Do you avoid singing in front of others? Have your friends told you that you can’t sing, or that you’re tone deaf? Truth is, you might not be tone deaf after all.
Many people believe that they’re tone deaf, and may even avoid taking music lessons because of that belief, or because they feel like they have no talent for singing. The good news is that talent doesn’t really matter, and a great music teacher can always help you to improve your skills. Plus, tone deafness is rare.
When a person is tone deaf, also called having amusia, they cannot recognize differences in pitch. This means that they can’t sing along with even simple tunes, and can’t match the pitch of their voice to the pitch of a piece of music that’s being played.
While many people believe they are tone deaf, true amusia only affects 1 in 20 people. Brain scans of people with amusia revealed that there is a weaker connection between the part of their brains that process sounds and the part of their brains that operate higher-level thinking.
It’s very rare to be unable to match pitch or to be tone deaf. At Sage Music, we’ve seen thousands of students, and not one has been unable to match pitch. If you think that you’re tone deaf, take the quiz from Harvard’s music lab if you have any doubts. Or try this test.
More often, when people complain of being tone deaf, it’s actually because they can’t sing what they do hear. That’s not a problem of being tone deaf; it’s that they have trouble performing the complex work of singing.
But this ability to match pitch can be learned. We help people do this all the time.
Not being able to match pitch is frustrating, and you probably don’t enjoy singing in front of people. But music lessons can help. By learning how to place the vocal apparatus, your mouth, your head, and how to breathe and support the pitch, you can get better at matching pitch. Your singing skills will improve and a talented vocal teacher can select pieces that help to develop your singing and your voice.
You may think, “Well, if I can’t sing then I’ll just play an instrument.” Many people opt to play instruments instead of becoming singers, but singing lessons are just as important for instrumentalists. By taking singing lessons, instrumentalists learn techniques that help them to learn songs more quickly. Singing also teaches them important skills about recognizing the music on the page and understanding what should be coming out of their instrument. With improved sight singing skills, instrumentalists can better understand the music and can quickly identify places where they may be hitting a wrong note or playing a rhythm incorrectly.
Taking music lessons is the best way to learn to match pitch. It will take some work on your part, but with a teacher’s help, you can improve your singing abilities. You can also learn some other strategies to try if you aren’t able to come in to take lessons at Sage Music. Using a digital tuner and singing scales with a tuner can help you to gain better control over your vocal pitch.
Chances are that you aren’t actually tone deaf, but even if you do have amusia, you can still enjoy music. People who have amusia can’t always identify the emotional content of a piece of music, and their ability to verbalize those emotions found in music is sometimes limited. However, people with amusia can identify the emotional intensity contained in music.
If you want to learn to enjoy music more, we’d be happy to help you here at Sage Music School. All of our music teachers are professionals trained to help you learn and meet your goals.