Just because someone can’t sing in tune does NOT mean that they are tone deaf.
There’s a difference between not being able to perceive pitch and not being able to reproduce pitch accurately. A world of difference, in fact.
There are so many things we can do to get in the way of good singing. Sometimes all that’s required is for a skilled teacher to identify and point out those things so that we can stop doing them and reconnect with our natural ability to sing.
For many years my tendency was to sing slightly under the note I wanted to sing. It wasn’t because I couldn’t hear the pitch I wanted to sing. It was my mistaken belief about how to stand, how to think about singing and how to think about performing.
I went from teacher to teacher trying to find one who could solve my problem. All the singing teachers gave me vocal exercises, and these worked to a certain degree.
But it wasn’t until I discovered a teacher who understood how my whole body (and my attitudes to performance) worked that I really solved the problem.
And I proved to myself that my problem was a problem with production, not perception.
And I am not alone. A Canadian study found that many individuals who consider themselves “tone-deaf” may not, in fact, have perceptual difficulties, and that these individuals should be supported in any of their efforts to proceed with music enjoyment and instruction.*
That’s what I want to do: support people who think they can’t sing but want to. I give people the tools that will help them sing. My students don’t have to audition or pass tests to learn from me. But they do have to be open to possibilities and willing to learn. As a teacher, I get the most satisfaction from teaching students who are curious and observant and who love learning; not necessarily from those who have the most abundant vocal or musical gifts.
I like this definition of talent from Eric Morris’s No Acting Please. “Talent is the ability to be affected by an enormous number of things and to express imaginatively the fullness of everything you feel.” Admittedly, it’s a definition of acting talent. But it’s worth considering in the context of music and singing.
My shorthand version of that is: Talent is the ability to respond creatively to stimuli.
So if you are ready (or someone you know is ready) to respond creatively to the stimulus of wishing to sing, check out my new on-line singing course.
It’s a home-study course for you to do at home over the (Australian) summer and includes a bonus workshop and short individual session for trouble-shooting and goal setting.
Join a choir.. Sing Karaoke.. Audition for a show.. Start a band..
Whatever your singing goal
Find your voice in 2019.
Want to know 3 mistakes singing students often make? Find out here and how to avoid them.
*Cuddy et al. “Musical difficulties are rare. A Study of ‘Tone Deafness’ among University Students.” Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1060: 311–324 (2005).