Singing is a learned skill, and if we are lucky, we learn when we are young, through nursery rhymes, finger plays and community singing.
Children generally learn to pitch accurately sometime between age two and ten.
Some adults can’t sing in tune because their family didn’t sing accurately, and some because they have had a hurtful experience during their early years.
The good news is, at any stage in our lives, with perseverance and the right tools and information, we can get better at most things we choose, including singing and music.
Just like learning a language, it’s easier when we are little, but still very possible when we are older.
The steps are the same though. We need to develop musicianship skills. Is the note higher, lower or the same? How many beats are there and how many sounds on a beat? Can we map out on our bodies where the song starts and the melodic contour?
Let’s start with simple songs in an easy range. Sometimes when we learn to pitch match it’s easier if the person assisting us ‘comes to us’ to help us hear when the notes are the same.
What is pitch anyway? It’s the fundamental frequency of a sound. There are lots of frequencies in a sound, and it’s not surprising sometimes people reproduce the ‘wrong’ one.
How do I have to use my body to reach a ‘high’ note?
These and more are things that need to be explored.
Some people are lucky to have explored all the above and more when they were little, through their play. They’ve been hearing music around them since before they were born, and usually have people singing with them.