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Watch more How to Sing: Singing Lessons for Beginners videos:
Hi I’m Cari Cole. I’m a celebrity vocal coach and artist development expert. And I help artist find their voice, craft their music, and create successful music careers. I’ve worked with Donald Fagen from Steely Dan, Courtney Love from Hole, I’ve worked with the band Journey. I’m going to teach you how to be a better singer and performer
I’m going to give you an exercise and a lesson for singing with good pitch. Those of you who watch American Idol, the word “pitch” has become a household word. We all know what that means when a singer is singing slightly off-pitch. Pitch is something that even good singers work hard to have. You can have a really good musical ear and have a good musical voice, and still go slightly off-pitch. You can have a voice that goes off-pitch just from not being a singer and not using the voice much. The more you sing, the better your center of pitch gets. You want to think of pitch like a circle with a bullseye right in the center. Different singers actually sing and professional singers who have good pitch all have a slightly different center of pitch. So there are some singers that sing slightly sharp, and some singers that sing slightly flat, but not enough to go outside of that circle. So it sounds like its really good pitch, but if you put them together singing in unison, you would even hear that.
Now for your, starting to get a better sense of pitch, I want you start thinking of your notes as circles. You want to aim for the bullseye. The best way to do this and do it well is to record yourself and listen back. The first thing in determining whether you are singing on pitch is understanding whether you are singing sharp, on the sharp side, or the flat side of the note. I like to take it to the max first. Let’s sing at the center of pitch and then go outside of the pitch, so that you can hear that difference.
So, we’re going to go sharp first. I’m going to sing ah (sings ah while varying pitch). Doesn’t sound so good. But that is important to determine that that is a sharp note. Now here’s a flat note. Here’s the center. (sings ah) Sounds flat, okay? So you can’t have good pitch until your ear hears the center of pitch and whether you are singing sharp or singing flat. That’s the first thing. And I recommend going to the piano, playing a note, and trying to hit the pitch. And then go slightly sharp, and then come back to the center, and then go slightly flat. Kind of like tuning a guitar string, how we would bring it in to the pitch.
The next thing with pitch is using the piano or using an instrument as a guide, which is really helpful. And the third thing is to sing a cappella a lot. But here’s the thing with that, if you’re going to sing A cappella, I’d like you to find what key the song is in and use an iPhone app or something, a piano app, to actually hit the note first for you, so that you are in the right key, if you are going to sing A cappella. And that’s a trick for singing a cappella songs in general. If you are going to go for an audition, you want to make sure that you don’t come in on the wrong note or in the wrong key, and then all of a sudden you are singing way higher than you need to. You want to be in the right key.
Okay, back to pitch. We’re going to sing center of pitch. What a lot of you are going to do, you’re going to slide into that note. You’re going to ah-uh-ah (sings at varying pitch). What I want you to imagine is, you’re going to aim right for the center of the bullseye. (Sings ah). And you want to imagine coming to it from above. Why is because the actually soft palette, which is inside the mouth, needs to lift for you to be able to hit center of pitch. That gets a little bit technical, but you can start taking lessons with a vocal coach to experience that more, because it’s really exciting when you start to make those changes and be more accurate with your pitch.
So we’re just going to do a little scale, singing on ahh. (Sings five notes and then plays the five notes on the piano.) And now, pretty good so far, now we’re going to go to a five-note scale. The challenge here is in the major scale. There is a whole note, whole note, half note, whole note series. The relationship between all those notes is not exactly the same, which is where most people tend to go off-pitch. And this is a little bit more advanced but I wanted to give it to you because I think it would be interesting for you to learn.