How to Determine Whether You Are Tone Deaf

Singing is a combination of two functions:

  1. The ability to hear the sound
  2. The ability to produce the sound

Being able to do both allows you to sing on pitch. Many people who come to me would say they are tone deaf. However, within a few minutes of assessing their voice, what I typically find is that they are able to hear whether their voice and a note played on the piano match. What is challenging is being able to sing that note back to me accurately. This tells me that their basic instrument, their ear, is fine. They just haven't discovered how to produce that matching sound. This is the easier of the two functions to remedy.

Simple Steps to Improve Your Singing Pitch

Here’s one approach to developing your ability to match pitch.

First get a Digital Chromatic Tuner (DCT) with an internal microphone. You can purchase a digital chromatic tuner from your local music store. Musicians commonly use a DCT when tuning their guitars, etc. The Korg Chromatic Tuner CA-1 retails for under $20 in Calgary. Digital chromatic tuners are also available as smart phones apps.

Next, using a piano or a keyboard, play a note and watch the needle on the DCT waver back and forth between the red lights until the pitch matches and the green light comes on.

Now, sing that same note and vary your sound until the green light comes on. (If you're not sure how to vary your sound, mimic the sound of an ambulance siren as it wavers up and down.)

Practice moving up the keyboard one note at a time to develop your ability to sing notes in a sequence. Also practice a random jumble of notes to develop your ability to sing intervals.

Be patient as you do this. Give yourself positive reinforcement for working at something that challenges your old story of being ‘tone deaf’. If you make this a priority and are willing to practice 7 minutes every day for 3 weeks, you will see results.

Have fun with this. Come in for a complementary interview and let's test how you're doing.

Patty Shortreed MSOD
1219 12 Street SW, Calgary AB CANADA T3C 3W9

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