Tuesday, September 18, 2012

HOW TO SING LIKE A PRO: Listen, Part One


Duh, you are probably thinking.

This may seem obvious and easy, but actually it is harder than it sounds. Just ask anyone who has had to listen to their own karaoke performance.

To me, pitch is the most important part of singing.  Bad pitch ruins a performance faster than anything else.  Train yourself to actually hear your voice while you are singing.  If you can hear, you can tune, and if you can tune then you can sing in the correct pitch.

There are tons of things to concentrate on while performing. Listening to yourself and being able to adjust your pitch as necessary should be a top priority. 

This is one reason why so many people like to sing in the shower. Bathrooms are full of tile, which sends the sound bouncing around like mad. You hear yourself good and loud, which can make anyone feel like they are Pavarotti.  Hearing yourself clearly boosts your confidence which just improves your voice even more.  It is a joy to sing a song you love and hear your own voice sounding great.

When I was in college and singing with an a cappella group I knew a lot of singers (including me) who liked to practice in stairwells.  Their voices would echo in the enclosed space, and they could hear themselves very well. Plus they liked showing off (including me).

I am a fan of singing in the shower, singing in stairwells, singing with microphones – anything that will allow you to hear your voice loud and clear.  For one, it is less tiring.  If you can hear your own voice clearly, you will be less likely to strain your voice by oversinging.  Find a place to practice where you can hear yourself easily, and you will not only enjoy your singing more, you will also protect your voice from strain. 

Train your ears to hear pitch, and develop good relative pitch.  This means that when you are given a reference note you can identify the correct pitch of any other note given to you.  Good relative pitch provides an excellent foundation for singing with good pitch, and it will help you not only develop your singing but your overall musicianship.

Some people have absolute pitch, meaning they can correctly identify notes even without being given a reference pitch. It’s a neat trick and useful as a musician, but unnecessary. 

If you don’t have good pitch, don’t get discouraged.  It takes time to develop.  For some people it comes naturally, and for others it takes a lot of training.  Relax, and go at your own pace.  You don’t have to develop good pitch overnight.

Next post will give you some ideas for what you can do to improve your ears and your relative pitch.

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