I'm a complete beginner and learning, but I hate my tone. I have done research and the tips to sing less nasally aren't helping. Neither are the tips to keep my soft palate high. Any suggestions?

Why does it sound so awful?

  • 2
    I can hear a 'back of throat' type tone that comes in when you're singing the higher / louder notes but I don't think it sounds 'horrible'!! Just sounds individual to me :-) If that tone is what you're referring to,then it seems to me that making the higher notes further up in your throat (v hard to explain-I'm not a singing coach) might help but I'd concur with the answers below: I'm hearing a bit of wobblieness in the pitch making the tune a bit undefined-sounding. To my ears, that needs work more than vocal tone. I love singing too. I hope you find how to make a sound you're happy with :-) Oct 15, 2018 at 16:10
  • 1
    @user2808054 Would you consider writing that into an answer? I think it'd be a great answer.
    – user45266
    Oct 16, 2018 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


Your tone isn't bad at all, what you need to work on is your intonation.

What do I mean by that? Firstly, let's define our terms more specifically; non-musicians often use "bad tone", "off key", "out of tune" and "flat" and similar terms quite interchangeably, but in musical language they refer to something specific, and different.


When musicians talk about "tone", "timbre", or "colour", we are talking about the sound quality of the note. For example, a trumpet, a violin, and guitar can play exactly the same note, and it will be the same pitch, but a different timbre.

Often the same instrument (in this case the voice) can produce different qualities of sounds, so for the same note on a guitar for example, you can pluck the string in different ways to produce a different "tone" or "colour".

When you sing, you have a pretty pleasing "tone" to your voice, it's not nasal, it's nice and open and "round" sounding. These are all subjective ambiguous terms of course, but that's perfectly natural when talking about tone, since it's something that's not so scientific to describe.


What you need to work on is your intonation. Whereas "tone" refers to subtle differences in timbre, intonation refers to small differences in pitch. Pitch refers not to the colour of the note, but how high, or low it is.

You are probably already familiar with the idea of different notes being higher or lower than others, but what you may be less familiar with is the idea that you can sing a note that is more or less the right pitch, but is just a little bit high or low. This is conventionally called being "out of tune", and more specifically being "flat" is being a little bit too low and "sharp" a little bit too high. If you're really out of tune then you might miss the note altogether and sing a nearby note, but even if you're only a little bit out of tune, so singing the right note but a little bit "flat" or "sharp", it can still sound bad.

The great news is that you obviously have ears good enough to detect that something is wrong, which means that you will be able to work on this. You might not yet be able to pinpoint the specific problem on your own, but that's just a question of practice and experience.

Confusingly, we sometimes we call people who can't hear pitch difference "tone deaf" (confusing, because it actually refers in musical terms not to tone (timbre) but to pitch. But hey, language isn't always 100% logical). You are clearly not tone deaf, your singing does follow the shape of the melody (just not quite accurately enough), and you can hear that something is off. These two things are an indication that your ear and brain know that something needs to be a little different; you're hearing the problem, you just need to train isolate it and fix it.

What's probably happening is that you're focusing so much on the "tone" and "quality" of your voice that you're not focusing on the intonation very much, which is the area you need to work on (because as I've said, your tone quality is absolutely fine, good even!).

Being able to recognise and reproduce small changes in pitch is a skill that must be practised like any other, and it's something that with singing is completely up to the singer (whereas with most (not all) instruments that have keys or frets or something the instrument does some of the work for you).

What now?

Well, now you know what you need to work on, it's intonation. Rather than write a long answer on something that I am sure has been covered on this site before, I will just point you in the right direction.

Instead of looking for "how to improve tone", what you need to look for is "how to improve intonation when singing" and "how to sing in tune". Also look for "ear training", which is the process of training the ear to recognise different pitches and reproduce them. There will be lots of questions on this site and elsewhere about these subjects and advice on how to practice them. I am sure once you start working on this specific area you will start to see some real improvements in your singing, and your nice vocal tone will be able to shine through on some beautifully in tune notes!!!

  • 3
    Omg thank you so much i appreciate it a lot. Now that i know the real terms to use i can research better. Thank you again
    – Poupee1989
    Oct 14, 2018 at 20:12
  • 7
    @Poupee1989 you are very welcome. In any field, being open to accept criticism and to work on your weak areas is the surest way to improve, but with music I think it's especially difficult, and singing even more so, since it's something so personal. It probably wasn't easy to post this, which shows a real willingness to accept criticism and a desire to improve even if it's not easy. You're exactly the kind of student a teacher wants to have, I'm sure you'll do great! Best of luck :)
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 14, 2018 at 20:17
  • On the terminology used by non-musicians. my mother is good at spotting that something is wrong with a performance but she calls almost all errors "flat". This can include playing the wrong note on a well tuned piano.
    – badjohn
    Oct 15, 2018 at 13:52

Some_Guy's answer covers most of the parts, I am listing few more tips which will help you sing better.

  1. Relax and sing/practice in low volume till your voice/recording is comfortable in that volume.
  2. Sing in lower pitch range based on your voice register and then increase range with training once your voice is comfortable in that range.
  3. Breathe in as needed, forget about breathing for a while(initial training phase) when singing in training, and breath-in as when your body needs it and try to align this breath-in at phrase endings once your breathing is comfortable in that phase after training.
  4. Sustain breath when singing, try to learn legato singing to avoid breaks in phrases.
  5. Have good posture, keep your spine straight, chest up and neck straight lifted.
  6. Practice on slow songs first and move to faster/higher notes songs.
  7. Never give up, keep practicing till you feel improvements in your recording.

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