Pitch Problems???? - Breathe!
By Beth Lawrence - 11/07/2011 - 06:58 PM EST
One of the most common challenges singers have is staying on
pitch. Usually, singers come to me with the complaint that they are
flat, or under the pitch. Many singers also claim that they are 'tone
deaf' and can't hit their notes accurately. For most, this is a chronic
problem which keeps them from feeling confident in their voice. When
you don't feel confident, you don't sing; or if you do sing, you do it
very quietly and with negative self-esteem. Where's the fun in
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So let's take a look at a simple solution. Yes, I said a simple solution. With my Lawrence Vocal System,
the operative word is easy. I want singing to be easy and effortless
so that it's a joyful, rather than a fearful experience. In my book From Shower To Stage....7 Easy Steps for Singing Like A Pro!
my first Easy Step is......Breath. Very simply put, in order to stay
on pitch, you have to have a strong vital energy. This is the function
of breathing in fully so that you oxygenate your brain and body,
allowing you to sing with a positive energy flow. If you don't have
enough natural vitality you won't have the energy to stay on pitch or
sustain a tone.
I want to draw a distinction between breath, and breath support. In
order to support your tone so that you are in full control of your pitch
it's important to start with the concept of breath as energy. When you
take an in-breath, imagine pure energy entering your body. You can
even visualize it as a golden light filling your belly, lungs, flowing
up into the brain, and enlivening every part of your body! Once you can
practice this so that you really feel the energy coming in on each
breath, you're ready to move on to my 2nd Easy Step - conscious breathing which creates your breath support.
If you are supporting your tone with a relaxed but engaged belly breath -
a breath that seems to fill your whole body, this will create a firm
'platform' on which your tone rests. When a singer is under pitch, it
is almost always simply because they aren't engaging enough vital breath
energy that then becomes firm breath support for the voice. Try it
yourself - let all your breath out, then try to hit a strong, high
note. You can't do it! There's no energy and no support! Now take in a
low, belly breath that fills and engages your whole diaphragm area.
Your diaphragm should be firm but not tight or tense. Now sing your
strong, high note and hear and feel the difference!
When you are not supporting correctly, you may also encounter the need
to push harder to get more sound out. This puts too much compression on
the vocal cords, and can also be the cause for going flat or sharp!
You breath is your powerhouse; never try to get power from the throat.
It has been my experience that clients who claim to be hopelessly tone
deaf can immediately hit notes on pitch by just incorporating energy and
support into their singing process! Unless you have a physiological
problem with your inner ear that doesn't allow you to really hear or
feel your tone, then chances are very good that you are failing to
breathe and support with enough energy to hit your notes! Yes, it seems
so simple, and it is!
How fantastic it is that people who have been afraid to sing all their
lives because they couldn't stay on pitch, can clear up not only that
vocal challenge, but also get rid of the false belief that has held them
back for so long! It takes energy to sing, and that energy comes from
breath. Once you have filled yourself with breath energy, you can
engage your support mechanism to give the voice a strong base to operate
from without stress or strain. Your breath is your engine....never
So if you think that you have a pitch problem, begin by being courageous
enough to take a full, deep breath; engage the diaphragm, and allow
that beautiful energy to flow out of your mouth as a clear, strong,
on-pitch melody! Don't be afraid of the notes...fear will stop you in
your tracks, or cause you to hold back without having strong support.
And what that causes is a voice that will be off pitch due to a lack of
support! So in conclusion, know that there is a simple solution to a
'pitchy' voice. The secret is breathe; support; and sing with the
confidence of knowing that you can change and improve your voice with
just a few simple skills!
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