How to Sing in Tune
Singing in tune may not come naturally to everyone, but with enough practice, most people can eventually learn how to do it. Begin by tuning your voice to individual notes, then gradually work your way into singing actual songs.
Part 1Tune Your Voice
1Everyone has a different vocal range, and each person has an even narrower “comfort zone” within that range. Identifying notes within your zone will make it easier to tune your voice since your voice will be easier to control within that zone. To identify your vocal comfort zone without assistance, start by singing a simple “ah” at speaking tone. Listen to the note until you have the sound memorized—or record it, if necessary. Identify that note by singing it into a digital tuner or by comparing it to the notes played on a pitch pipe. Starting at your speaking tone note, try singing through the musical scale (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do). If your voice strains or you fall out of tune while singing the scale, determine where it happens. Starting at your speaking tone note, sing through the same musical scale backwards. Determine where your voice strains or where you fall out of tune. The pitch you sing in and the notes you sing without strain make up your vocal comfort zone.
2Instead of jumping directly into an actual song, work on matching individual notes and pitches. The easiest note for most people will be their speaking tone note, so that's usually a good place to start. You'll eventually progress throughout all notes within your comfort zone, though. Go through this entire practice without any noisy, external distractions. You need to focus and hear clearly throughout the entire process, and doing so will be much easier if your surrounding environment remains quiet.
3Listen to the note out loud, repeating it as often as needed until you can hold it in your mind. Once you feel familiar with the note, replay it in your mind. Better yet, play a note and sing along with it. Don't play the note too loud though, since you need to hear it and your voice at the same time. Practice that way until you get your voice in tune consistently and without much effort. Play the note on a pitch pipe, piano, guitar, or other instrument. Concentrate on the vibration it makes within your ear. Many people have difficulty processing vocal notes after hearing instrumental notes, so if necessary, find a recording of someone singing that individual note. Listen to the vocal recording of that note and memorize the way it sounds.
4Sing the note aloud and record yourself while doing it. Play the recording back and compare your results with the actual note. Continuing practicing in this manner until you can sing the correct note. Sing loud enough to actually hear yourself. It can be embarrassing to sing loudly while you're still out of tune, but if you aren't able to actively hear yourself, you won't be able to evaluate your progress and correct yourself accordingly. Relax and sing the note without restraint. You may hit it correctly the first time you aim for it, but don't be discouraged if that doesn't happen. Listen to the recording to determine whether you need to sing higher or lower. Make the adjustment, then try again. Once you do hit the right note, practice singing it several times until you can hit the note directly and without needing to build or ease into it.
5If you need a little extra help, try practicing your chosen note using a digital tuner. The tuner will show you which note you're singing as you sing it, which makes it easier to adjust your singing voice in real time. Turn on the tuner and set it to your target note. Ideally, you should also set it within your natural pitch range, but many tuners will still work even if you inadvertently sing in a different octave. The tuner will play the note as a simple, ongoing tone. Listen to the note and try matching it in your head, then sing the note aloud. As you sing, the tuner screen will show if you're singing too high or too low. Adjust your pitch accordingly based on the these readings until the tuner indicates that you have hit the correct note. After hitting the correct note, repeat it and hold it as needed to imprint the way it sounds in your mind.
6Once you feel comfortable with the first note you chose, repeat the same process with another note that falls within your comfort zone. Do this multiple times until you complete at least one full octave. Be patient as you practice and don't rush through any of the notes. Periodically return to notes you practiced earlier. Verify that you can still hit those notes even after practicing others.
7When you feel comfortable with your ability to stay in tune on individual notes, practice stringing different notes together and singing the sequence. Try hitting each note directly, rather than gliding your voice between points. Work slowly. Begin by stringing two notes together and switching back and forth between them. Gradually introduce more into the sequence as you become comfortable making the switches. Continue evaluating your progress by recording your practices or using a digital tuner.
Part 2Sing a Song
1When choosing your practice song, try to pick one that fits your comfort zone. You can also drop or raise the octave of another song so that it matches your vocal range more naturally. For example, many songs meant for male voices are set to a key of G or A, but for those who have trouble staying in tune, dropping the key by half an octave (to C or D) may help. Similarly, many songs meant for female voices are set to a key of C or D, but for those who struggle, raising the key to E or F could improve the experience. For women with deeper voices, however, dropping the key to G or A might be better. If all else fails, just play around with different songs until you find one that fits. Listen to songs in multiple pitch ranges and try humming along, then pick a song you can hum to without straining your voice much.
2Listen as another singer practices the song. Try to replay each note in your mind immediately after it leaves the singer's mouth. You can listen to a live singer or to a recording; either option should suffice. Either way, try listening to a singer who sticks straight to the melody line. It might sound great when an experienced singer plays around with the melody, but for instructional purposes, you need to listen to someone who keeps the song as simple as possible. If you're listening to a recording and are unable to synchronize the tune inside your head, consider playing the song multiple times before moving into the next step.
3As you listen to the song, read the sheet music, or read the lyrics, identify every written pause and every unmarked opportunity for a natural pause. Note the placement of these pauses and remember them while singing. You must be able to strongly sing each phrase through to its end. If your breath weakens, your pitch will also weaken, and you'll fall out of tune. Try following the lyrics instead of the music. Read the lyrics aloud without singing them. As a general rule, any place you pause while speaking the words should be a place where you take a short breath while singing. You should avoid breathing in the middle of a word or thought.
4Play the song again and try singing along with the other singer. If you fall out of tune while you sing, try to correct yourself mid-song instead of stopping and starting over. If you remain out of key after several lines, however, stop yourself and return to the spot you faltered. Focus on getting your pitch perfect at that point. After correcting your mistake, start from the beginning and sing the song through. Continue until you are able to sing the song through and remain in tune throughout the entire thing.
5Once you feel comfortable with your ability to stay in tune while singing along, practice singing the song without the accompaniment of another singer. If possible, sing along to an instrumental version of that song instead of trying to sing a cappella. It'll be much easier to remain in tune with the music guiding you. Continue practicing as much as needed until you can confidently sing through the song without many any errors.
Part 3Continue to Improve Yourself
1After tuning your voice within one song, practice singing other songs that fit within your vocal comfort zone. You can gradually ease yourself beyond your comfort zone, as well, but only after you learn to consistently stay in tune while singing within your zone. Understand that some keys are completely outside of your vocal range, so even if you can sing in tune, you won't be able to sing along with songs set to those keys. Enjoy the process. The first few songs you pick might be simple and uninteresting, but as you improve, start progressing into songs you actively enjoy to make the experience more satisfying.
2It's possible to start singing in tune without any assistance, but enlisting the help of someone with a good singing voice or a good ear for music will usually make the process easier. Someone with a thorough understanding of pitches and keys will usually be able to offer more exact advice, but as long as someone has a fairly decent ear for music, he or she can listen to you, evaluate your progress, and make general suggestions. If you know someone who sings well and within your vocal range, consider asking him or her to sing along with you. You can match your voice to that person's to help yourself tune it.
3If you need extra help, consider taking formal singing classes at a community college or similar venue. Similarly, you could also take classes with private singing tutors or coaches. This option is more private than an open class, but it can also be more expensive.