Hoffman Academy Blog

Am I Tone Deaf?


Am I Tone Deaf?

Being tone deaf would mean you can’t recognize differences in pitch. Lots of people think they are tone deaf when they can’t sing on key, or can’t tell if another person is singing off-key. If you were actually tone deaf, you would have something called Amusia. This is a permanent impairment of music perception, but it’s extremely rare. Hearing differences in pitch is a skill that takes time, and with some practice, you may surprise yourself. Here are some simple exercises to help develop your sense of pitch.

  1. Start with one note in the middle of the piano. Play it once. Then play another note higher or lower. Start with big intervals. Take a moment to hear the difference. Remember, if you’re truly tone deaf, you won’t be able to tell the difference. Keep going. Make them smaller. The closer they are in distance, the harder it is to tell. Really Listen!
  2. Once you have done this enough, have a friend “quiz” you. Face away from the piano while they play one note at a time. Your job is to identify if a pitch is lower or higher than the one played before. Tell your friend they can even play the same note twice in a row. If you get it wrong, don’t worry – keep trying! You can later challenge yourself by playing several notes in a row, and drawing the shape of the melody. If the notes go up, draw a line going up, if the notes go down, draw a line going down. If the notes go up, then down, draw it!
  3. Sing it yourself! You may be able to recognize pitch, but still have a hard time singing the right pitch. This isn’t being tone deaf – singing is a skill that can be learned. Let’s get comfortable with our high and low voice to make it easier to match high and low pitches! First experiment with highs and lows in your voice. Sing or speak up high like a chipmunk to see how high your voice can go. Sing or speak down low like a troll to see how low your voice can go. Then try sliding your voice up from the low troll voice to the high chipmunk voice and back down.

If you’re looking for more ear training, Hoffman Academy is a great place to start. We learn our songs by listening and singing first, then we put the songs on piano. Just know that, like any skill, it takes time and patience! Good luck!

Further Reading:

Developing A Musical Ear

Using the Listening Album

Singing For Musical Development

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