Awareness and practice can solve a “pitchy” voice –says Lisa Popeil
If you love to sing and know that you’re pitchy (whether sharp, flat or both) more times than you’d like, I’d like to offer numerous potential fixes or strategies to minimize pitchiness and maximize tuneful singing.
Obviously, if you’ve sustained real hearing damage, whether from overly loud music, guns or simply a birth defect, consider getting hearing aids.
Consider getting a complete hearing test with an audiologist to learn if you have a hearing problem or not.
Here are some of my best tips for singing in tune:
Record your singing voice using a microphone and headphones. Listen back carefully and notice which notes are out of tune. Can you tell if you’re flat or sharp?
Cup behind your ears with your hands to make ‘big ears’. Place your elbows approximately 12 inches apart. Sing and you should notice that you can hear yourself in a dramatically improved way. With this technique, you can train your brain to hear more precisely what others are hearing.
Take both hands and place them palms-down on your upper chest with your fingers touching your collarbone. When you sing, move your fingers quickly and randomly up and down touching your collarbone while singing. You should notice that both hemispheres of your brain are active simultaneously and that you can ‘hear’ better!
Doo, Doo, Doo. Do you know which notes you’re supposed to be singing? Figure out on a keyboard or guitar the actual notes of your melody and sing the melody on “doo doo doo” before singing the words.
Last fun one tuning helper: ear massage. With your fingers, lightly rub up and down on the skin in front of your ears for about 10 seconds. Then gently pull out on the edges of your ears from the top part down to the earlobes and gently and quickly pull outwards on the edges. You should notice you can hear better for some time after massaging around your ears.
The ability to sing in tune is probably a genetic gift but most singers can improve their tuning ability with awareness and practice.
Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids from Gina Latimerlo
James – Your Song (Cover)
James, you have an easy going feel and a nice, natural tone. Your speech-like phrasing for this song is a great choice…especially in the verses. Go ahead and be more melodic and lyrical (i.e. connect your notes more) in the choruses. Your jaw stays very closed throughout the song, but you’ll make a more rich and memorable tone if you open your jaw and give the sound some space. It will feel completely strange, but trust me and open your jaw. I’d love to see even more emotion and story-telling in your eyes as you perform, as well.
Matt Iverson – Jessie’s Girl (Cover)
Matt, I love this kind of live loop performance. Very trendy and exciting to watch – I feel your energy from across the computer! Please turn your vocal mic up more so we can hear your sound. From what I can hear, you have a very friendly pop voice. You can strengthen and clarify your vocals by sitting up straight (when you slouch, you collapse your diaphragm muscle). Also, be sure to use more abdominal support by firming your abdomen out while you are singing – this keeps more air in your lungs and out of your sound.
Gabby – Skyscraper (Cover)
Gabby, you have a cool R&B feel, especially on your low notes, and I can see you are authentically feeling the song. You’re primarily using what I call “fakey” voice. It has a lot of air running through it and can be used effectively in choirs and such. For pop and rock, though, we need a strong, full, clear voice. To achieve this sound, breathe low in your belly and then push your belly out while you are singing (so that your belly doesn’t collapse in). Then, really focus the sound through your nose – aiming for a strong, clear sound.
I want to applaud all the folks who put their stuff up here. It’s a vulnerable thing to bear your soul on the internet, and you are brave to do it. So, go you!
Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach, voice scientist and researcher, contributor to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’, is a voting member of NARAS (Grammys®), creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the ‘Total Singer’ DVD and a new book ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ and has taught voice professionally for over 35 years. www.popeil.com
Gina Latimerlo is a polished performer of over 20 years. Teaching and directing since 1995, she opened The Latimerlo Studio in 1998. Her students have performed on Broadway, in touring companies, and have signed with talent agents and record labels. In addition to the main studio, The Latimerlo Studio oversees private voice teachers in over a dozen cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.latimerlo.com