Singer Sundays #6

As with any profession, the more experience gained, the more knowledge possessed. After seventeen years of working as a professional vocalist, I have picked up quite a few tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy voice. Singer Sundays is my means of passing on this information and hoping it will serve useful to those who enjoy sharing the gift of vocal music.

Tip #6 — The Tuning Fork – a $4 gem

As a singer, I am always looking for ways to improve my range, vocal endurance, and especially my ear. During my first professional job at a theme park years ago, a musician in my cast showed me a tuning fork. I had no clue what it was or why anyone would need one. He explained that he carried it with him in case there wasn’t a pitch pipe, keyboard, etc. to tune off of. As we talked, I realized how helpful this would be for auditions – when you are sitting in a waiting room, nerves kick in, and you hope you can belt that C sharp, but you aren’t exactly sure where that C sharp is in your voice. That summer my friend ended up giving me a tuning fork as a gift, and I still have it seventeen years later. Over the past seventeen years, I have developed relative pitch all thanks to this tuning fork.

So how does it work? My tuning fork is an A. When I hit the metal against an object that is the pitch I hear. After years of using it, I know where an A sits in my voice below middle, above middle C, and above the staff.   Using intervals, I can find any pitch from the A and now so many years later, I am familiar with where most of those pitches sit in my voice. In this age of technology, there are apps for everything, but part of mastering anything is being so familiar with it that crutches are not needed. A tuning fork costs $4-6, you can easily fit in in your pocket, it helps develop your ear and brain by learning to hear intervals based off the original pitch, and allows you to be independent as a singer with no need for anything but your voice. Pass up that $4 latte today and invest in a tuning fork.   The gains will be worth much more than the investment.