Even the best singers can sing out of tune sometimes. It happens to us all, and it is something that can be worked on and fixed – and no, I am not talking about auto tune!
The right amount of breath control is important to intonation. Too much air and you are going sharp. Not enough air and you’re going flat. A good exercise for getting your breath control balanced is lip trills. This can help with a consistent airflow and allow students to feel how much breath to use and not use on a long scale or section in a song.
As I previously stated in my vowel blog, vowels play a huge role in not only transitioning from chest to head voice more easily, but the slightest vowel movement could change your pitch and usually make you go “flat.” Understanding how to make correct adjustments to your vowels will make singing easier and fun.
There are many consonant sounds, some of which can compromise a perfectly pitched vowel, as when the consonants n, m, ng, l, and r are at the end of syllables and words, which can actually close off the space in your mouth and cause you to change pitch.
Phonation means the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through vibration; so pre-phonatory tuning is, literally translated, “before creating sound.” First, you have to hear the pitch internally. Second, you prepare the pitch physically; so breathe in, and prepare the correct vowel shape. To fully prepare for that one note you hear before singing is crucial to being able to hit it.
These are things I have learned about the pitch process, and it works every time with my students.