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“How to sing in tune” is a very hot topic for those who want to get started in singing but are terrifying of doing it.
A lot of people are told by well-intentioned relatives and friends that they cannot sing, or even worse, that they are “tone deaf” and that they will never be able to sing. These statements, which could be made as simple jokes, have enormous consequences for those who believe them.
The truth is that most of the time, people that make these statements don’t even know what being tone-deaf means.
The term tone-deaf is reserved for those who are unable to identify different pitches.
However, in over 10 years of teaching, I haven’t had one single student that is actually tone-deaf. There are some that have difficulty singing in tune at first, but in my experience teaching, all of them eventually learn to sing in tune.
There are two kinds of people that talk about themselves as tone-deaf. There are those who cannot currently sing in tune, but they can hear it. And then there are those who don’t sing in tune and cannot tell. This post is about the last group, and for the sake of the article, I’m going to assume that you know nothing at all about music.
First of all, identify who planted that belief in your mind. Then, observe if that person has music knowledge of any kind or not. If not, then discard immediately their opinion. Remember that opinions from specific persons are just opinions and not an absolute truth, no matter who that person is.
If you think you’re tone-deaf, find a friend that actually knows music. Not only likes listening to music, but can actually play an instrument.
Then ask them to help you check if you can sing in tune or not, not by singing a song, but at first just by singing one single note.
If they have their instrument with them, ask them to play a note that is in your comfortable range (Probably C3 to F3 if you’re a male, and C4 to F4 if you are a female, will work OK). Then try to match the note by singing a long AHH. They will be able to tell you if you are in tune or not.
Well, in that case knowing how to sing in tune gets a little bit more difficult but there are still some things you can do.
You can download a tuner app on your phone. Tuners are used to tune instruments such as guitar. I use Guitar Tuna, but there are lots of them and you can get them for free.
This is how Guitar Tuna screen looks like.
As you can see there are letters D A E G B on the screen, they are there to help you tune your guitar but we are going to use them for other purposes.
If you are playing a D and then when you sing the app shows you a note that is nothing like that, for example, a G, then you have to work a little to tune your voice. It still doesn’t mean that you are tone-deaf, since lots of students with the same issue have resolved it with practice.
So if that is your case, prepare yourself to be patient and open to the process, because the process of opening your ears requires transformation
How can I open my ears?
Well, to start with, we not only listen with our ears but rather with our whole body.
This exercise has worked for all the students I have had that thought of themselves as “tone deaf”, with no exception. The moment they could sing the note in tune they knew it because it just felt right.
It is about connection and allowing the sound to flow through you. When you are starting, it doesn’t matter if you spend 20 minutes or more with a single note, that can well be a form of meditation actually! The more you practice, the easier it will become and soon you will be able to sing not only single notes but entire songs.
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