If you missed the previous articles check out Part 1 and Part 2
THE TOP 3 REASONS SINGERS MISS THE NOTE…
Now that we have talked about the Physical
reasons people sing off pitch, I’m going to get to the most common reasons – the MENTAL ones.
I mentioned in Part 1 that if you think it’s simply the fact that you’re not supporting your airflow correctly, or your ear is “bad”, you may only be partially correct, and that physical issues are the least common reason for being “pitchy.”
I also mentioned in Part 2
that your relationship to your voice has a direct impact on how you perform. For example, if you do not trust your voice, and you are afraid to hit a bad note, there is a pretty good chance you will. This is hard for some people to understand, but if you are one of these people and you continue to miss the note and feel like once you hit it, then it will be easier to trust it, consider the fact that if you trust it first
and stay aligned, it will be easier for you to hit it. Let go of being right and tap into that part of you that knows.
I hope it’s obvious by now that I’ve gone backwards in explaining why people have pitch issues for a very important reason. If I started with the MIND issues [which are the most common and least understood] I likely would have lost a lot of people.
However, the physical reasons I listed are usually only true by themselves, if a person already has good mental and emotional alignment, and they simply have this one little physical issue left to fix.
Let’s take a look at the top THREE Reasons why people sing off key.
Reason #3 - Trying to control your voice, thus taking you out of the present moment.
People contact me often and tell me they want to have more control over their voice. I talk more about why this is a dangerous notion in my book, “Finding Your CORE Voice,” but for now, we’ll just say that idea is not going to help you sing better in the long run. It might help you feel like you’re running the shots at first, but eventually, you will feel overwhelmed, like you have to do too much, leading you on the path to becoming a mechanical singer – and yes, sadly, most mechanical singers lack emotion and have the most pitch issues. So, you might be wondering, “Then…how do I control my pitch issues?”
The answer is really quite simple. You don’t. That’s a trap – and it’s WAAAAAY to much work! Trying to “control” your voice is like trying to blink a certain number of times in a minute. It will drive you crazy if you don’t just get in a space to allow it to happen naturally.
Instead, how about putting your Musical Intelligence in charge, and gaining a natural COMMAND over your voice
? Again, this has to do with what your attitude
is while you practice. Many call doing it successfully, being in “the zone.” Being in “the zone” is about being present. If you are trying to control, you are never present. You are usually worried about what is about to happen, or what just happened. Not only will your pitch be affected, but rhythm issues and shakiness amongst many other issues can also result. It’s an illusion to control, but the beauty of it is, when you trust yourself enough to let go and allow yourself to get in that zone, your CORE Voice
will naturally emerge. From there, it’s so much easier to mold it and shape it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to allowed to be what it is.
Reason #2 - Not knowing the song as well as you thought.
This reason for being off pitch is more common than most people would imagine. I’m not just advising you to learn the notes of the song, I’m saying you need to KNOW it. That means you need to memorize it so well, you’d be able to sing it in your sleep! It means you could listen back to the instrumental track and know exactly where you are in the song at any given moment. When you sing something over and over again, you get the muscle memory of that song imprinted not only in your voice, but in your MIND!
Oftentimes, singers think they know a song because they listened to the singer sing it over and over again. This alone doesn’t work for most people if they want solid memorization. Listening to a singer and being able to sing it without their voice underneath yours is a whole different story. You not only need to memorize the words and melody, but you need to be able to recall every note in the song perfectly, as it was written.
10 Steps for learning and knowing a song:
- Print the lyrics
- Listen to it entirely several times and sing it along with the artist while looking at the lyrics
- Listen to the first verse and sing along with it while looking at the lyrics over and over until it is perfected.
- Sing the verse to an instrumental track without looking at the lyrics and record it on a device such as your phone
- Listen back on your phone to ensure it is correct
- Repeat several times any specific problem areas you are singing wrong. If it is one line, repeat this over and over until it is perfected. First use the lyrics, then do it without so your brain can have a mental image of the lyrics
- Repeat step 3-6 for rest of each song section [chorus, bridge, etc]
- Once you have memorized each section, start singing verse one and add verse two… and so on, until the whole song is memorized.
- Sing the entire song with an instrumental track and record.
- Listen to the recording and make necessary changes.
As you learn more songs, the process gets easier to memorize them because you build new neural pathways in your brain to support memorization. [At least, that’s my oversimplified way of explaining it.] You may need to literally sing a song 100 times or more to get it into your muscle memory at first.
Professionals are required to learn songs very quickly – sometimes in less than 24 hours depending on the job, so your ability to repeat and let your Musical Intelligence do it’s thing, is very important. That is why Part 1 and 2 of this article are so important, because they explain the “how” behind the “what” of singing.
Reason #1 - Listening to Yourself While You Sing
This might come as a surprise to many. Most people think they need to listen to themselves to monitor how they sound. However, nine times out of ten, the reason people sing the wrong note isn’t because they can’t hear themselves, it’s because they are listening to themselves! Be mindful that there is a huge difference between listening to yourself, and hearing yourself. Of course when you sing, you’re going to hear what you are doing, but a very large percentage of people who make an effort to listen intently to themselves when they sing, will go off pitch. This is for many reasons. The main reason is because they are not letting the voice align naturally to the correct vibration of the sound. Believe it or not, it’s actually harder to sing it wrong than it is to sing it right. Science has proven this–even with tuning forks. When we strike a tuning fork, another tuning fork of the same pitch will begin to vibrate with the first fork. This is because of sympathetic resonance. If a piece of steel naturally follows these universal laws, you had better bet, you are capable of this as well.
If you are trying to listen to yourself while you sing, you’ve got it all wrong. Imagine if while you were talking, you paid attention to the actual pitch [how high or how low] each note was that you spoke and analyzed your voice while you were talking. Do you think it would sound natural? Do you think it would drive you crazy? It sounds absurd when we relate it to speaking, but this is the silly game many people play with themselves for a number of reasons described previously in this article-mainly in Part 2, when they sing. Are you beginning to see how much your mind and soul influence the sound of your voice?
The good news is, if you can get your mind to be clear and present while you sing, you feel enough peace inside to have a free open voice, then with this sort of energy, you will be able to achieve just about anything vocally. Yes you will need to practice, yes, you will need to learn proper technique, etc, but what I’m sharing here is what so many people overlook – it’s the “how” under the “what” of singing. If it’s hard to understand, or you struggle with getting a mind that is clear, you can read my book, Breathe into Your Power, and also do my CORE Breathing Exercises which will give you the clarity and presence you need to stay on pitch!
In summary, hitting the right notes is mostly a MIND issue that can be improved through proper training, but as a singer, your first responsibility is to know yourself, develop a positive relationship with your voice by realizing you are not a victim of what it does, but that your voice is responsive to what you think and feel. Please tell me about your experiences with these suggestions via email or on our Facebook wall. Thank you.