never in key

never in key

never in key    16:52 on Friday, November 30, 2007          

(426 points)
Posted by MusicRawks

I'm not a vocalist, but I want to learn to sing.
Not to get very good or anything, but just so I can sing and people's ears don't blead. I'm always flat... very VERY flat and rarely ever sharp. I'm never within 20 cents of a note, I'm always like almost a whole half step off.
Help and ANY suggestions or hints!

Re: never in key    19:04 on Saturday, December 01, 2007          

(426 points)
Posted by MusicRawks



i'm a pirate becuase real pirates can't sing.

Re: never in key    14:47 on Friday, December 14, 2007          

(426 points)
Posted by MusicRawks

I REALLY need some help!
Christmas is approaching... how can I go caroling?!?!?

Re: never in key    20:40 on Monday, December 17, 2007          

(13 points)
Posted by breannesky

Heyy, do you have any samples of you singing? I'll be able to help if I hear something.

Re: never in key    17:09 on Wednesday, December 19, 2007          

(426 points)
Posted by MusicRawks

I'm sorry I don't.
Do you have any form of advice to become a better singer?

Re: never in key    18:51 on Thursday, December 20, 2007          

(1 point)
Posted by jojobobo

Alright, I'm no expert, but I do think I can sing without ears bleeding. I offer this advice because I'm bad at singing, and make these corrections so as to not be awful. I'll never be great, but with some work, I've even developed a falsetto passable enough for gag songs. Here's some basic stuff I've found to help with singing:

Make sure your sinuses are clear. Take some decongestants if you need to, and when you blow your nose blow it gently, or you'll ram more mucus into your estachian tubes, which will make things sound more underwater than they really are (so you hear things as flatter, thereby singing flatter). Clean out your ears with some warm oil to soften the wax. People just sound worse from winter through spring, and I honestly think this is why. Forced air heating, allergies, it adds up. Avoid dairy, which increases mucus production. I use a neti pot to clean my sinuses. Drain your eustachian tubes by pulling your earlobe back and around in a circle until you feel the "click" or the "squoosh" sound that means they've drained. You have to pull fairly hard, and it helps to open your jaw a bit.

Second, stretch. Stretch your neck, platysma (muscle at the front of your throat), chest especially, stomach, everything. Yoga is great for this, there are a number of poses that are practiced especially for voice. Breath control is muscle control, and just like sprinters stretch their quads before they run, so you should stretch every muscle you need to control your breath. Before you sing, do some breathing exercises to enhance your lung capacity.

Exercises are another great bit... tongue twisters and standard voice exercises (scales, arpeggiations) are simple enough that you aren't that self-conscious doing them in private, so you can work through kinks you find in your technique. Be aware you have two pairs of vocal chords, and most peoples voices fail and crack in the transitions between these two sets, though their speaking range may encompass using both sets flawlessly. Singing is getting muscle control over both pairs' whole dynamic ranges.

So, that's the mechanic stuff pretty much anyone who teaches voice will tell you. Your specific problem is that you're a half to whole step flat, which leads me to believe your either having mechanical or psychological problems "hearing" that flatness and correcting it while singing. Having addressed the mechanical a little, let's consider the latter. Obviously, be aware of your vocal range and where you feel comfortable, don't stray out of that when you're preforming. If you are consistently trying to match a pitch you can't reach, try singing a third or fifth lower (or even higher). So just harmonize around it if you have to.

From there, if you're having trouble "hearing" it from a mental perspective, you may be listening to yourself too much. That self-consciousness can doom you in music, because you know you're out of step with the group, and keep thinking about how out you are doesn't help you get in step. Doesn't matter if it's a guitar and drums or a vocal ensemble. Sing with less volume and listen to the rest of the group, and try to match that.

Here's an experiment in music: Get any two instruments, or one stringed instrument, and tune them with a tuner, then put them slightly out of tune. Just a bit. String instruments are great for this because you can just press on the string behind the brige to bring a string sharp in relation to the other strings, but any two instruments that can be tuned to the same note and then put out of tune will work. Listen for that "wahwahwahwah" vibration, that's it being out of tune. The close you are to in tune, the farther apart the wahwahs get. The farther out of tune, the faster and nastier the wahwahs. People miss this in voice when they just jump in, but that's why people harmonize to the root note of the key of the song before singing that song. Barbershop and a number of styles are completely dependent on flawless harmonization, so they do it religiously. The wahwahs also disappear on the third and fifths of the root note of the key of that song, so those are safe to sing to as well (for most songs).

If you can hear that syncopation of wahwahs in your voice in relation to others, you can learn to correct it. If you can't hear that in a group, and/or are somewhat tone deaf, ask for the root note before you sing. Or bring a pitch pipe yourself for that purpose. Match it with a hum in your head, and then blindly press onward, hoping you remain in tune with the others. A lot of people aren't, but are close enough to be forgiven. It's the holidays, after all.

Re: never in key    23:45 on Monday, January 28, 2008          

(15 points)
Posted by davide144

If you have access to a piano or any instrument you can practice pitch matching. Play a note, find something in your most comfortable range, then try to match it. Keep changing your pitch until you can sing the note exactly in tune. Then try a different note. Keep practicing this and it will become easier to sing the note right the first time.

Re: never in key    14:52 on Tuesday, January 29, 2008          

(426 points)
Posted by MusicRawks

Hey! Thanks!
Thats a good idea!
Any other suggestions?

Re: never in key    17:49 on Monday, February 04, 2008          

(820 points)
Posted by DanTheMaster

Try singing along to a trained vocalist, except turn the volume of the player down, so you can hear yourself. This is good practice on matching pitch.

Re: never in key    12:59 on Thursday, February 07, 2008          

(4 points)
Posted by dumdumsareyum

I definitely agree if you have a keyboard and an instrument you can play and sing at the same time, practice matching notes. Also, singing arpeggios (go slowly and make sure you are matching each pitch) will help you practice some common musical intervals. Once you get good at this, try playing major chord and sing each note of the chord, see if you can tell which pitch is the root. Once you get good at that, try playing two of the three notes and then singing the third note yourself. when you think you have the right note, check it to make sure you're not out of tune. A free sight singing book online at has a lot of easy tunes you can do re me to. try singing the notes but only play the piano after you have already started your note to see if you undershot it or overshot it. once you get pretty good at that you can just check like every 3rd or 4th note to make sure you are not getting out of tune as you go.

I've been doing these kind of "warm ups" for a couple of months now and my voice teacher commented at my last lesson about how much my ability to correct my out-of-tuneness has improved (i am able to adjust my note much more quickly if i come in off), so i hope it works for you too.

Also, make sure you have good vocal support and are breathing from your diaphragm....I have been told I have much better pitch when singing correctly as well

Re: never in key    13:33 on Thursday, February 07, 2008          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

My brother sings a major second down.
If he tries to pitch match, he will sing a major second down, consistently. Even if I play along with him or sing with him he is a major second down.

He and others thought he was tone deaf, but he is not. He is consistently the same degree off. So, I have tried to get him to try and sing a major second above what he hears others doing and it seems to work okay. Not great but better than he was.

Re: never in key    10:22 on Sunday, March 16, 2008          

(2369 points)
Posted by jose_luis

That's strange, but if you found a way, it's OK.

Re: never in key    21:04 on Thursday, April 10, 2008          

(4 points)
Posted by buttercup11

support the notes with your diaphragm. if you take in a breath and you chest/shoulders move up then you are breathing wrong. practice matching notes with a guitar or some other instrument and you will improve. You can learn to not be tone deaf, just keep at it and you will get better. Also get a vocal coach and you will be amazed with the progress you will make.


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