Do you have trouble singing by yourself “on key”?

Do you love to sing with the radio or CD, or at church with the congregation? Do you find singing is easy as long as there is someone to follow? However, do you lack the confidence and ability to sing on your own, such as solo in the choir or on your own at a karaoke bar?

If this is you, you are not alone. In fact, you are part of a large majority of people. Singing can be easy as long as you don’t have to do it alone. There are steps that can be taken to strengthen your ability to sing on pitch by yourself, while at the same time coordinating your overall singing voice with flexibility and balance. This in turn builds your confidence to go on and tackle a song all on your own.

This needs to be done with a vocal coach. It’s difficult to correct your own pitch without someone helping.

Ear training and repetition are the foundation for pitch matching. You need to start close to the pitch of your speaking voice. This is called your “home base”. This will be your reference point at which you can return to as you learn to match higher and lower pitches. Once you can sing back your home base pitch easily and consistently, then it’s time to move to short scales. Depending on your ability, you may start with 3 note or 5 note scales, ascending and descending. Every singer is different. Again, this should be done with a vocal coach.

Lessons should be recorded so you can revisit your “home base” daily for practise. This is necessary so the brain can remember and the vocal cords will learn and memorize the coordination needed to match pitch.

A male voice will probably match easily at F or G below middle C. That’s a good place to start. Your coach should know that as you sing higher it becomes more challenging because your voice has to shift gears to handle the passagio around E flat. Therefore, all training in the beginning should stay below this bridge. For female singers this first passagio is around G or A flat above middle C.

Along with repetition of short scales starting in the home base area, your coach should be doing some ear training exercises where you need to listen and say whether a note is higher or lower than the one played.

With perservence you can learn to sing on your own with good pitch. I have helped many dedicated adults who always wanted to sing, but never felt good enough to sing on their own. These exercises build their confidence as each day they are able to find home base quicker and easier than the week before. They are able to memorize the melodic exercises of steps and jumps which soon turn into songs.

What should a child’s first instrument be?

Well, that’s easy … the piano, correct? But, let’s think about it. Children are actually learning to use their first musical instrument when they start to coo and babble. They start using their voice as a baby when they mimic the sounds all around them. This is how they learn to talk, and this is how they learn to sing. Their vocal cords are their own personal instrument, with its own unique sound. This is the first instrument that they learn to use.

When babies and toddlers are encouraged to copy sounds frequently, they remember how to do it and soon it becomes “normal”. This all leads to singing on pitch.

Your children will get singing and musical education at school, but we all know that music curriculum in most schools has been decreasing over the years. The more musical engagement you can encourage at home, the better. Does it matter if you are on pitch? Well, in the beginning….NO. It matters that you are singing and that you are enjoying music with your child.

Let’s move ahead a bit to age 3 or 4. A good age to know if your child is able to match pitch. Can they imitate a fire siren? Can you? If so, this means you able to zip up your vocal cords to make high sounds. They most likely can, but in some cases where a child has a deep or raspy voice (from illness, hoarseness or cough) they may be reluctant or unable to. This is where it is important to keep the child exploring their voice….making sounds that are more than just talking.

Singing requires the vocal cords to “zip up” because we don’t sing in only the pitches that we talk. In order to match the higher pitches, our brain has to know how to zip up the vocal cords and keep them that way.

An important note to mention is that the music you and I sing to is much lower than music children should be singing to. It’s important for kids to listen to music in their range, so they can copy properly. This is one reason music is so very important in the school. It’s vital for children to experience singing with their peers in a musical key that suits their voice.

So, why not think of your child’s voice as their first musical instrument. Encourage them to match pitch when they sing. This will go a long way in their future musical journey. It really is a use it or lose it scenerio. Children who “can’t carry a tune” grow into adults who “can’t carry a tune”.

The Music for Young Children program including Music Pups is a great way to engage in singing and musical fun with your child. There are classes all over the world. You can find them here and

Do you have a comment? Please leave me your thoughts.