There’s no magic to understanding how to match pitch. Learning takes patience, perseverance, and humor enough to listen to yourself, laugh, and keep on trying till you get it. I scoured the web for free pitch matching options, and the best tool I could find is a website called Theta Music Trainer. It is a site filled with a massive array of aural skills games. A basic level account, which allows you to play every game at a beginner’s level, is free. I highly recommend it, not only because the games are robust tools, but because “game-ifying” anything is a great way for students, especially little ones, to stay motivated.
Here are some games that will help you start matching pitch.
Understand Pitch Relationships
It is important to gain at least a rudimentary understanding of pitch relationships before you learn to match pitch. That is, you should develop the ability to determine whether one pitch is higher or lower than another pitch. ‘Speed Pitch’ trains exactly that—the object is to quickly determine whether a second note is the same, higher, or lower in pitch, as the first. Before pitch matching with your voice, you should be able to comfortably play this game at a beginner’s level without making many mistakes.
Manipulate Pitch Relationships
‘Dango Brothers’ is a good intermediate step between identifying pitch relationships, and matching pitch with your voice. It features two tones of different pitch. Like the above game, you must identify which pitch is higher or lower. However, unlike the last game, you get to manipulate one of the pitches until it matches the other. It is exactly what you’ll aim to do with your voice in the next exercise.
Match Pitch With Visual Cues
In the last blog entry, I mentioned that pitch matching is more difficult to learn than an activity like throwing a dart, because we don’t usually have visual cues as feedback to tell us what we did was wrong or right. When you throw a dart, you see where it lands, and adjust your throw accordingly: higher, lower, to the right, or to the left. This game allows you to do something very similar with your voice. The game sounds a tone, and you try to match that tone. If your voice is sharp, you see a red light clockwise of the note you sang. If your voice is flat, you see a red light counterclockwise of the note you sang. It’s an extremely simple but effective tool, and a good way of building the muscle memory and coordination you need to sing on pitch. I’m not a huge fan of the extremely short levels, or the fact that you need to buy a paid subscription to access the higher levels, but it’s a great starting place.
The game says you need a headset with a microphone, but I’ve found the speakers and built-in microphone on my two-year-old macbook work just fine for the game.
Molly is the founder of Molly’s Music. She is a dedicated singer and pianist whose musical journey spans 2.5 decades, with stops along the way to sing for the pope, pass Certificate of Merit at the highest level, study with Gwen Verdon and Ben Vereen, and record an original album.