Improve Your Pitch with The Chromatic Scale

Improve your pitch using the chromatic scale as a singer: easy exercises to improve your ear shared by vocal coach Tamara Beatty

Today, we’re talking about a subject a lot of singers are interested ini: singing on pitch. While I recently talked about three reasons why you go off pitch when you sing, I wanted to share a simple exercise that will help you be able to train your ear to improve your pitch. This exercise is based on one of the building blocks of music: the chromatic scale. This scale doesn’t have a huge function for a singer in terms of muscality – but is a VERY BIG HELP when it comes to training your ear so you don’t sing off pitch!

The Chromatic Scale

When we sing scales in music, we’re usually working with the major diatonice scale. That’s the one that follows do-re-me-fa-sol-la-ti-do and spans 8 notes (an octave). Most of the exercises we use typically work within this scale (like the arpeggio exercises) and there’s lots of variations you can use. But, what we’re going to use today to work on our pitch is the chromatic scale. In this scale, every note is separated by a half step. On the keyboard, you’re going to play every key within an octave, white or black, for 13 total notes. Eventually, the goal will be to sing the entire chromatic scale without having to use the piano. This skill is key for singers of all levels.

How to Build Skills with the Chromatic Scale

The first thing you want to be able to do is play and sing the chromatic scale at the same time so that you can listen and assess your pitch on each note. Remember, this should be done in a space on the keyboard that works with your voice. Sing a syllable of your choice as you walk up the scale using the keyboard. Make sure you do this exercise in a few different keys! 

Another great exercise is to go from your “do” and do a half step up then come back to “do”, then drop down a half step, aka: 1, 2, 1, 7, 1 in your scale. You can then do the full scale and when you come back down, do the half step below “do”, too. If this seems confusing at all, it is laid out crystal clear in this week’s video!

In this video, I’ll walk you through a few easy ways to practice this scale. This scale will truly help you learn how to fine tune your ear as a singer! One of the first thing that turns a listener off is poor pitch. Whether your pitch is good, pretty good, or not very good, being able to do this scale will noticeably improve your pitch. Give it a try! 

Tune into this week’s video for more tips and to walk through the exercises!

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