How to Develop Perfect Pitch in 5 Steps

As I stated before, the ability to develop Perfect Pitch is highly unlikely if you expect to be perfect all the time. Even those with Perfect Pitch have off days as I indicated in the previous post. Extenuating factors will affect your consistency but be assured, with practice; you should be able to improve dramatically.

I wandered through the maze of claims this morning in search of the perfect routine to be using and found many sites which promised instant success on your road to Perfect Pitch. If they claim to have the “easy” answer to success, click out of the site and continue your search. Few sites will even offer you a trial offer. Several offered a free sample and after searching the site from top to bottom, I finally gave up in frustration. I did find one site that looked promising but after trying their free download, I realized that the program was full of errors and many times when I tried using it, it continued to lock up on me. MORE FRUSTRATION. Finally I found a site that was simple, bullet proof and did exactly what I wanted it to do.

Step 1- The first two weeks

Bulls Eye

Photo Credit: timsnell on Flickr

At this site, you will be able to practice your ability to recognize pitches played on the piano. Several levels of difficulty are offered and for the most part, the program is relatively stable. After you get into the series of notes, it might stop on you but by that time you have covered many series of notes. Resetting is easy and off you go again. The program keeps track of your score if this is important to you. This would be your first step in developing Perfect Pitch and after two weeks of practicing it you should be ready for your next step.

Step 2- day 15

This next exercise will require you to sing, so if you are self conscious of your singing skills, find an isolated area to begin your exercise. You will also need a copy of the H.L. Clarke Technical Studies for Cornet. Open to page 8 exercise #32. Play the first note on your instrument for a reference and with your horn in your right hand; sing the exercise as you finger the corresponding valves. Next play the exercise as you look at the notes. Continue from # 32 up ward until you reach # 44. Now go back to exercise #32 and repeat the exercises again. First sing the line while valving the same line. Then play the exercise on your instrument.

Step 3- day 16

Begin this day on page 35 and start in the fifth measure and repeat the same routine as the previous day, ie, sing the exercise as you valve the passage and then play the five measures on your instrument. Continue as far as you can without straining your voice. By now you should see improvement in your eye and finger reactions to each note.

Step 3- day 17

Pick any exercise from your previous days, play the first note of that exercise on your instrument and then sing the exercise as you finger the passage. Then pick a different line and repeat your exercise first singing as you valve it then playing it. Continue picking random lines and repeating your singing with valving and finally playing. After about twenty minutes stop and rest. Have you been able to feel the connection between what your eyes see and how your fingers feel as you sing and valve the passages? This connection will be very valuable in the next few days when you begin the final exercises toward Perfect Pitch.

Step 4

Continue with your regular practice routine and add this exercise. During your practice, substitute your exercise of singing as you valve different sections of your practice material. If you are working on an etude, pick out eight measures that you would have performed on your instrument and substitute the sing, valve routine, and then continue playing as normal. Gradually you will be substituting more segments and eventually you should be able to shift back and forth between the two with ease.

Step 5 and last

Spend about ten minutes each day singing and valving songs which are familiar to you. By now you should be able to feel each note that you sing. If you can, all you need to do is continue with this last exercise until any note you see, will be a note you can hear as well as feel in your fingers.

Eventually you will be able to look at any note, hear that note as you feel it in your fingers. At first you might miss the note by a half-step but with additional practice you will zero in on the center of each note and be able to trust your eyes, ears and fingers. It will also be helpful to work regularly on the web site here.

The best of luck to you and soon you may start experiencing all of the disadvantages of Perfect Pitch which were mentioned earlier. Did you hear that car beep? What pitch was that? And don’t forget to impress your friends when they scoot their chair back and you mention to them that it was a concert Ab.

Have you tried these steps?  We want to hear from you.  Let us know how it goes by adding your comments below.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

2 thoughts on “How to Develop Perfect Pitch in 5 Steps

  1. Rich

    Trying to develop Perfect Pitch can be a long tedious process. Try playing a computer game called Perfect Pitch Pursuit. It was created by Smartwave Software and can be downloaded from their website, or from cnet. I have been using it and making great progress.

    • Bruce Chidester

      Any time we are consciously listening, we are developing our accuracy in recognizing pitch intervals. Games, tuners, computers, what ever we use as long as we are consciously aware of changes in pitch, we will improve. Unfortunately many times we play and never listen. I remember a statement made by a wonderful trumpet player by the name of Joyce Johnson at a Missouri State trumpet convention when she said, “every time I play a note, I climb inside that note”. To me that was the most expressive statement I have ever heard about the importance of every note we play. If you crawl inside each note, you become that note. That was a very profound statement and I will always remember it.

      Thank you Joyce Johnson, where ever you are.

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