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10 tips for clean intonation

In today's post, we present 10 step-by-step exercises for clean intonation. Regular practice and a slow approach are the foundation, so pick a new exercise every week and practice it for 15 minutes a day! In 10 weeks you will already have a finer ear and much better intonation, so keep at it and have fun with the exercises! 😊

#1: Listen to yourself carefully! 👂🏽🎵

The first thing you should do at the beginning of learning an instrument is to listen to yourself and get to know the instrument. Completely free, without accompaniment and rules...just try it out. For example, you can hold a note for a long time and then see what changes when you move your hand or when you get louder and softer. It also helps to alternate between two tones. This will give you a feel for the tone and pitch. 🔊🎻

In the beginning, you don't need another person to listen to you. Of course, later on it is important that another person gives you regular feedback. However, a tuner, which you can download for free as an app, is sufficient at first. This gives you a visual feedback and thus you can see whether the held out tone sounds at least rudimentary in the right range. Because in the beginning, that's not easy either. 📲

In the long run, however, it is important to train your own good hearing, so that you can judge for yourself whether the tone has the right pitch or not! A tuner is then no longer well suited for this! ✌🏽

It is important to have patience and rather practice less regularly than a lot once a week. The fast cool pieces can also wait a short time, because only when the foundation (intonation & technique) is right, nothing stands in the way of your progress. 😊

#2: Play clean tones one at a time! 👂🏽🔉

After you have gotten a feeling for your instrument and the tone in the first exercise, the second exercise is about playing individual notes cleanly. In the best case, your teacher plays a clean tone on the instrument and you try to copy it. 🎻

This will give you feedback as to whether the note needs to be played higher or lower. Then you simply repeat the whole thing often and change the tones. It also helps a lot if you not only play the tone, but also imagine and even sing the tone. This has the effect of helping you develop an even better sense of pitch! 💭

#3: Let a cleanly tuned instrument accompany you! 👂🏽🔉

In this exercise it gets a bit more exciting. Now you are not only supposed to play single notes, but single melodies in class. It is best if you are accompanied by your instrument, i.e. if you play the violin, by another violin. If necessary, it also works with a piano, although only the even temperament can be used there. 🎵

The first thing you do is play a melody. Then you can try to play along with the melody at the same time, which will show more clearly whether your pitch is different from the correct one. And as a third step your accompaniment should just hold the basic notes/chords and you play the melody over it. This is a bit more advanced, but has a super practice effect! ✔️

Also try to do the whole thing again in "slow motion". This makes it even more challenging and lets you hear the intonation even better and recognize deviations even better. ⏳

Unfortunately, this practice is limited to the weekly lesson time together with your teacher. Because intonation training has not been possible on its own, we have developed Intonica, a digital intonation trainer that allows you to practice regularly from home in addition to your lessons. More about this at the end. 💻

#4: Record yourself practicing. 🎙

It's simple but sooo effective! And recording doesn't mean making the perfect record for the next CD, but simply letting the microphone run along. If you simply record yourself practicing, your intonation can often be better assessed afterwards. It's best to just close your eyes and listen to every subtlety. It's like you're taking the role of the examiner in an entrance exam right now. 😁

It is good to record yourself alone, but also with others together or a playback recording of a polyphonic piece. A video recording also makes sense, especially for string instruments. This way you can not only check your intonation, but also your technique and posture. 👍🏽

And if the recording is still good, send it to your grandparents via WhatsApp (if the technology has already arrived there), they will be happy! And bang, killed 2 birds with one stone.... 🤪 At Intonica you can also record yourself together with a virtual ensemble and listen to the overall sound afterwards!

#5: Practice different scales regularly. 🎵

Ew scales...many think to themselves. "That's just dull." 💤 Yes and no we would say. Scales are always the same and of course it's more fun to just play a cool tune with nice melodies! 👀

However, scales can also be very diverse. It is not about playing the C major scale 100 times up and down, but also F# major or a chromatic scale should be trained. In addition, there is the way a scale is played. In different tempos and stroke types as well as everything else there is to practice variations! 🎵

Scales are a great way to develop your musical ear. Because every piece is based on scales and intervals, you will become familiar with all keys through scale training. Otherwise, you may end up intonating the one piece in G major cleanly, but as soon as the key changes, the intonation won't be right. 😣

That's why there: play scales regularly in every key and different exercises for them, then you'll be very flexible! 🙏🏽😊

#6: Bach chorales, the ideal sparring partner for intonation training. 🥊

A few hundred years ago, a musical genius named Johann Sebastian Bach was regularly writing new pieces for his church music. He could compose several chorales in a day in no time and write them down easily...😅

But as chance would have it, J. S. Bach conjured up something very special back then, and because of the contrapuntal interpretation as well as the special thematic structuring, these pieces are ideal for ensembles and especially for intonation training. 🙀

Because simply put, these pieces have 4 voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), each with its own melody, and each voice is equal. Nevertheless, together they create a very harmonious sound, because each note is the structure of a chord. This means that when practicing, you can simply play any voice and let the other voices accompany you harmonically. This makes it much easier to hear your own intonation, and any deviation in tone will be noticed more quickly. 💡

In addition, the pieces are very looooow without fast passages and also technically not too demanding. Therefore, when making music can concentrate 100% on the harmonies and its intonation and musicality. 🐌

#7: Chords help you listen very well! 👂🏽

Ever heard of chords? Major 7, minor, seventh,...If so, great, there are a few tips on how you can use chords in intonation training. If these are all foreign words, feel free to get busy! ✌🏽

In general, we recommend listening to and playing as many different chords as possible. And that in every key. In jazz, chords are often given more importance than in classical music, but chords are always part of music. Getting good at chords and developing a good ear for them will take your intonation to a new level. 🙌🏽

Practice tip: grab a key and a chord, e.g. a G major chord, and play it in different variations. You can combine notes in different ways! You can also try different things in tempos and volumes. As always, having a clean instrument accompany you by having the accompaniment lay down the root or even play the chord all the way through will help you a lot. 💡

Since this is unfortunately difficult to do alone at home, this is where Intonica comes into play again! We offer with the chord module the perfect training program for any chords and scales by providing you with a professional accompaniment and flexible setting options! 🎶

#8: Practice jumping tones and thinking in intervals! 👂🏽

So now you have already dealt with intervals, harmonies and different tunings. Today we would like to give you the suggestion to generally think much more in intervals. Just start playing different tone jumps in slow motion and be very aware of what you are doing. 💡

What does a major seventh sound like, where is it going? Really take your time with each interval. Then transfer this thinking into your normal playing! Take a Bach chorale, for example, and while playing it, always think about which interval the pitch has. Even just imagining an interval (without playing it) trains your ear very well. The goal is that by the end of the day you have each interval correctly in your head already in your imagination. It takes a lot of practice to do that! 🔝

As a last step, analyze the piece and see what harmonic changes there are within the piece? Does the tonic change or stay the same? What chord does the note I'm playing belong to? 😱

Many difficult questions, but in order to bring your intonation to a higher level of subtlety, this is essential. But be careful: we are talking about student level here and no longer hobby musician. The main thing is that you enjoy making music! 😊

#9: Use different timbres! 🔉

Now we want to experiment with the great timbres of our instrument or voice. There are huge differences between string instrumentalists, wind players and singers! Especially with wind instruments and singing, the timbre or pressure has a great influence on the intonation, because it can control the pitch. With string instruments, this effect is a little less, however, it is also exciting here to direct the focus to another subject and still pay attention to the intonation. 🎻

So just try to sing/play very loudly and powerfully at times, or very softly and quietly at others. Vary your embouchure on the wind instrument or try out different vowels and sounds as a singer. On the string instrument, you can experiment with portato or legato, for example. 🔬

Just try this out and still pay very close attention to your intonation! How does it change during the different timbres? Does the tone become higher or lower when you apply more pressure? Can you perceive your intonation better or worse when you play very loud? What happens when you increase the bow pressure on the instrument? When can you hear the overtones particularly well? You can also run the tuner to help you with this. 🦻🏼

Just like in the beginning, you should get to know your instrument or your voice better, only on an even finer level. With regular training you get more and more experience for the timbres and bring your intonation to a new level! 💪🏽

#10: Play in an ensemble with others! 👨👩👧👦

Now we come to the last voicing exercise in this series of exercises! Namely, the fine art of ensemble playing together. The big goal of most musicians when they learn an instrument. Because let's face it, it's just great to make music together with other people and create an overall harmonious sound! 😍

However, this is a big step and for many there are inhibitions at first. "What if I annoy the others with my unclean tones?" "What if the whole orchestra looks at me because I'm not intonating correctly?"...lots of unpleasant ideas 🙁.

And it is the case that intonation is even more important, especially when playing with other musicians, because irregularities are more noticeable in the overall sound of the harmonies. That's why previous experience and good intonation are often a basic prerequisite for playing with other musicians. However, it is also within an ensemble that one learns best how to fine-tune one's own intonation and create an overall harmonic sound! 😇

Intonica is the perfect test environment and helps to solve the problems mentioned above. In Intonica you have a virtual ensemble and you can make music together with real professionals. And you can do it without inhibitions or fear, because you're on your own and can repeat the piece as many times as you like. Digital sheet music, flexible customization options, and picking individual parts creates you the ideal intonation training and prepares you to join the real ensemble. 🙌🏽

If you feel confident with Intonica, then get out into the world and find other musicians to play with! But even that is not possible everywhere and at all times. Meeting up once a week is realistic, but with Intonica, in addition to lessons and ensemble, you can also turn on your virtual professional ensemble on your own at any time and make music from home.


We hope the tips could help you! Save this blog to check back every week to see what exercises you can do. If you want to try our digital intonation trainer Intonica, then simply register via the following link:

Test it now for free!


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