What’s a singer’s top concern? Often, pitch. Most singers spend their time worrying, consumed with the focus of “hitting the note”. Well, I know how to hit a nail with a hammer, but I have no idea how to “hit a note”.
Why are we so preoccupied with the pitch? Is pitch the reason you go to a concert or buy a CD? And if you played a song you’ve never heard right now, could you be singing along before it’s finished? Probably. So why is every moment’s worry will I hit the note, what’s the note, where’s the note, will I find it?… That would be like worrying and thinking the whole time while having a conversation about the words coming out your mouth, hoping they match your thoughts, wondering if they’ll be there at all. Silly when you think of it that way yes?
So trust your skill to remember a melody is there, that the body, so to speak will take care of the pitch and you can focus on your vocal tools – pronouncing vowels, balancing energy so your voice feels good. If your skill of recalling melody, maintaining melody is not developed then you need to do ear training. ( The VocalizeU Home Edition has a terrific program for this)
So, the first question I ask someone when I hear they are singing out of tune (not in the harmonics of the key signature at all) is What Are You Listening To? … the answer is 99.9% of the time “My voice”. Concerned about how you sound, hitting the note, getting it right, wondering if you’re matching the melody you hear in your head (which by the way why do you have to? Don’t re-write the song, but nuances and melody and rhythm changes is what makes the song your own), the memory of the song you’ve heard… this all keeps you out of the moment, disconnected from the music (your dance partner so to speak), in your head and focused on things you can not do or have no control of. The process of pitch is mechanical and is more of your bodies job as well as a skill you develop with ear training & practice. Learning technique to get your instrument aligned, functioning properly corrects MOST of the issues of pitch.
So first, listen to the music that fixes ALOT of the issue. Then work your technique with a teacher. Worrying about pitch is no fun and keeps you focused on what’s missing instead of what you’re doing so well! Good technique for a balanced instrument, listening to the music, getting into the groove and expressing yourself while you learn a melody and improve your accuracy and skills – this will allow you to enjoy the process, the moment your growth.
Ps. In 24 years of teaching I’ve never had anyone come into my studio who was actually tone deaf, though many thought they were. It’s usually a mechanical issue – the larynx is high, the cords are too squeezed, singing to hard or straining…