OVERCOMING “EMOTIONAL” PITCH ISSUES
Click Here to Read Part 1
Click Here to Read Part 3
Now that we have discussed the physical reasons why people sing off pitch, I’d like to address something even more common. The EMOTIONAL ones. If you’ve read my book, “Finding Your CORE Voice“, or used my Practicing CORE Vocal Power CD. then you’re already aware that your whole instrument is your MIND, SOUL and BODY. If you want to progress as an artist, it’s important to look at your strengths and weaknesses with these three parts in mind – not just the physical.
Now we’re going to talk about the more common reasons why people sing off key, and what to do about it. This is where I get much deeper than the surface level. As I mentioned before, it’s easy to notice someone is off key – but if you can pinpoint WHY, you can change it forever, because you get to the CORE of the problem.
My Relationship to my Voice affects how I hit notes
I tell every singer that comes into my studio, “The relationship you have with your voice is directly related to your performance.” Sometimes they don’t really understand the depth of what I’m saying initially. Pitch issues are the perfect example to demonstrate this point. You will see how a person relates to themselves can either make or break their performance. There is a good chance you may relate to more than one of these–even all of them – but there might be one that you emotionally gravitate towards more than others. This is the one you want to start with, and get to the CORE of. Once you do that, you can correct the issue and you will notice, it has nothing to do with your vocal chords. Each of the following issues are rooted in one thing: FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). I decided to go a few layers deeper and discuss the kind of FEAR behind each issue. Now of course, if you experience all of these issues at once (which is completely possible), singing might be a terrifying experience for you. I encourage you to be patient with yourself and know that you are not alone. We all struggle with these issues – even if you don’t have pitch issues! Some people are better at hiding them than others–but would you rather hide them, or heal them?
Reason #7 – Feeling Helpless
If you feel helpless, there is a very good chance that you will be “pitchy.” Many people who like to sing fall into the mistake of feeling like they don’t know how to sing. Maybe they feel this way because they haven’t had any formal or professional training and this leads to them feeling unsure and helpless. This feeling may have also developed over time because someone may have told them that they couldn’t sing, didn’t sound good or they hit the wrong note. Oftentimes, it happened when they were young and still has left an emotional scar or vocal wound that needs to be healed.
If you connect or relate to what was mentioned above and feel helpless when you sing, you need to remember one thing…Knowing how to sing is a natural gift we all have. You were born knowing this. Yes – it’s true that some remember how with more coordination and power than others, but when you let go and just sing, you can indeed open the door to finding your CORE voice: that authentic voice inside you that just knows .
The kind of FEAR you are subscribing to most if you relate to this category, is the FEAR of being Judged.
To overcome this fear, you have to decide that you will still be ok – even if people judge you wrongly. I know – it’s a biggie, but you can do it! Do you want to be free, or do you want to let what others might do, control you? Clear your mind, relax your soul and Just sing! Still having a hard time? Click here for more support.
Reason #6 – Being afraid to “show up fully” in the notes of the song.
Ever heard someone sing before, and they seem to be doing well but then suddenly, the end of the phrase falls, or just sounds really off? The singer doesn’t show up. When I say “show up” I mean sing a note with your fullest potential in the present moment. That is required for the most part, if you want to be in tune, but can you think of reasons why someone wouldn’t want to?
These singers have decided to hold back because of the FEAR of commitment. Yes. I said it – commitment! You don’t really want to sing out fully because… what if you sound weak? So – as a defense mechanism, you sound weak. You give up before you start. Seems like an oxymoron, but you know what I’m talking about if you do this.
Maybe you showed up fully once and were criticized, so now you carry this little bit of trauma deeply imbedded in your psyche that shows up every now and then, just enough to make you think you are “weak” or “not powerful enough.” So because of your temperament, as a defense mechanism you sing through it, but at certain points, it just goes off key. Has NOTHING to do with your ear, and likely you do it much better when you’re alone – but even then, if you’re really feeling bad about the past criticism or looking weak, then yes, you’ll probably go off key alone as well. Overall, when you are deeply emotionally invested in the results, this creates more nerves, which show up as “pitchiness.”
So – how is this corrected? Take smaller risks first. Sing songs that are easier for you in front of others where you can feel safe showing up in each note, like the Beatles or something melodic. Don’t try to do a 12 point vocal run–it will backfire! Once you’ve learned the basics and can sing fully, then move to the harder stuff.
Pitch Correction Suggestions:
- Start with just singing notes and sustaining them to their fullest, or doing my CORE Resonating Program
- Memorize and sing one melody line to it’s fullest. (Example: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. How I wonder what you are.”)
- Sing the melody line to it’s fullest while looking into your eyes in the mirror. This will help you to feel more open and get over your walls when you’re singing
- Learn and sing a verse and chorus of a song while looking into your eyes in the mirror. Do not make embellishments, but practice being happy with how singing feels in the present moment. Don’t listen to yourself, but hear yourself. Record your voice so you can listen back to the reality of it.
- Now you can practice adding different stylistic choices to the song like dynamics, runs, trills, etc.
Reason #5 – Going into “Singing Mode”
Many singers seem to think that when they sing, they need to become something they are not. They feel they need to “pretend” to be the next American Idol, and exhort a huge amount of effort in the process. As a result, they “over-sing,” or over dramatize their performance, and this can result in going waaaaay SHARP! When people go into “singing mode” what they are really feeling on an emotional level is, “I have to try hard. I’m not good enough as is. I need to do something really big and important when I sing, so that people like me.”
The Fear for this group is FEAR of being really seen. (Am I getting too deep here?)
Pitch Correction Suggestions:
If you have this problem, how about subscribing to the following ideas?
- singing doesn’t have to be hard – it is EASY.
- I am enough as soon as I open my mouth
- singing is as natural as speaking
- it’s ok if people see who I really am.
Even if you can take one of these suggestions and work on it every day for a week, along with doing your physical exercises and warm ups, I guarantee you that you can correct this issue. But you have to have the courage to stop subscribing to the old wounds that brought you to this point. One last very good suggestion for this issue is to look at yourself in the mirror while you sing, while making eye-contact.
Reason #4 – Being afraid of actually hitting the wrong note
This cause is very similar to the prior one, only this time, the FEAR is actually “hitting the wrong note.” So now, the singer is preoccupied with the actual notes in the song, and obsessed with the idea that they are all going to be wrong.
It doesn’t matter how loud or soft or weak or strong their voice sounds – they just don’t want it to be wrong, so because of their temperament, they are unable to let go of this attachment. Of course, what we hold on to can hurt us – so they hit the wrong note! This goes along with the saying, “What we resist persists.”
This is an emotional need of wanting to look good, which is accompanied by a belief that hitting notes wrong is a huge deal that must be avoided or you will look like a complete idiot. It has nothing to do with how your vocal chords are working, or how amazing your ear is. If you have the best ear on the planet, but you have this emotional need to “look good” – or “to be perfect”, then there is a pretty good chance you’re going to have pitch issues. I will say that many people have these issues and still sing each note perfectly, but there is always an underlying dis-harmony and uneasiness when they sing, that sometimes audiences can’t peg. However, for the most part, these needs manifest as pitch issues in many people.
Pitch Correction Suggestions:
- I am brave enough to decide that the world will go on spinning- even if I do it wrong,
- I am OK No matter what!
Example of Emotional Pitch Issues: I taught a young lady once – we’ll call her Mary, who was unable to authentically speak her truth, (a 5th Chakra Issue). At the same time, she suffered from random pitch issues that were very unpredictable. Once she was able to come to terms with expressing how she really felt to others on a daily basis, her pitch miraculously became more accurate! As she cared less about what others thought, released her victim mentality and gained the courage to know she’d be okay–even if it wasn’t perfect, she could get through a whole song without having any pitch problems! Interestingly, Mary had been to several coaches and never made growth. After only two sessions with me and practicing some of the tools in this article, her whole life changed and her CORE Voice emerged! I will say that for most, it takes a little longer than two lessons. It just depends on you, and how easily you can embrace the courage to just be your FABULOUS SELF!
I know, I make it sound easy, but it can be if you let it. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to cooperate with yourself enough to work through any of these issues. Remember, your relationship to yourself is a key factor to having an empowered voice. Every day I see this issue and more often than less, I have found that pitch issues are related to unresolved psychological and emotional issues.
So, those are the four main emotional reasons why people sing off key. Do you experience any of these issues? Share your experience with us via email or on our Facebook wall. Thank you.