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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 that????!

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 your throat!

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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