Do You Think You’re “Tone Deaf”?

Many people come to me believing and claiming that they are tone deaf. On inquiry, however, it seeHave you been told you can't sing?ms that tone deafness seems is actually more of a mystery to them.

What they know is that they’re told by others that

  • you’re “off pitch”
  • you “can’t sing”
  • you should be quiet
  • you’ll make your dog howl,
  • you’re not blending, or
  • (the biggie) you’re tone deaf.

Have you ever been the recipient of these not-so-helpful comments?

The Truth about Tone Deafness

The truth of the matter is that most people simply need ear training! Occasionally, a person may have a medical or cognitive condition that inhibits their ability to hear pitches relative to one another, to “sing back” pitches they hear, or to produce differentiated pitches. But the vast majority of people who think they’re tone deaf (or are told by insensitive siblings when they’re 13 that they can’t sing worth beans) just need to train their ears and brains how to hear and sing well.


How to Improve Your “Ear”

I’m a firm believer that all people can sing and that most people can sing on pitch with reliable and consistent ear training. You can get this through singing with a choir or alone by engaging in these activities:

  • listening
  • repeating/reflecting back what you hear
  • singing along (pitch-matching in a variety of ways and contexts)
  • consistently receiving accurate feedback regarding whether you’re on pitch or not
  • working on correcting when you’re not on pitch, and
  • learning to feel in your face and body whether you’re on pitch or not. This isn’t some esoteric thing; it has to do with principles of physics and the physical vibrations of sound waves.


If you’d like to discover the likelihood of whether you’re tone deaf or not, take the test at As for myself, I was relieved as a voice teacher to learn that I’m definitely not tone deaf. Phew!

I am not tone deaf! Phew!

I mean, I should think so, but with the way my kids harass me when I sing in the car, sometimes I’ve wondered. 😉

If you need some lessons and want personalized attention, of course call me or contact me through our web form here. But if you’re looking for an online way to learn to sing, check out Musical U’s online “how to sing” course here. They also have a free, introductory ear-training “crash course” that is delivered to your email inbox, which you can get here. Their course is interactive, step by step, affordable, grounded in musical excellence, and very helpful. You may even use it while obtaining monthly or more often private sessions with me as a “check-in” time. I’ve worked with several students in this way and it’s been extremely beneficial for all.

Check them out, have fun with them, learn from them, and PLEASE let me know in the comments below what you discover!


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