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Tone deaf

Greetings
 
I hate to ask this question specially here in a prestigious choral site but all intelligent and experience choral masters are here for to seek help.  How long can a tone deaf learn correct pitch or is there hope for them .... in a small remote area with small population, one of my option is to accept them as volunteer, my only hope is for them to learn ....
on June 20, 2013 3:33am
I generally reckon that if someone responds to music positively enough that they want to join a choir, they have the wherewithal to learn to match pitch. And they'll learn better in a choir than trying to do it by themselves.
 
Make sure there are opportunities to sing slowly, so they're not always trying to catch a moving target, and the better matched the overall sound is, the more chance they have of locking into pitch. Also don't be surprised if the recently-acquired skills disappear again if they get anxious or overwhelmed.
 
I learned a lot from a complete novice who joined my choir and was very haphazard in the early days. There was very little at first by way of inner hearing, so all tuning was done by feel, like tuning a radio - ranging around until she found the other voices, and then she could tell by feel she had found it. Actually, she is still rather wayward, but more likely to wander off onto someone else's part than wander off-piste entirely these days. I'm stilll learning from her!
 
Oh, and 'tone deaf' is an unhelpful phrase when people are trying to learn this. 'Beginner' is a more value-neutral description.
 
Good luck!
 
liz
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 5
on June 20, 2013 4:29am
Hi Angel,
Years ago, probably about 1970, my very respected college proffessor/mentor said in class something to te effect that only very few people are actually tone deaf. If a person cann change the pitch of their voice, even in normal speech, they are probably not tone deaf but just have never trained their ear with their vocal chords and can eventually be taught to match pitch and sing. I believed Dr. Pagan and found out over my 37 years of teaching, 27 of which were in a very small town, that he was right. I had many kids who signed up for choir whom I patiently worked with and eventually they were able to match pitch and become a valuable part of the group. I remenber specifically one high school boy who signed up as a freshmen and for some reason continued to sign up year after year until, as a Senior, finally learned to sing with acurate pitch! I was often tempted to give up and tell him not to take choir, but he was gaining something from the class and I'm glad I took Dr. Pagan's advice and continue to work with him and many others over the years. By the way there are audio test available from specialist that can dertermine the very small minority of people who truly cannot hear or produce different pitches. 
Blessings on your effort to work with those so called "tone dear" persobns.
Jan Tuin
Applauded by an audience of 8
on June 20, 2013 4:52am
While I can't speak with scientific authority, I do not believe there is actually a tone deaf state. The spatial equivalent comparison would be calling someone who can't shoot baskets with any accuracy a sight impaired individual. 
Singing frequencies accurately can be easily compared to shooting hoops. It is a matter of understanding the spatial "distance" of the target (aural/dimensional) and coordinating the apparatus to "reach" the target.  The distinct advantages basketball players have are: 1) they can see the physical movement of their active muscles involved, 2) not all basketball players are expected to be phenomenal three point shooters, and 3) 85% is a great accuracy rate in basketball, but still awful in a choir. 

How long depends it takes someone to reach the coordinated state of singing is dependent on many things. For most it is a matter of explaining the process, getting them to "siren" into their head or mixed voice (though labeling passagi can be detrimental), and giving them some exercises to practice at home. For others it may be something that can be best corrected through occupational voice therapy (though this is rare). 

Those that we tend to call "tone deaf" are simply those who did not have the experience or opportunity to keep the neural pathways for frequency reproduction open in childhood. We tend to call this musical aptitude, which in a way is accurate, but tends to lean towards an attitude of haves and have nots. Studies have shown that nearly all have the aptitude to discriminate pitch as infants, but only those with experiential opportunity obtain/retain the skill set for singing. The aptitude is still there, it is just latent. 

The best way to proceed is to be kind and honest. If you make it about the information and not the person (avoid saying you can't sing in tune), you're on your way. I often say "your toes are on the three point line but you're shooting free-throws." Getting them to freely "shoot" (in an energetic but relaxed manner) without so much pressure of hitting or missing is paramount. Getting close is success for the singer, even if it is lousy for the choir (lots of individual attention is needed). 

Truth be told, pitch is a construct we've made up. If I'm learning Mandarin Chinese (a tonal language), you'd better believe that my accuracy level is going to stink at first! But it doesn't mean I'm language deaf and stick to English. It's a matter of reopening those pathways, and building muscle coordination through proper exercise and practice. 

So the short answer is... It depends on the individual!

Best of luck!
Garrett
---
Sent from my iPhone
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 20, 2013 5:29am
I have known three tone deaf people in my life.  One could recognise tunes and pitches enough to "sing a tune," she was just incapable of staying in tune when singing alone a capella.  She would be significantly flat or sharp after about five notes.  But she loved to sing, was aware of her pitch issues, and it wasn't noticeable in a large group of singers.  Everyone else kept her on pitch.  She just couldn't keep a tone center on her own.  For her, a large community chorus, even one that performed very challenging music, was perfect.  She was an excellent musician in all other ways and very enthusiastic.  
 
The other two people were much more severly tone deaf.  They could not recognise or remember melodic intervals.  Neither of them would be able to sing you a reasonable approximation of "Happy Birthday."  They could recognise and remember rhythms, but not melodies or harmonies.  Some part of their brains just couldn't do it.  Even with you singing along with them, they could not sing "Happy Birthday," but the rhythm would be correct.  Interestingly, both of them loved music.  For them, a different instrument makes much more sense.  Piano, for instance.  Something where the performer needs to be able to read music and play well, but there is no question of tuning or remembering a sequence of pitches to form a melody.  Read the music... the music says play a G... this key is G, so I will play it...  
 
It depends how tone deaf your singer is, but this is not something that will get better with practice.  Whatever you do, you will need to approach them delicately so that you don't hurt their feelings.  If there is any way to keep them involved musically, just not as a singer, I think that would be best.  Do you need a drummer?  But if that is not possible, then, yes, to ask them to volunteer is also a good idea.  
 
It is all a question of people's talents.  I am terribly uncoordinated, so although I practiced and practiced, I never got any better as a violinist.  But I have a good ear, so for me, singing is perfect.  For this person, something else may be perfect.  Help them find the right instrument.  
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 20, 2013 7:02am
Just because someone doesn't have complete control of his/her vocal mechanism, doesn't always mean he/she is tone deaf. It's a skill that takes a little time. If that person can tell the difference between high and low pitches, start there. "Matching pitch" isin't something that many people are familiar with: if someone is having trouble with the concept, try matching that person first, to show them what it feels like. Just like pressing a key on a piano, there is a physical process for matching pitch that involves breath, placement, and vowel shape. For you it will take patience, but the payoff is huge. Good luck.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on June 20, 2013 10:08am
The question you ask is one that is faced by many choral directors, especially those who work with non-auditioned church or community choruses.  
 
I work with a group of seniors -- a small choir of about 30 people, average age about 85 -- some of whom have never sung in a choir before.  I've faced this issue several times, especially in new singers, so I've done a bit of research on the topic.  I've also developed my own "system" that seems to work with this group.  This is a long message, but perhaps you'll find some of this helpful.
 
From what I've found, very few people are truly "tone deaf."  There IS a neurologic condition in which the arcuate fasciculus -- the bundle of nerves in the brain that relays signals concerning the perception of sound to the other parts of the brain related to reproducing that sound -- is faulty -- and the result is "true" tone deafness.
 
But most people who exhibit what we think of as "tone deafness" have not learned how it sounds/feels to sing on pitch.  OR they may have hearing problems that make it difficult or impossible to hear both externally produced pitches (i.e. from a piano) and internally produced pitches (their own voices).  At this point, I want to be clear that I'm NOT talking about people who singing slightly under or over the pitch -- that's a different problem altogether.  I'm talking about people who are missing the pitch by a wide margin.
 
So the first step in "fixing" tone deafness is to determine the cause.  If the individual is someone who is truly "tone deaf" (with the neurological condition), then there's unfortunately no remedy.  If the problem is hearing, then that needs to be addressed first.
 
One quick test I do with my singers who are having difficulty matching pitch is to play two notes on the piano, and ask if they're the same or different.  I usually start with a fairly wide interval (more than an octave), and then vary it including some "pairs" where the I play the same note twice.  I don't ask which pitch is lower/higher -- just if they're the same or different.  If the singer can correctly identify difference/sameness most of the time then we're on the right track.  This means they can HEAR, and the brain is distinguishing pitch difference.
 
The next step is to help them experience what singing "on pitch" sounds/feels like.  For this, I ask the singer to sing on an "oo" vowel -- any pitch that is comfortable.  At this point, I'm not asking them to MATCH -- I just want them to produce a tone.  Then I sing with them on the pitch they selected, in tune, and also play the pitch on the piano.  If the singer is singing outside my range, I just play their note on the piano without singing it myself, but always matching the singers pitch in terms of octave.  We repeat this a few times: they sing a pitch, and I match it.  
 
Then we do a similar series, except that after I match them, I start to vary the pitch, moving sharp or flat by as much as a third, and then ask them if they noticed any difference.  In 90% of the cases, they do -- and we're another step closer. I don't ask who is "right" or "wrong" -- just that they can recognize there's a difference.
 
Next step:  I have the singer sing a tone, I match it on the piano.  Then I play the pitch on the piano, and ask them to match it (it's the pitch they just sang).  We may need to do this a few times, but again, in most cases, they begin to match consistently.  I then play a DIFFERENT pitch on the piano and see if they can match it.  Once they can do this fairly consistently, we move on.
 
From here, I use a number of other "exercises" -- I sing a pitch, they match, then I move up or down and see if they can follow; I sing a short melody, asking them to sing it back to me; I play a short sequence of tones on the piano and ask them to reproduce it.  
 
Each singer is different, and the amount of time and number of repetitions varies.  Also, this type of singer usually needs to learn what to do when the vocal line exceeds his/her range -- I've found that some "off-pitch" signing occurs because the singer is attempting to match a pitch that they simply cannot produce.  My older singers often have vary narrow ranges -- about an octave in many cases -- so we work out how to cope with music that exceeds that range.
 
I've had a "tone deaf" singer who was able to start matching pitches consistently within two 30-minute "lessons" -- and others who took several weeks to begin to get it.  I've used this with 14 singers in the past 5 years; all but one learned to sing on pitch consistently.  The one who still has some difficulty has an extremely narrow range (about a fifth), and navigating vocal lines that exceed that is a constant challenge.  We're still working on that.
 
So don't give up -- in most cases, in my experience, you CAN help "tone deaf" singers learn to sing on pitch. 
Applauded by an audience of 7
on June 20, 2013 12:52pm
I am very sceptical about "tone deafness" as a starting point, especially in men.  You do not mention the age of the man in question but this lack of pitch sensitivity may be attributed to the fact that he never sang during or after puberty: he simply doesn't know where to put the tone. Below is from Choralnet archives. If you take your singer through this, you will discover where his voice is--at some point, the voice is the place. After finding the place, then the voice can develop.
 
The current Toyota car commercial may also give your singer some clues: here is how.
  The customer comes to the desk and says he wants a vehicle with "hooo" notice how focused his tone is. And how unfocused the reply is from the "secretary" versus how focused and on pitch her final hooo is. THAT is singing. That is placement. See if your singer can emulate that hooo or hello or argggg (like a mean, nasty pirate) and listen to the result.
 
 
My audition process for incoming 9th grade men (first I always call them
men or, better, gentlemen) is very simple but extremely revealing for me
and comforting for the guys. I ask each guy to count backwards from
twenty. As they settle into the mindless pattern their voices settle into
a "chanting tone" which is quite predictive of their stage of maturation.
If the singer chants at g below middle C his voice is unchanged. He
might even have a big range similar to a female's.
If the chanting tone is e or f below, the voice is beginning to change, 
some of the unchanged range may remain for a while but soon the notes from
bass clef 4th space up may simply dissappear for a while until the voice
has settled to between second line b to third line d. Little by little the
"whole" fills in. Young tenors may chant at second line b for a while
while Young Baritones will finally settle to bottom line g, the voices
will then be fairly intact and ready to develop.
Older tenors may chant at low g as well.
I keep these guys because I have take the mystery, fear and embarassment
from the vocal and physical change. They become more patient and expectly
wait for that chanting to go down. I even chart their progress.
I also do short phrase memory in their range and vocalizes to the
extremeties of their range and suggest the extent to which their ranges
will increase when IT happens.
The result, and I keep my fingers crossed, is that I have more male
voices than women in my large mixed choir and I have had for several years
running. Yes, some guys leave after they had received the credit, but many
stay and grow because they love the things that a choir provides.
S
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 21, 2013 11:24am
Bravo, Lana and Heather. Your replies are excellent.  With older children and adults, I would certainly give credence to Lana's comments.  As I understand from older research, and verified through 42 years of teaching, each ear has approximately 35,000 little hair-like fibers which are really "nerve endings." They operate using sympathetic vibration.  All "fibers" will be affected by some vibrations but not by all vibrations.  If no vibration affects any of the fibers, total tone deafness is among the results.  Naturally, there are varying degrees of tone deafness.  Now let us consider those nerves that are active.  First, consider a how a baby, sitting in a high chair reaches for its bottle. It first uses its shoulder to try and reach and grab the bottle.  Your fibers will reach in similar fashion.  Where the bottle is knocked over by the shoulder, too many fibers "reach" for the note and matching of pitch is unsuccessful.  The baby fine tunes its maneuver as it reaches next with its elbow.  The ear nerves, with stronger reactions to the stimulus, reach for the note.  The bottle is knocked over and, although the pitch is closer, the matching of pitch remains unsuccessful.  More fine tuning is accomplished and the baby reaches with its wrist.  In parallel, fewer ear nerves reach for the note.  Matching of pitch is closer but still not quite correct: a minor third off perhaps.  The baby then reaches and grabs with its palm and no thumb, then, more finely, its palm and thumb, then with four fingers and thumb, then three fingers and thumb, et cetera.  Your ear nerves are likewise becoming more selective.  While the baby's gross motor nerves were maturing, so the ear's nerves need to mature.  Some of us swing a golf club much better than others.  It is not that we cannot swing correctly; it is that the nerves must be trained and matured to operate the body for a more correct swing.  Eventually, successful matching of pitches is achieved.  Eventually the golf ball travels straight.  My first school of 850 students ES (K-6) contained nearly 400 monotones.  After one year later, there were two.  The next year there was one.  While we varied the other songs, we constantly sang one particular song in order to help the nerves mature.  This procedure seemed to work for all in grades 4, 5, and 6 and most, but not all, in the lower grades.   In order to cause more maturation, and with the classroom teacher in the room with me, I faced toward the child and placed my cheekbone against the child's cheekbone.  And we would try matching pitches.  The sound would travel from my mouth, et al, into my cheekbone, into their cheekbone and into their three ear bones, et al.  The remaining 30 (approximate) students matched pitches with the exception of the two, then the one...and then success.  I can assume that several factors caused the child to match pitches, but one surely must have been the procedure.  Know your clientele and know your surroundings.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 22, 2013 3:25am
I so rarely hear this term any more and look forward to the day when it's never used at all, especially in the field of music!
 
in my career straddling the fields of music education and speech/language therapy, I actually did have one student about 15 years ago who had significant difficulty with pitch matching, and even he responded to pitch training enough to sing in unison with his peers after a year of instruction.
 
Kodaly techniques are my method of choice, and when applied to a whole group, the faltering pitch matcher can be helped without being singled out.
 
The single serious struggler I ever had also had a reasonably severe auditory processing difficulty, but the day he could accurately repeat my 5 note phrase after hearing me sing it was a joy for us both.
 
If someone has presented himself to participate in a choral group encircle him with strong singers, do a brief (2 minute) pitch matching drill during each warm-up, and watch who becomes one of your most loyal choristers. And please don't ever use the T-D descriptive. There is just not much better than watching someone who struggles finally catch on and become part of the music.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 22, 2013 5:20am
Fascinating, thank you everyone!! My ex was "tone deaf" - when he had his Army physical they discovered he couldn't hear outside a certain range of notes, and couldn't differentiate amongst the notes. His speaking voice was monotone (did I mention the word ex? LOL) He was the first person (and perhaps only) with this problem - he LOVE country music (the words and the rhythm), but anything classical was beyond his hearing. ("Boring")

Speaking of pitch memory, I also have a sister who can't match pitch. Perhaps had she had one of you teachers above, she'd be able to carry a melody today - as she loves (ed?) to sing (she is in her eary 70's and in Australia, so I don't know if she still sings). Unfortunately, for me, she taught me "White Coral Bells" when I was very, very young and while  KNOW from looking at the music, it is very simple... I can only hear the way she sang it - rather atonal. LOL!
 
Another great discussion.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 22, 2013 10:38am
Many years ago I attended a workshop that included a session about getting kids to match pitch.  The presenter worked with a group of about 8 elementary/middle school-aged children of the workshop attendees (unknown to the presenter), including one hearing-impaired girl.  The presenter said young kids often sing far off pitch in order to hear themselves; when they match the group, their voice blends and "disappears" from their own (untrained) hearing. 
 
She began by having each kid in turn sing back pitches/phrases she sang to them.  Three (including the hearing impaired child) were nowhere near matching.  She then took out a 2 or 3 foot long piece of corrugated plastic tubing (pool hose, available in most hardware stores) and worked with each child, first putting one end of the tube up to the child's ear, and singing a pitch/phrase softly into the other end, and then having the child sing into that end (effectively singing into their own ear).   At first she adjusted her second pitch to be close to the one the child first produced, then gradually moved the pitches into a broader range.  Within a minute or two, she had ALL the children (even the legally deaf girl) matching various pitches.
 
This technique might provide an "aha" moment for an adult learning to sing in a group, if they're receptive to some one-on-one work.
 
Robin Leary
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 27, 2013 3:57pm
As a choral conductor, there have been a few uncertain singers along the way.  As a voice teacher, there have been only a very few uncertain singers in my studio.  However, many years ago one voice student came to me for "help."  Her story is quite interesting, and I learned a great deal about how to help such a voice become an acceptable singer.
 
The student, whom I shall call Joy, came to me after completing a BA in Theater.  She is a fine actress, especially Shakespearean drama.  She had expressed her desire to be able to be cast in a role that would require the character to sing on stage.  However, matching pitch was not something she could do on a consistent basis.
 
During the first year of study, Joy was able to match pitch between space-below-the-staff D and 3rd space C.  Slowly she began to develop that ability.  It was easier for her to match my voice, rather the the piano.  As her vocal technic began to improve, more notes began to be added to her vocal range.  Discovering head voice, of course, helped.  As we worked to improve her sight reading ability, I would play her melodies onto tape recording, and separately the accompaniment, so she would have something to practice with.  (Obviously this story occurred in the 1970s!)  Eventually she had become proficient enough to learn the melodies on her own.
 
In the third year, as the vocal range was growing, a lovely voice with a natural vibrato began to develop.
Because Joy was now reading music well, and because she had gained confidence in singing, she and I agreed that she could begin to learn the vocal line on her own, without the help of the taped melody.  Now---here is the "Ah Ha" moment.  I gave her a pitch pipe so she would be able to make sure of correct pitches.  Sitting on my sofa, she blew into the pitch pipe to determine the starting pitch for a song.  The pitch that she sang was not the pitch she had blown on the pitch pipe, but a 4th below that pitch!  I asked her to play another pitch and sing what she heard.  Again--a 4th below!  She was hearing the 2nd overtone stronger than the fundamental!  No wonder she had had difficulty matching pitch!  Of course, the purity of the tone of the pitch pipe simply magnified the overtones.  Interestingly, we had never experienced that phenomenon when she matched pitch either from my voice or from the piano.
 
Joy's own self discipline enabled her, after a thorough vocal warmup, to spend the entire remainder of the lesson on, perhaps, only one phrase, wanting every aspect to be as right as possible.  After several more years of vocal study, Joy did realize her dream!  With a local theater company, she was cast as Amanda in Private Lives by Noel Coward,  and-------ON STAGE---- sang   Someday I'll Find You   !!!!!!!!!!!!  A real success story!
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 28, 2013 11:55am
The term "tone deaf" is an incorrect term. We all can hear tones in spoken communication and note the difference in meaning related to how people use the pitch of our spoken voices.
 
Rather, consider terms such as "uncertain singer", "developing singer", etc.
 
I have worked with youth through retirees including incarcerated singers who have never stepped foot in a choir rehearsal to teach them the process of singing with others. Here are the basic steps that I have found successful:
1) POSITIVE ATTITUDE -- on both learner and instructor: Singign is a LEARNED skill, not a talent one is born with (this point is VITAL if we are going to encourage choral singing programs in public schools. Too many people do not realize we can all learn to sing)
2) Effective standing alignment
3) Full deep breaths
4) Phonation and holding one sung pitch--this in itself is a key point to singing
5) then you match the developing singer's pitch so he or she can hear the match
6) play around with echoing familiar melodic phrases
7) above all- encourage, emphasize strength-based progress, and end with success
 
HAVE FUN and best wishes!
Mary Cohen
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 29, 2013 1:40pm
Try using some sort of oscilliscope where you can see an electrical picture of pitches as they are produced on an instrument or voice,  and see if the novice singer can reproduce the music so that it matches the graph. Recording a voice and playing it back is an excellent way to make a performer aware of what he sounds like..Joyce Levy , Retired Music Teacher
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 5, 2013 3:06pm
 
 
I was glad to see this very worthwhile 'tone deaf' thread, and YES, Angel, there is definitely hope for most people labeled "tone deaf"!! It may require a lot of time and work, but being able to sing in tune with other people is very much worth the effort (of course, depending on how badly a person wants to be able to sing).
 
For many years, my mother was the music supervisor in a large elementary school district in California. From time to time she would comment on classroom teachers relating stories from their childhood/youth when they were told not to sing, to hold the door while the choir members went on/off stage, that they were 'tone deaf', etc. She commented once that there must be a special purgatory for anyone who told a person that he/she was 'tone deaf'/could not sing...
 
Some of my greatest joys in music teaching have been seeing the progress that 'tone deaf' people made so that they too could experience the joy that participation in a choir can bring. Unfortunately, most people deemed 'tone deaf' seem to have identified with that label and won't even try. I wish I had known many years earlier that the label 'tone deaf' was being misapplied to people who were really 'uncertain singers' or who had 'un- or under-developed ears (listening skills).'
 
I'd like to share four of my experiences working with people who 'could not sing'.
 
My first story is of a man who joined the church choir I was directing. I was regularly getting complaints from the other basses if he sat next to them in rehearsal so I offered to work with him one-on-one. I learned that he was truly, physically deaf in one ear. His then musician wife informed me that 'top university people' had declared him 'tone deaf' (thus I was wasting my time...). I learned right away that *I* had to match to *him*. A lot of very good progress was made but before long he moved away, thus ending our sessions. He went on to become a minister and I later got a joyful note from him letting me know that he was now the cantor in his church. (I'm assuming he would not have been allowed to do that unless he was doing it at least halfway decently.)
 
My second story is of a man whose family made fun of him when he tried to sing. Again he joined the church choir (that deep desire for self-expression through music). He was willing to work with me and again progress was made. He even sang in our annual Messiah presentations. Sometime after his wife died, he married one of the altos in the choir.  In time they moved away but over the years I received several Christmas cards letting me know they were both singing in their church choir and the local Messiah performances and getting great joy from the experiences. (A family that sings together....)
 
My third story is of a high school junior, again male. For some reason he decided he wanted to sing, I guess he thought singing was 'cool.'  He shared his wish to sing with his step-father, who, knowing I directed a church choir, asked if I would be willing to work with hm. When we started he could not match any pitch, so I matched HIS pitch. As I recall, his attempts to match were not random but always a certain interval off. (Don't remember what interval.) Within the course of ONE HOUR, he was singing a range of a tenth and could sing a C scale from second space bass clef to the E above middle C really quite well in tune and with a very pleasant tone quality. This was a young man who had a lot of ear infections as a child AND at the time he should have been developing pitch listening skills, his parents were going through an especially vitriolic divorce. My guess is that he literally turned off his hearing during that crucial time. What happened to him? I don't know. Either he got enough to do what he wanted to do or he decided it was too much work as I did not see him again. Still, in that short time we seemed to unlock the mystery of matching pitches and using the voice to sing as well as to speak.
 
My last story is of a young woman in her late teens. No label was put on her, to my knowledge, however, any song she sang was unrecognizable. Here's where I made an interesting discovery which makes me wonder how many others labeled 'tone deaf' fall into this same category: she had a usable range of six notes -- B below middle C to G above middle C. So, if she tried to sing anything which went out of that range, it just was not there. I searched for many songs with a range of a sixth and transposed them to fit her range. As long as the songs were in 'her' range, she did very well. We then also worked on matching pitches which has improved immensely. We have met perhaps 20 times in the past year. I was delighted about 3 sessions ago that she actually sang up to fifth line F treble clef when we vocalized! It was like something was suddenly unlocked, something clicked for her. Her usable range is now from C to C and I look forward to much more improvement this year.
 
There appear to be many potential reasons why a person never learned to 'match pitch'/sing -- possibly more related to listening than to producing sounds. I would never -- now -- accept a label of 'tone deaf' -- unless there was a documented physical reason for that label. IMO it is never too late for a person to learn to sing. No one should be denied the fun, satisfaction, and pure joy which one can experience when singing -- especially with other people. AND we should not place time limits on how long it 'should' take. For some people, it may click right away while for others it may take years. To each in his/her own time.
 
Carol Faust
Oakdale, CA
 
 
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