Anybody can be taught to match pitch, almost instantly, in 5 simple steps. This entire process takes a maximum of 5 minutes. The more frequently these 5 steps are repeated, the more consistently a struggling singer will be able to match pitch.
Here’s what you will need:
- A piano/keyboard
- Your ability to vocally demonstrate
- The singer’s desire to want to match pitch
Here are the 5 Easy Steps to Get Anyone to Match Pitch:
Step 1 – Meet them where they’re at
Play a note that you believe should be in the mid-lower part of their vocal range. If they cannot sing the pitch you play, find the pitch they are singing. This should be simple: they are singing a note on the piano. Whatever note they are singing, you play it and have them repeat it a few times; as a result, you have matched their pitch. We can call this their “home” pitch.
Step 2 – Have them feel their support
Show the singer how to engage their solar plexus by having them place their hands (pressing their fingertips) just below their sternum and either coughing (not great during covid pandemic) or just saying “ha, ha, ha” in a short and forceful manner. They should feel their solar plexus pop out on each “ha”.
Step 3 – Build a staircase
Singers need to engage their solar plexus with a “ha” sound, the same way as Step 2, but this time, have them sing the repeated “ha” using the “do, re, mi, re, do” pitches. The beginning pitch should be their “home” pitch. From there, repeat the exercise by moving their “home” pitch up by half-steps. Every pitch must engage the solar plexus. When the singer can no longer match the piano’s pitch, try descending the exercise by half-steps; it is possible they may have lost the ability to match pitch. When this happens, return to their “home” pitch and repeat this step a second time; as a result, they will be repeating their home pitch, which will also help to lock in their pitch matching skill.
Step 4 – Bring Them Up High
Show the singer how to flip into their falsetto/head voice. The upper register creates flexibility in the lower range. For both male and female singers, it’s not about singing the correct falsetto/head voice pitches but more about attempting to create sound in that register. It’s possible during this 5-minute period, some singers may not successfully access this range; the important thing here is that the singer attempts to switch registers. If they successfully access the upper register, bring them down with “mi, re, do” and descend by half-steps. If they can’t produce any sound up high or cannot find their upper range, introduce a few sighs through call and response. Any real attempt for the singer to access this range can be considered a success.
After working in the falsetto/head voice, bring the singer back to their “home” pitch. The exploration in the upper range, regardless of it’s outcome, will likely have expanded their lower-mid range.
Step 5 – Return Home
Return to the singer’s “home” pitch and repeat Step 3 again. Continue to remind them to engage their solar plexus.
This approach will get a motivated singer on track IMMEDIATELY. Contrary to popular belief, matching pitch is not a black and white skill; there are varied skills needed to consistently matching pitch.
I developed a rubric that gives a step-by-step approach for getting all students who can’t match pitch all the way to the point where they can sing comfortably throughout their voice.
Before a student can learn to sight-sing or hold their part, they must have reached at least Level 4 on the pitch-matching rubric.
If you are looking for more in-depth understanding, I have created an online course to provide more in-depth understanding. My online course includes 12 on-demand videos, the pitch-matching rubric, and additional downloadable resources.
With that said, just repeating this blog post’s 5 step process frequently may be all that’s needed for most students to get on track. After just a few sessions, your singer will likely be able skip Step 1 and find the pitch of your choosing!