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Something I really struggle with when singing is finding the first note as I start a song (singing + playing guitar), or when there's a big jump such as going from a verse into a high chorus. Without reference points I either hit it great, or utter some awful squawk - the more I go for it 100% the greater chance of hitting it, but the worse it sounds if I miss it.

It's also definitely worse when under stress such as performing/leading a song rather than practising.

When you have to "go in cold" like this, what techniques can I use to try and increase confidence and reduce errors?

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Most of the time, the first note you'll need to sing will belong to the chord you're on. One of the strings will be playing that note. In practice time, isolate that note for each particular tune, and play it separately. It will usually be a 1,3 or 5 of the chord. Learn to play a chord, and sing the 1,3 or 5 of it. There will be a bonus when you start to harmonise with someone else - 'he's singing a 1, so I can sing a 3 over it'.

It is a help to play the chord before you sing, or often, the dominant chord to leads into it. Try 'Happy Birthday'. Let's say it's in F. Play a C7 chord to pitch it to, the 'happy' part will fit to it, then you're on F for the 'birthday' part.

It sounds almost like you play and sing spontaneously together. If it's the case, give yourself a fighting chance. Say,in C,play an intro of C, Am, F, G7 (I,vi,IV,V7) to establish the key. Lots of songs do this sort of thing.

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    It's generally on higher parts I have this issue... even when playing a short intro or the first chord as an intro. I think in this case the note is an octave above the 'dominant pitch' you get playing the chord so I'm having to sing a chord note, but not at a pitch I'm playing. Does that sound plausible? – Mr. Boy Jun 5 '15 at 12:32

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