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What if I'm tone deaf?
First things first: you probably aren't truly "tone deaf"!
Generally when people describe themselves (or others) as "tone deaf", what they mean
is "they can't hear pitches well" or simply "they can't sing in tune".
Often this is assumed to be an inherent trait of a person, going hand-in-hand with whether
they "are musical". However, it is only a very tiny proportion of the population (about
4%) who actually have a clinical condition (amusia) preventing them from appreciating
differences in pitch. You can take an online test here, here or here to see if you might
have this clinical condition.
In the vast majority of cases, struggling to hear pitch or stay in tune actually boils
down to lack of training. Most often, a bad childhood experience of music education (e.g.
being told they "can't sing") leads to them not engaging with music learning, not practising,
and simply assuming they "aren't musical" forever more.
What a tragedy! And such an unnecessary one.
How to cure tone deafness
The truth is that (excepting the clinical cases above), anybody can improve their appreciation
of pitch. For example, our RelativePitch app begins from the simplest exercise: "Are these
two notes the same or different?" and we have yet to encounter somebody who cannot (with
some concentration and practice) succeed at this challenge!
In fact, here are a few excerpts from our app reviews:
Not a musician! But, I am finding that I am not as tone deaf as I thought. Great learning
Finally I have my tone deaf wife telling the difference between unison and tone.
This is an awesome program. I tried a cheaper app and it just moved too quickly. My ear
is fairly tone deaf, so I need something with training wheels on it!
Excellent. don't go through life tone-deaf, people
Listen and Sing
Singing out of tune is often the prominent sign people take to indicate someone is "tone
deaf" -- but by developing some pitch appreciation (with relative pitch ear training) and doing
some singing practice to connect the improved inner ear with vocal chord control, there
is no reason these people cannot escape the unnecessary and unhelpful label of being "tone
Don't accept that you are not musical If you are someone who has been told you are
"tone deaf" or somebody has had the narrow-minded cheek to suggest you "can't sing" -- take
heart! They are most probably wrong.
You need only spend a bit of time developing your ear and your voice, and there's no reason
you can't become just as musical as you want to be.