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Use the Chromatic Scale to Improve Your Pitch: Video Walkthrough for Singers

Chromatic Scale to Improve Your Pitch: a walkthrough video of exercises to improve your pitch as a singer from voice coach Tamara Beatty

A few weeks ago, we reviewed the Chromatic Scale to help singers improve their riff skills. Several people tried it and were surprised with how much it helped improve their ear (yay!). They also requested a walkthrough to help with the practice, so that’s what this week’s video is all about! This video was made to be a press-and-play, follow-along practice. Let’s review the chromatic scale to help you improve your pitch as a singer. Hit play and follow along!

Remember, you probably won’t use this scale in it’s original format when you actually sing. But, being able to sing it throughout various exercises is what is going to improve your ear and help you become a better singer. That’s what we’re working on today. This is a skillset that will improve your singing – and now I want to walk you through what to do.

A Quick Review: 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. Things are a bit different in the chromatic scale. In this scale, every note is separated by a half step instead. 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.

Exercises for the Chromatic Scale

The first exercise is to sing every note on the scale. This is going to be your slowest version of the exercise. Put on a metronome and feel free to use “ooh” or “la”. Sing one pitch per beat of the metronome. This is the slowest we’ll go – so take your time and really feel every half step. Repeat the exercise until you’re confident with the speed and focus only on the ascending notes. Don’t worry about head voice or chest voice – just go through the scale. I recommend doing this at least 3-4 times to ensure you’ve got every note and it feels good.

Once you’re confident with that tempo, it’s time to go faster! Same concept – one note per beat, just a bit faster. We’re only doing the ascending notes. In the video this week, we’ll continue to get faster with this same exercise. Once you’ve gotten through the double time tempo, it’s time to do the same exercise (and tempo increases) with the descending notes! Once you’ve completed the descending scale, it’s time to put it all together.

After you’re comfortable going up and down the chromatic scale, we’ll begin to test ourselves. During this round of exercises, I’ll be dropping random pitches from the piano. Sing one note per beat and make sure you’re lining up with what I am playing! It’s a great way to test yourself and make sure you really do know the scale. Once you’ve got the basics of these exercises, you’ll be able to practice various other skills – including partial scales, using other keys, and so on. I hope that these exercises help you feel more confident with the scale – and as a way to improve your pitch as a singer!

Tune into the video this week for a press-and-play walkthrough of all of these exercises!

If you’d like to go to specific parts of the exercises, use these time codes:

Time Codes: First exercise 1:50

A little faster, ascending only 3:45

Even faster, ascending only 4:36

Double time tempo, 5:20

Descending at 90 BPM, 6:29

Descending at 120 PM, 7:20

Up & Down at 120 BPM, 8:11

Test Yourself #1, 9:27

Test Yourself #2, 11:20

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