Learning to Sing with Tone-Deaf
I am Tone-Deaf. Can I still sing?
In my journey as a voice coach, I often came across tone-deaf students. The clinical term for Tone Deaf is Amusia.
“Symptoms of receptive Amusia sometimes referred to as “musical deafness” or “tone-deafness,” include the inability to recognize familiar melodies, the loss of ability to read musical notation, and the inability to detect wrong or out-of-tune notes.” Source: Wikipedia
All the above all sound too technical. Let me simplify it.
For a person to be tone-deaf, there are 2 possibilities:
- Accidental brain damage at birth (might be due to insufficient oxygen going to the brain at birth)
What does the above tell us?
It tells us that if your case does not belong to the above 2 possibilities, you might just be having an insensitive in musical memory.
This means, unless your tone-deaf is related to the above clinical condition, you can be pitch-perfect too.
I am going to share with you how you can achieve that.
My mum loves to sing.
But she was tone-deaf. I recalled, when I was younger, she asked me to teach her a song. I tried.
But I gave up, and I was convinced that she would be tone-deaf forever. So, I stop coaching her altogether.
A few years later, she enrolled herself in a group singing class and kept singing since. She knew she had a tone-deaf problem, but it is non-clinical.
She was determined to perfect her pitch.
This was what she did
She sang day and night. She sang while she was doing her chores, she sang while she was cooking, she even sang while she is watching TV stations, well, more like humming the tune.
She would sing and record and playback and listen.
She would repeat this like a loop.
And after many years of perseverance (10 years maybe?), she is now 80% pitch-perfect.
For those who are “suffering” from tone-deaf, you might want to do what my mum did.
Here is how you should do.
The first thing you should do is sing, record, playback, and listen.
Most of my tone-deaf students are not able to listen to their own pitch while singing.
They are unable to differentiate between a wrong pitch and a correct pitch.
But, they can tell if others are singing out of tune!
Hence, by doing, record, playback, and listen to your own rendition, you will be able to hear the pitch that you execute.
The second thing you should start doing is, use a keyboard (download a virtual keyboard if you don’t have one).
Here are the steps to follow:
Start with one note at a time, Record and playback each time.
Step 1: Play a note
Step 2: Let your brain process the note internally.
Step 3: Executive the note
Next, play other notes, and repeat Step 2 and 3
Next, play 2 notes, and repeat Ste 2 and 3
Next, play another 2 notes, try using jumping notes, for example, C and E or E and G, and repeat Step 2 and 3
Try doing this every day – record and playback.
This exercise aims to train your mind to be more sensitive to tones and thus strengthen your musical memory.
Don’t feel despair when your friends tell you that you sing “out-of-tune. All you need is a good voice coach who will guide you through step-by-step, note-by-note, to achieve the right pitch.
In my coming blogs, I will cover more voice techniques used in speaking and singing.
I hope you enjoy reading this article and if you have any feedback or suggestions, we welcome your writing in.
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Are you ready to challenge your friends that you are not tone-deaf?
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