out the vertical offset. To do that we will aim at the seven above the center:
This time we get 5 points as the feedback. That is: It got worse, we have moved away from the goal.
With this knowledge, we can figure out how to compensate for the offset: We have to aim to the right and below of the center. Repeating this cycle several times leads you to the new point you have to aim at, so that we hit the bulls eye. Pretty complicated, but compared to no feedback much superior: Since you can take actions to reach the goal.
But now assume that you get full feedback after the first shot, that is you get told where the bullet hit the target. Not only the ring, but the complete location (Notice the yellow point in the feedback picture represents the location where the bullet passed).
This makes it very easy for you to hit the bulls eye with the next shot: You can directly adjust your shot by aiming at the opposite side where the bullet hit the target:
As you can see, the better the feedback the better you can correct and the faster you get good results.
The main reason to sing out of tune, is the lack of feedback. To sing in tune means to match a pitch. To match a pitch ultimately means to compare it against a reference tone. The more precise the feedback for this comparison the faster the progress. There are two things to look for to be in tune:
- you have to know where to aim (for singing: conceptualize the sound in your mind)
- you have to take correcting actions relative to the outcome (for singing: adjust the sound producing process)
For the first point, the ideal situation is: you have developed absolute pitch. However, this is seldom the case and not so important. Since you not always have the sheet music with you, and if you sing in a group it may be that the song gets started on a different pitch than noted on the sheet. To improve in the area of absolute pitch, you have to improve your inner ear. That is you must train to mentally hear a sound precisely in your head. This is a tedious process to learn and as mentioned not necessary. Since the second point - taking correcting actions - goes usually very fast - and gets you in tune with the actual music. Nevertheless, ear training to improve absolute pitch, will improve your inner ear, since you have to sharpen your listening skills to reach that goal.
The second point needs two skills: First: hear the difference - how far am I apart from the target, and second: change the pitch - how do I produce a lower or higher pitch. Hearing the difference means keeping a target pitch within your inner ear and comparing it with an external pitch. That is you should be able to keep a heard sound in your inner ear for a longer time period without sliding off the pitch. This basic skill is necessary to compare two notes: a physical external note with the pitch in your inner ear. In this way you can take correcting actions: adjust your singing - the external pitch - to your kept inner target pitch. In the beginning your tonal memory may be very short, but with practicing to hold a note and to repeat short melodies the inner ear will get better. Changing the pitch means you must know how to control your voice. Practicing going up and down will give you hints what variations in your voice lead to lower or raise your pitch.
Learn to sing in tune with the program listening singing teacher
The program Listening-Singing-Teacher contains a tuner and gives you visual feedback. The program not only gives you feedback on pitch, you can also see the change of the pitch over the time. That is you can see, if you start singing the note too early or too late. In addition Listening-Singing-Teacher also has exercises for rhythm with visual feedback and gives you feedback on the loudness. The program allows you to listen to the target note while you sing the note and try to match the target note. In this way, you get the experience, how it sounds, when the two notes are in tune. You will also witness that if you slide into the note,- that is if you come from a too high or too low pitch to the correct pitch -,you will recognize a beat frequency, if you hold the note long enough on a slightly off pitch. A beat frequency is the frequency, with which the sound gets softer and louder with the pitch difference of the two sounds. In the video Music Theory Explained - Equal tempered scale you can hear such a beat frequency. In this video the beat frequency is very low, therefore we speak of a wholing. Of course you need a headset, to do exercises, which involve listening to the target note, so that the microphone does not pick up the sound of the program instead of your voice.
Here is a picture of the feedback you get with the program Listening-Singing-Teacher:
The pitch feedback line shows that the person started too high and ended too low. The green part of the line signals that the person was in tune. This real-time feedback allows for easy correction of the pitch to get in tune with the melody. The method will teach you to visually control your voice and at the same time will improve your listening skills.
And of course you need to practice. You cannot make progress, if you do not practice. Since without practice no feedback: you stay blind to use the analogy above. In this way the feedbacks from Listening-Singing-Teacher help you to learn to sing in tune fast. Of course the best feedback you can get is from a trained vocal coach, since he can give you feedback not only on pitch and rhythm, but also on posture, breathing, overall performance, etc.
With practice you make progress. With progress comes confidence. In this way, keep practicing and use the feedback to make progress faster. The track keeping of earned points for each exercise helps you to see your progress.
Download the free trial of listening singing Teacher at www.listening-singing-teacher.com. The program will give you feedback on pitch, rhythm and loudness. See how good you can hit the notes and what level you can reach. Do not worry if you have a low score, try to repeat the exercises, and see if you can make progress and feel more comfortable the next time. Do not give up after just two tries: If you can see that you can make any progress by the various feedbacks you get, you have got something you can work on. Singing on pitch and time, and not shouting during a silent period, are the main issues to sing along with an accompaniment. Just to know that you can control your voice in terms of pitch, will improve your self confidence.
Listening Singing Teacher, Listening Music Teacher, Listening Ear Trainer, TuneCrack, The Red Pitch Dot, The Colored Pitch Line, The Counting Hints Line, The Half-Step Brackets, The Precision Listening Method, The Singing Funnel Method, The Octave Anchor Pitches Method,The Interval Overtone Method, The Pitch Keeper Method, Absolute Pitch Point and Same Pitch Please are trademarks of AlgorithmsAndDataStructures, F. Rudin. Macintosh and OS X are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc., IBM PC is trademark of International Business Machines Inc., Windows XP/Vista/7 is trademark of Microsoft Inc. All other company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners