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Try This Pitch Exercise

Never B# and Never Bb –says Mark De-Lisser

When a singer is “out of tune” it is said that they have poor pitching or intonation.

Accurate pitching or intonation is very much determined by the musical ear, but there are many other areas of the vocal process that also need to be functioning correctly, including resonation, breathing, phonation and articulation.

Many singers have poor intonation because of a lack of technique in any or all of these areas.

It is important that the developing singer records their performances regularly to listen to the level of accuracy in pitching that they are achieving.

One exercise that I use with all my singers to see how well their musical ear is developing is what I call the Metronomic Pitch Test!

The Metronomic Pitch Test

You will need a recording device, a metronome (electronic or otherwise), a keyboard, your voice, your ears and your hands.

1. Set your metronome at 140 BPM
2. Start recording
3. Close your eyes (but read the next few instructions first)
4. At random play one note on the piano on the first beat
5. Sing the note back on the next beat
6. Repeat step 4 and 5 continuously until your pitching of the notes is on point
7. Increase the BPM on your metronome and go back to number 4.
8. Continue increasing the BPM to increase the challenge and heighten the development
9. When you are happy with yourself return to number 1.
10. This time play 2 notes. One on beat 1 and the other on beat 2 and sing them back on beats 3 and 4.
11. I think you get the idea …

This is just a simple exercise to really sharpen up your ears and the speed at which you can vocalize notes given to you.

It is important that you are honest with yourself when listening back to the recordings.

If you know that you are not pitching well but you speed up the exercise then you are defeating the purpose of the exercise.

Have some fun with it but be strict on yourself.

This is my last week as your Vocal Coach in Residence – it’s been great to see a wealth of developing talent and to respond to all of your vids!

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Melody Ballard – Come Home (Cover)

Melody, you create a really sweet and innocent sound with a really nice even vibrato sound – it’s good to see it not overused. Your movement into your head voice during the chorus wasn’t as secure as I would have liked it to be. Your playing is good but I sense that you are concerned about this a little too much as it felt as though you couldn’t really let go in this song and the tempo suffered at times as did your pitching. Try recording your piano part before your vocals next time so that you can fully concentrate on your singing or get someone else play for you. Really nice tone though.

Keryth – Now and Forever (Cover)

Keryth – your playing is really nice here. There were also moments where your voice had an emotional connection. However, the emotion of this song comes in the chorus and this was where things became strained and you began in constrict in the larynx. You can afford to take this song down by a tone and a half to really allow room for you in the choruses. Some work is also need on your articulation so that we can hear all the words that you are singing here.

Chanelle Whitney Rawlinson – I Won’t Give Up (Cover)

Chanelle, You have a rich tone for someone so young – lots of depth and fullness of sound. You show good vocal agility and you have a very country-‘esque’ sound which I really like. I need some more emotional connection from you in this song but I believe this will come with time as you continue to develop. There were some pitching issues throughout but generally this is a good performance. Try and enjoy yourself more.

Mark De-Lisser is a vocal coach, vocal arranger, choir leader and vocal producer who has worked with some of the top vocal talent in contemporary music today including Jessie J, Olly Murs, Jamie Woon and Beverly Knight. Mark has taught at many recognized music institutions and held several high profile TV roles including Vocal Coach on BBC’s The Voice UK. Mark actively leads the renowned ACM Gospel Choir and has published “Sing Out!”, two volumes of pop songs for contemporary choirs. Find out more on Mark’s website: www.markdelisser.com

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