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Developing Muscle Memory for Improved Singing

For some folks, a link is missing between hearing the pitch and singing it. Developing what’s called muscle memory can bridge the gap, however. Muscle memory refers to your body remembering how to do a task — like riding a bike or typing.

In singing, your voice remembers how it felt to sing a certain note or exercise so that you can recall that feeling the next time you sing the note. Practice the following exercise so you can develop muscle memory for matching pitch.

  1. Find a quiet place and take a few moments to listen to your favorite tune in your head.

  2. Take a moment and try to feel the pitch in your body.

    What does that mean? If you were asked to imagine yourself speaking, you’d feel or imagine the sensation in your body. You hear the sound of your speaking voice in your head when you’re rehearsing that funny joke for the dinner party or practicing your acceptance speech for the big awards banquet. Now, feel the sensation of singing the tune that you hear in your head.

  3. Visualize yourself singing the notes in the first few lines to process the message that your brain sends to your vocal cords.

  4. Sing a few lines of the tune.

    Were you close? If you got part of the song but not the high notes, try singing the song again in a lower key that’s more suited to your voice.

    If you sang most of the notes on target but missed a few, go more slowly. Take more time between hearing the pitch in your head and singing it. You can even sing a nursery rhyme that isn’t as complicated as your favorite tune.

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