Singing on Pitch

Are you sometimes just a little out of tune?  Do you feel like you’re just a little ‘flat’?

Could be your cheeks have something to do with it.  Watch this short video (under 2 minutes!) for some tips, or read on for more depth!

Singing on Pitch is a combination of listening, focus, and face.  Obviously, you need to be listening to the accompaniment or the singers around you to be in tune with them. It’s the first step I take my clients through if they are having trouble singing in the same key as the music around them. For more information on that topic, read this article or see this tip (coming soon).

The second element of improving your intonation is your mental focus. If you mind is wandering, your pitch might wander.  Clear your mind of distractions, and if something comes in, gently send it on its way in a bubble.  Stay focused on the task at hand.

The most important and quick fix to intonation is in your face.  Your face is the location of two important ‘resonators’ for the voice.  The primary resonator is your mouth- it shapes the sound like

English Horn and Oboe

Note the different bell shapes

the bell of a horn. Think of the difference in the sound between an oboe and an English horn, for instance.  The secondary resonators in your face are your sinuses. If your pitch is a little flat, chances are so are your cheeks – and your cheeks are right there, on top of your sinuses.  For your sinuses to resonate freely, you have to lift the cheek muscles and tissue up slightly.

Technically, it’s the overtone series that your body creates that indicates whether you sound ‘on pitch’ or not. If your cheeks are flat, chances are your tone is flat, too.

There’s one other bonus to always singing with a slight ‘smile’.  You don’t look like a zombie. It’s a little creepy, like watching the early attempts at digital animation of real people…  Remember “Polar Express” and how the kids faces look flat?  If your face is engaged, your audience will be engaged.  So remember what Annie says, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!” And keep your intonation spot on!!

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Keen and Wail

Music has been part of humanity for decades. For centuries. For millennia. The voice is our power, it is the mirror of the power of creation. “In the beginning was the word.”  Begun from thought, it is what causes creation. If you stay silent, your thought can not manifest.

In times like these, with a major city breathing a sign of relief after an insane attack on a beloved event, we need to use our voices. Our voices can heal us. We must use them.

“But I don’t feel like singing!” I have heard many of my clients protest.

What if you let yourself sing exactly what you feel? No words, no “notes”. Just sound.  UGH. Aaah. Moan. Wail. Keen. In old times, women would gather and keen together after the death of a loved one. What has happened to that beautiful coming together?  We have been silenced. Our physical expression of grief relegated to mere words and ‘talk therapy’ which does little to help.

If you feel helpless, make sound. Sound is a great release of energy that has no where to go, and it usually doesn’t hurt anyone. Go in the bathroom, turn up the music, turn on the shower, and moan, keen, wail. Get that emotional energy out of your body safely with sound.  Maybe even gather some friends to have a wail in!

When I was separated from my husband, I was in deep grief. I also had the benefit, if you will, of conducting a choir.  I chose the Hashivenu, a haunting, wistful Jewish song remembering how times used to be.  The one time we invited a member of our sister Jewish community to come, we are singing this song.  She asked me why I would choose such a song of grief. I had the outlet available to me of a full choir of 16 voices to sing my grief at losing the dream that my life had been.  And it helped me to move forward.

Sing the sad songs. Sing until the tears stream down your face. And then you will be washed clean, and that wave of grief released.   You will feel better, I promise. And you will not be holding on to the fear, the grief, the sorrow. That will make you free.

Blessings and Love,

Jaie Arianna Livingstone