If people keep making a face whenever you even attempt to sing, or perhaps, your music teacher told you can’t sing, or maybe even hearing yourself sing at all depresses you, then you must be bothered. You’ve probably wondered time and again why you just can’t sing in tune.
Or you could be a music coach who’s getting to your wits end about one of your students who just can’t sing in tune to save their life. Or maybe there’s this one person in your music group who’s having a hard time staying in tune, and you’ve run many a Google search on how to get barbershop tenors to sing in tune. And even that hasn’t worked.
While these things can be terrible and discouraging, don’t give up just yet.
Quick NavigationStep One: Find out if You’re not Tone DeafStep Two: Learn how to Match a Pitch with Your Voice1. How to learn to match pitch with a digital tuner:2. How to learn to match pitch using an app:3. How to learn to match pitch by recording yourselfStep Three: Developing Vocal ControlStep Four: Sing in TuneHow Long does It Take to Learn How to Sing in Tune?
The truth is that whatever your case, there is good news. A person can learn how to sing in tune. And the how is exactly what we hope to show you in our article today.
Yes, we will be showing you how to teach yourself to sing in tune. And that’s not all, you’d also get some ideas about how to teach someone to sing in tune as well.
The inability to sing in tune varies in severity from person to person. There are those who cannot sing in tune at all. On the other hand, there are also those who will begin on key, but then holding a tune presents the trouble. Oftentimes, said singer would begin to hit all the wrong notes, or even wander out of key altogether.
Now, this doesn’t mean that such a person is an irredeemably terrible singer. It just means that the person hasn’t learned to hold a tune just yet. So, if this is you, don’t get discouraged just yet.
Now, let’s get one thing straight: natural talent is overrated.
Are we saying that there aren’t people born with the natural talent of singing? No. We are just saying that singing can be taught. And even the so-called “natural singers” took years of practice to sing at the level that you’ve come to associate with them now.
In other words, if you just give it some time and practice, you would soon be able to sing like your favorite singers.
So, in this article, we will exhaustively discuss four steps that can take you from singing out of tune, to mastering the ability to sing in tune. If you’re ready to begin your training, then come with us.
Step One: Find out if You’re not Tone Deaf
You’ve probably heard it said, or even said it yourself, that someone is tone deaf. But what exactly does tone deafness mean.
First of all, tone deafness is not just something people say. It’s actually a thing. It’s a real biological condition that actually occurs in people.
Now, there is a condition referred to as amusia. It’s like an umbrella condition under which tone deafness is a part. Amusia refers to a biological condition found in the brain, and it comprises various musical inabilities. Most of these inabilities have more to do with rhythm than pitch, though.
Now, tone deafness is the inability of an individual to differentiate between different musical pitches.
So, what usually happens is, when two separate notes are played on a piano, someone who’s really tone deaf won’t be able to tell whether what they heard was one note or different notes. So, naturally, if said person tries to sing, it’s going to be a real challenge for them. It’s not really the fault of the person, the person’s brain is just clueless as to which notes are right.
However, while you might probably already be attributing your inability to sing in tune to tone deafness, you might want to know…
Tone deafness is an extremely rare condition. Your singing out of tune is most probably a result of other factors entirely.
In fact, from research, only about 3% of humans are actually tone deaf. So, you see your chances of being tone deaf, are almost insignificant.
That said, you might still want to know if you’re tone deaf all the same. Thankfully, you’re not the only one asking to learn how to know if you sing in tune. There are tons of online tests that can help you confirm once and for all if you can sing in tune or otherwise. But we can tell you for free that you most likely aren’t tone deaf.
A bit about those tests briefly…
A tone deafness test isn’t a hearing test, and you don’t need to have musical skills either to pass it. The tests are so designed such that the test-taker can take it with or without any prior musical skill or knowledge. You see, tone deafness is much more than a musical inability, it’s pretty more fundamental than that. And that is why a complete musical noob can easily ace the test without stress.
Now, let’s assume that you pass the tone deafness test (because you most likely will), you’re now a go for the step two.
Step Two: Learn how to Match a Pitch with Your Voice
We have already said that the chances that tone deafness is the root cause of your inability to hold a tune are really small. So, what’s a more likely cause?
You most likely are always singing out of tune because you don’t know how to match a pitch you hear with your voice. So, what does it mean to “match a pitch”?
To match a pitch means that you reproduce a note the exact same way you heard it. This is what it means to “hit the right notes”. Focusing on getting this will help you improve on your ability to stay in tune.
Now, you’re probably wondering how a person can learn to match pitch, right? It sounds very difficult, doesn’t it? Actually, it isn’t. There are many exercises you can try, and most of them are really simple too.
It’s really just about connecting your ears to your voice, period. And your ears can do that because you’re not tone deaf.
Now, there’s such a thing as a feedback loop that you’d need to learn. In a feedback loop, you sing a note and then hear it. If it isn’t at the right pitch, then you make the necessary adjustments to get it right the next time. Simple enough, isn’t it?
Now, that you know that, we will show you the top three ways we have found that can help you match pitch. You can learn to pitch by:
- Using a digital tuner.
- Using an app.
- Recording yourself.
1. How to learn to match pitch with a digital tuner:
You can learn how to sing in tune with a guitar tuner, if you have one. If you don’t have one, then you can use an online one too. But, the basic idea is to tune your voice like you’re tuning a fretted instrument.
- If your digital tuner does not allow you play the target note then you might want to keep an instrument on hand to do that. The tuner will now be used to create that feedback loop that we talked about.
- So, here’s what you do:
- Set your target note on your tuner, but let it be within your comfortable range.
- Next, listen as the tuner plays the tune, or if it can’t, play the note on your instrument. Humming along to the sound isn’t a bad idea too.
- Then practice some audiation, i.e. imagine the note in your head. It is the connection between hearing and singing music. Trust us, it is a really powerful tool.
- Now, sing the note and keep your eyes on the tuner to see if you need to adjust a little bit to hit the note exactly. However, don’t rely solely on the display from the tuner, also try to listen to yourself and see if you’re too high or too low. If you do this, you’d be creating your inner tuner, and soon, you won’t have need for a digital tuner anymore
2. How to learn to match pitch using an app:
- Using an app is an even better way to practice matching pitch. There are different apps available that can help you with how to sing more in tune.
- Many of them offer fun exercises and even show you a graph of how your voice has progressed over time. This could help to motivate and encourage you as you practice.
- A good example is SingTrue. It’s free and you can download it from your iTunes app store.
- If you love gaming, then there’s also “Vocal Match Game”. It works in your browser and can help you practice matching pitch.
3. How to learn to match pitch by recording yourself
- Sing a simple melody while recording yourself.
- With the pitch analysis tool of the software, check out your voice’s actual pitch as you sang in your performance.
- Now, check the off notes, and then try to correct them when you sing the next time.
It’s really that simple.
Now that we have taken care of all these other aspects, this might be a great time for us to discuss your vocal range.
Because aside the inability to match pitch, one other major reason people sing off tune is because they’re pushing beyond their comfortable range.
Every individual has a comfortable range even though s/he can extend it with training. But since you’re just starting out, you might want to restrict yourself to your comfortable range only.
How to find your comfortable range
Your comfortable range is always around your normal speaking register, so we will start from there.
So, say a sentence out loud. You could say, “I’m getting better at singing in tune” for instance.
Now, hold out that last tune, because by doing that, you’re actually singing it.
You will start from this point and begin to move above and below that register in pitch. Keep moving up and down until you can feel a strain in your voice. And then mark these points by using an instrument to find out the notes. Those notes you just marked have now formed the limits of your vocal range, at least until you learn to extend it.
Very importantly, as you practice, ensure that you remain within this range. If not, you might face a lot of pain and heartbreak trying to sing in tune outside of it.
With this step successfully cleared let’s move on to the next step.
Step Three: Developing Vocal Control
If you want to be able to sing a complete song fluidly without falling flat, then you must learn vocal control. That is, you should be able to control your voice to move from one note to another flawlessly. When notes are close together, this can be a relatively easy feat to achieve. However when they are far away, it can get real tricky.
So, how do you solve this? Gain control over your voice using the following tips…
- Scales and exercises: Of course you know what scales are. When a singer sings some notes while going up and down a row, s/he is said to be running scales. It’s a popular warm up exercise because it helps your voice to gently move across pitches while striving to maintain accuracy.
- Do this frequently as part of your warm up exercises and remember to keep to your comfortable range. Once you master it, then you can try the leaps, which is known as singing intervals.
- Using solfa notes: Solfa notes are your regular do, re, mi. So, what you do is to repeat the scales exercise but this time, you use solfa notes instead. This is a particularly great idea because it will also help you with sight singing.
You’ve followed through from step one down to three, and now, it’s time for the fourth step.
Step Four: Sing in Tune
Yes, you are ready. All you really need is the confidence. Confidence is actually like 50% of the work. If you want to build it, there’s one way we know you can try.
Record your singing…
It might be scary but it sure beats singing in front of a crowd.
True, you might not even like the sound of your own voice on tape (most people don’t). But this is isn’t because your singing is bad. It’s just because you sound really unfamiliar to yourself. With time though, and a bit of getting used to, it will get a bit more normal to hear.
Recording yourself is a really terrific idea because it will help you form an objective opinion on your singing. Plus, it will also help you discover areas that still need to be worked on, giving you the opportunity to get your acts together before standing in front of an audience.
And voila! That’s it, an exhaustive guide on how to sing in tune for beginners! It only gets better from here.
And if you’ve hitherto wondered how to teach kids to sing in tune, these techniques are so simple, kids can easily get them too.
But finally, just before we go, there’s one more question we want to answer…
How Long does It Take to Learn How to Sing in Tune?
We wish we could actually give you a fixed time to expect to graduate from the school of signing in tune. However, it doesn’t work that way. Everyone is different, and the severity of the case differs among individuals as well.
A better advice might be to forget about how long it might take you for now, and instead focus on giving this all you’ve got. You might be shocked at how fast you’d pick up singing in tune once you lift the pressure off of yourself.