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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

With pitch accuracy, there are levels to this! Perfect pitch being the best and tone deaf being worse. Most people lie in the middle. So let’s break that down.

Perfect pitch is actually pretty rare. Perfect pitch is when a singer can sing and identify a pitch exactly without any other musical context clues to determine the note you’re hearing. An example of this would be Charlie Puth…here’s a video of him doing that.

It takes years of ear training to get that good. If you’ve been fully immersed in music since childhood it it’s much more likely that you will develop an ear that accurate. I myself, have been consistently a note away from the perfect pitch. I noticed this a couple years ago…so — now, when I hear a pitch a will go two half steps higher than my gut instinct and I’m typically correct. It seems I am on the road to perfect pitch. Not quite there yet, but getting there.

But myself and many other ear trained vocalists have what is called relative pitch.

Relative Pitch is when you use musical context clues to determine the note. A musician with relative pitch will have a strong understanding of intervals.

Then…there is a basic level of pitch matching, which is at the core of singing in tune. Pitch matching is simply repeating the note you hear. However, for many singers, pitch matching may be difficult to get right every time.

If you struggle to sing in-tune…these 5 things will help.

1. Determine if you’re tone deaf.

Listen, I know everyone who struggles with pitches will attribute it to being ‘tone deaf’. It’s a term that gets thrown around loosely. But did you know tone deafness is a real condition?

Tone deafness is called Amusia which is the inability to recognize musical tones or to reproduce them.

Amusia can be congenital (present at birth) or be acquired sometime later in life (as from brain damage). It affects only 3–4% of the population. So, chances are — you’re probably not actually tone deaf.

Play the pitch identifying game below to test your pitch recognition!

2. Match Random Notes

Another way you can improve your pitch accuracy is by practicing your pitch matching. It helps to start with random notes. Sing mmmahh so that you can work on getting the pitch right before opening your mouth to the ahh sound. Over time you will slide to the pitch a lot less and sing the pitch correctly on first try!

You can play random notes with a piano or use a digital pitch pipe app on your phone, like Pocket Pitch.

3. Practice Singing Scales

Singing scales will not only improve pitch accuracy, but it will improve your overall musicality and aide you in predicting musical patterns. Familiarizing yourself with major, minor, and pentatonic scales will greatly improve your ear and pitch accuracy.

4. Learn Solfeggi

Solfeggi is a musical system that gives names and hand gestures to notes in a scale. A scale is comprised of 8 notes in any key, they are assigned Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do.

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Learning Solfeggi helps you visualize notes and familiarize yourself even further with pitches. It’s also very helpful with learning the distance and sound of intervals as well as transposing (singing in different keys)when you use a ‘movable Do’.

5. Practice Singing With a Tuner

When singing random pitches, scales, and solfeggi — it helps to improve your pitch even more when you sing with a pitch tuner. A tuner will tell you how far or close you are to a note. You can use a digital tuner, like OnPitch. Singing too low means you are flat and singing too high in pitch means you are sharp.

Be patient with the process…

It takes time to get it down. It also helps to record yourself so you can hear your own progress over time. Sing the same exercises and the same songs and listen to the improvement of your pitch accuracy.

Try your best not to get too consumed with singing the pitches perfectly all of the time. Most of the time, nobody else is as hard on you as you are! Just take baby steps and stay committed to practicing as often as you can and do your best.

Happy singing!

Kristal Cherelle, Indie Artist School

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