How much attention do you give to your singing pitch when you practice? Most voice students assume they have the basic skill of singing on pitch since they can easily maintain a tune. However, most young singers are singing off pitch more frequently than they realize. When rehearsing repertoire it easy to accidentally fall just short of or slightly overshoot a voice pitch unknowingly. Sometimes a student will hit a vocal pitch incorrectly, but fix it quickly. If the singer is only singing off pitch infrequently and not for too long, than the problem is not too offensive for the average listener. After all, no one is perfect, right? But it is possible to eliminate voice pitch problems entirely and consistently sing on pitch to create a cleaner sound when you sing.
How does one go about improving voice pitch? First you need to know whether you are singing on pitch or singing off pitch. To do this, sit and practice at the piano. Play a simple scalar exercise (maybe do-re-mi-fa-sol-fa-mi-re-do or do-re-mi-re-do), or even a single pitch. Just listen first. Then sing along as you play. Move from note to note slowly (hold each tone for at least four slow beats) and really listen to your voice pitch. Can you feel your voice in tune with the piano? As you listen closely, you will probably notice that you are not exactly singing on pitch at first. It is likely that when you hit the note you are a little off before you make the subtle adjustment and settle into singing on pitch. Try the exercise again, and concentrate on each voice pitch before you open your mouth to sing. When you start consistently matching the singing pitch right away, try the exercise a little faster. Keep listening closely and carefully to yourself–it is easier to blur the vocal pitch when you are moving your voice quickly. But even in quick passages like runs and melismas, the individual singing pitches must be accurate; even one questionable voice pitch in a run can make the whole passage sound sloppy.
Try these vocal pitch exercises through your whole vocal range. You will probably find that there are certain areas where you are more or less likely to be singing on/off pitch. The passagio (where the voice shifts from chest to head voice) can prove especially difficult to control; this is also true of the extreme high and low ends of the range. Spend extra time working on these areas so that your vocal pitch is even throughout your voice.
Once you have practiced matching voice pitch in exercises, take time to go slowly through your repertoire to make sure you are singing on pitch in your songs. Doing so may point out certain intervals that are difficult for singing on pitch, especially odd diminished or augmented intervals. You may also find difficult chromatic passages that are hard to be singing on pitch. Be sure to work through these passages very slowly–not even in rhythm–to ensure that each voice pitch is in tune. Speed it up slowly, still listening carefully, until you are at tempo.
Knowledge of singing on/off pitch is crucial for any singer. Make sure that you put in sufficient time to perfect this skill.