Reading My Way Around the World

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Tuning your voice ...

Singing Tips  - do you think you sing out of tune?

Singing is really therapeutic ...
So what's stopping you?
Have you been told that you sing out of tune?
Or that you're tone deaf?

Tuning problems may be quite easy to fix: 

Yeh right I hear some of you saying!  
It's the people who have to listen who'll have the problem ... 

It is not our normal state to sing out of tune 
One problem may simply be that you have  learned the notes incorrectly.  

Try This....

  • Go back and listen to the song you have the problem with.
  • Really listen - don't sing along with it.   
  • Just listen.   
  • Then repeat the problem phrase until you feel you've got closer to it.  
  • Now ... tape yourself ... on your phone or whatever you have handy.... is it a bit closer?

This is important : Women and men usually sing in different keys, so it is vital that you listen to someone in the same key as you  - so if you're a woman, make sure you listen to a woman singing the song; and if you're a man listen to another man singing it.   

If you're still unsure, ask a friend that you trust to listen to you singing the phrase... and just keep singing for yourself, or join a choir and get that muscle working ... You'll be amazed at how your confidence will grow and how much better you'll feel. 

Has that fixed your problem?

Other possible reasons for singing out of tune:
Over projecting - trying to hit the back wall of the hall with your voice .... do you still have your old school teacher in your head telling you to sing out?   If you change your focus of where you're singing to .... say, aim for the front row of the imaginary audience ... you'll find that you'll stop singing sharp.

Coffee -  too much coffee before you sing will make you jumpy and behave overly nervous and out of breath ... this again can make you sing sharp if you're not aware.

and the converse
Worrying about what your voice will sound like can stop you projecting at all and make you sing flat.

Let me know how you get on....


  1. That's interesting Fil. My husband was top boy chorister in England as a young man although his voice shattered when it changed. The first time he heard me sing, he said I was dreadful and I haven't sung since I don't think.

    1. Oh that's terrible Jo - you need to sing - if only for yourself. Everyone can sing - perhaps not like Barbara Streisand or Ella or Dolly or whomever you think of as a brilliant singer, but you can sing like you. I believe it's something we need to do for our mental health and well being. I run a choir here for singers who say they can't sing and there are many choirs now around the place that even use that in their name - a choir for singers who can't sing! And they make wonderful music.

  2. As a child I was told I couldn't sing. I was excluded from a singing group once and it hurt. I have since believed this. I do sing in my car, preferably to Willie Nelson's City of New Orleans and some of his other songs. But I still can't sing , something I am sad about. It must be a great joy to be able to.

    1. Inger, it's great that you do use your voice in the car ….and the City of New Orleans is a great song for singing along to :)
      See what I"ve just written to Jo in the comment above. Every week I get a singer coming along who was told this and all their lives wanted to sing. And all of them have perfectly fine voices. Many times in our schools, the teachers themselves have little or no training and didn't, and often still don't, know how to encourage and have patience until young people's hearing develops - we don't all have the instant ability to hear notes, but it does eventually come. However, if you're told you can't do something that belief will override any and all natural development. Fil

  3. I love the tips you offer, Fil. As you know, I love singing at school with the children and some of them can be a little bit out of tune and some of that is to do with singing too loud but I would never tell anyone they couldn't sing - singing is about being joyful not about being 100% in tune I think.

    1. Thank you :) I totally agree with you - there's so much snobbery about good and bad voices but you're totally right, it's about joy and not about perfection.

  4. I love singing. I apparently have a beautiful voice and I have a four octave range(or did), I trained with some spectacular teachers - but no one wants to listen to me. They turn on a radio or put on a CD or ask me not to. When I ask why and say they hurt my feelings, they look puzzled and say things like 'oh I heard you and it made me want to listen to music'. So I guess I must be like elevator music to listen to. Background noise that reminds people of real music :( Shrug. Wish I had those other problems and I could fix them.

    1. Oh Cecilia I feel your pain … that happens to me too - or worse, people sing along lol Could you join up with a choir or get out performing to help get your beautiful voice heard? And your name is so perfect for a singer too - Cecilia the patron saint of musicians. Fil

  5. I like to sing, am not good at it, miss hearing my daughter sing who has a lovely voice. She's been in choirs for years, does solo work for weddings etc. But, I never knew all those positive points about it. Very cool.

  6. Yeah, my voice can be out of tune at times. I've had people tell me that I got a decent singing voice, but the most I've done with it is the occasional warbling inside my work cube. I will say that my voice works well with country music (not the current garbage that's out there, but the old timey stuff).

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