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No matter how experienced you are as a singer, it’s highly frustrating when you’re trying to hit the perfect notes and deliver a flawless performance and end up singing flat.
Falling just one semitone below the desired note is a common problem that can leave a performance sounding weak and unpleasant.
But fear not! With the right vocal exercises and techniques, you can always train yourself to hit the perfect note every single time.
In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explain the reasons behind singing off-pitch and how you can deliver a Grammy-nominated performance leaving everyone speechless and wanting more! So let’s get started!
What Does It Mean To Sing Flat?
When a vocalist sings flat, that means that their pitch falls one semitone below the intended note. Lack of ear training and vocal warm-ups, as well as poor breath support and vocal technique, are only a few of the many possible causes that could lead to a poor performance.
Singing flat is a common problem that can affect even the best singers today. What we mean when we say a performer is singing flat is that they’re singing one semitone (or half step) below the right note. But what does that mean exactly?
In other words, if a singer is meant to hit an A, they hit a G# instead. If they’re supposed to sing a D, they hit a C# instead, etc. This fluctuation in pitch can make the song sound unbalanced and unpleasant and will make it hard for the singer to harmonize with other performers.
This can happen for a number of reasons, including a lack of voice control and breath support, a lack of proper training, and poor posture.
One of the most common causes of flat singing is a lack of vocal control. Controlling the duration, volume, and timbre of each note is equally as important as hitting the perfect notes when singing.
You want to be able to hold the perfect note for a period of time while keeping a steady and constant flow without getting tired AND going off-pitch. It will be very challenging for a singer to sing in tune if they lack the voice control and power needed to do that.
Poor breath support is another contributor to a flat vocal tone. When a vocalist has good breath support, their voice is better able to project because they have more air to work with, and a continuous air flow is necessary for singing in tune. So the ability to control one’s pitch and deliver accurate notes when singing highly depends on having great breath support.
A lack of ear training can also lead to flat singing and make the singer struggle to hit the right notes. To train one’s ear is to teach one’s brain to detect and accurately reproduce notes.
And in order to sing in tune, it is necessary to have the ability to hear those subtle changes in pitch. This is why singers who have invested time in ear training are better able to identify and reproduce the right notes.
Exercises to Prevent Singing Flat
There are many exercises and techniques that can help prevent singing flat and help improve your pitch accuracy. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective vocal exercises you can do right now to improve your singing skills.
One of the easiest and most efficient methods for training your ear is to sing along with a piano. It’s as simple as playing a note and trying to match it with your voice.
You can also try listening to the melody of a song several times and try to identify the notes by playing it back on the piano and reproducing it with your voice.
Another great ear-training exercise is to listen to and sing along with common chord progressions.
A fun and simple exercise to do is singing using a tuner. Grab a tuner and sing a specific note (like a G or an A) and try to see if the tuner matches your desired note.
If you find yourself singing off-pitch, keep making the necessary adjustments to your pitch until the intended note and the note displayed on the tuner match.
All these exercises are guaranteed to develop your pitch accuracy.
Performing breathing exercises can help you develop better vocal technique, which can help you hit your notes more accurately.
Learning to breathe with your diaphragm is one of the most crucial breathing exercises.
In order to practice diaphragmatic breathing, choose a vowel like A or O to sing, stand up straight with your head and shoulders relaxed, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, and take a few long, deep breaths through your nose, allowing the diaphragm to expand while your chest stays relatively motionless. Then, exhale slowly and smoothly, keeping your abdominal muscles tight and engaged.
This exercise helps improve breath control, lung capacity, and support, which can help you sing on pitch more easily.
Another effective breathing exercise is to inhale deeply, then slowly exhale while counting to 10. Do this exercise several times, increasing the duration of the exhalation each time.
Poor articulation has been associated with tension in the neck and jaw and restricted airflow leading to pitch issues. To fix this and improve your vocal technique and pronunciation, you can perform a simple and fun exercise called “tongue twisters.”
Tongue twisters are sentences with many words that are hard to say and sound similar when read together. For example, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
Trying saying that a few times! Or “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Practice these tongue twisters slowly at first, then pick up the pace when you feel more comfortable.
There are many benefits to doing vocal warmup exercises before a performance, including improving your pitch accuracy. You can perform exercises such as lip trills, tongue trills, singing scales, humming, and sirens.
To perform lip trills, just hum while you blow air through your lips. Take a deep breath and release it while blowing a steady stream of air through your mouth and nose.
This not only helps you warm up your vocal cords, but it also relaxes the muscles in your lips and cheeks.
To perform tongue trills, keep your lips relaxed and your mouth slightly open. Take a deep breath and then let it out slowly while generating a “brrr” sound with the tip of your tongue, much like the way the wind causes a flag to flutter. Ease into it first, then gradually work your way up to full speed. Do it for 15-20 seconds.
Now when it comes to singing scales, all you need to do is pick a pitch and a scale. Select any scale of your choice, like the B major scale, and find the lowest note you can sing in that scale.
Start at the lowest note and work your way up to the highest note before descending back down to your lowest note.
Focusing on breath support will help you sing with a clear tone, and relaxing your lips and neck will help you prevent vocal strain so you’re able to sing with perfect intonation and pitch accuracy.
If practicing your scales becomes too easy, try increasing the difficulty by boosting the tempo or loudness of your singing.
Humming is a form of vocal exercise in which a sound is made by vibrating the vocal cords with the mouth closed. Humming is as easy as gently closing your lips, taking a deep breath, and releasing it slowly through your nose while maintaining a continuous hum. If you hum at a low enough tone, the vibrations will be felt in your throat and chest. From there, you may hum along with the scale as you ascend or descend.
Humming exercises can be used with lip trills and other vocal warm-ups to help you reach your full vocal potential.
Humming exercises are simple to perform on a daily basis, and they offer several advantages, including preparing and warming up the voice for singing or speaking, helping with pitch accuracy, reducing vocal stress, and improving vocal technique.
Recording and Feedback
Taking the time to record your own sessions and keeping track of your progress can help you check out the areas in which you may be sounding flat. Listening to the recording after you’re finished can help you pinpoint specific spots in the song where your singing skills and pitch accuracy need improvement. Once you’ve figured out the note you’re failing to reach, just continue to work on it until you hit it perfectly.
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While it’s true that singing flat might be frustrating and a bit discouraging at times, anyone can learn to sing better and on-pitch with some practice, patience, and the proper vocal techniques and exercises.
We highlighted some of the best methods today that will help improve your pitch accuracy and help you deliver flawless performance.
From doing breathing exercises to training your ear to do lip and tongue trills, these exercises are guaranteed to improve your breath control, strengthen your vocal muscles and be in control of your own voice.
Give it some time, and with consistent practice and effort, and you will definitely see improvement in your voice and pitch accuracy.
Remember that every great artist has suffered (and still suffers) from singing flat during a performance, so try not to be hard on yourself. Making a mistake every now and then is completely normal. Just stay positive and focus only on your love for music!