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Why can't I sing in tune?

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Jim Carroll 02 Apr 13 - 09:19 AM
Sanjay Sircar 02 Apr 13 - 05:16 AM
Sanjay Sircar 02 Apr 13 - 05:08 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Apr 13 - 04:07 AM
ripov 01 Apr 13 - 07:26 PM
Stanron 01 Apr 13 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 01 Apr 13 - 04:25 PM
Stringsinger 01 Apr 13 - 10:37 AM
Stanron 01 Apr 13 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 01 Apr 13 - 07:26 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Apr 13 - 02:47 AM
Stanron 31 Mar 13 - 09:58 PM
Stanron 31 Mar 13 - 09:25 PM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 31 Mar 13 - 06:50 PM
Stanron 31 Mar 13 - 05:12 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Mar 13 - 02:51 PM
Stringsinger 31 Mar 13 - 11:29 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Mar 13 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,B0987 31 Mar 13 - 12:02 AM
paula t 02 Nov 11 - 06:04 PM
foggers 02 Nov 11 - 04:54 PM
paula t 02 Nov 11 - 03:07 PM
paula t 02 Nov 11 - 03:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Nov 11 - 10:53 AM
Crowhugger 01 Nov 11 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Nov 11 - 11:20 AM
Crowhugger 31 Oct 11 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 31 Oct 11 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Oct 11 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Vicki Kelsey 30 Oct 11 - 09:48 PM
Crowhugger 30 Oct 11 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Oct 11 - 07:57 PM
foggers 30 Oct 11 - 06:46 PM
John P 30 Oct 11 - 10:31 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 30 Oct 11 - 10:14 AM
foggers 30 Oct 11 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Oct 11 - 11:04 AM
John P 29 Oct 11 - 10:53 AM
foggers 29 Oct 11 - 07:10 AM
paula t 28 Oct 11 - 08:16 PM
John P 28 Oct 11 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Wolverine 28 Oct 11 - 07:08 PM
Often 28 Oct 11 - 06:32 PM
tonyteach1 28 Oct 11 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 28 Oct 11 - 04:37 PM
foggers 28 Oct 11 - 04:10 PM
John P 28 Oct 11 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Oct 11 - 03:09 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 28 Oct 11 - 01:34 PM
Roger the Skiffler 28 Oct 11 - 04:59 AM
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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Apr 13 - 09:19 AM

"It is standard practice in South Asian classical music public recitals that the singer cups their ear or places the hand flat over it. I has no "folkie" or gauche connotation there at all."
Thank you Sanjay - this needs to be said as often as possible.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Sanjay Sircar
Date: 02 Apr 13 - 05:16 AM

Somewhat off-topic, but I could not fina more relevant thread. Thee is a music-hall song, "I'm Tone Deaf" in which a diva confesses that she cannot sing a note much less carry a tune, that she is entirely carried by the accompanist, and in which she ends by identifying notes all wrong "A B H", or similar.

I saw it done on a UK TV program, imitation music hall, which used to start and end with "Down bythe Old Bull and Bush", in the 1980s. I suppose the challenge for the singer is to "get it wrong" consistently. The words and music of the song would be good to have. Doesanybody here know it?

Sanjay Sircar


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Sanjay Sircar
Date: 02 Apr 13 - 05:08 AM

RE: Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Greyeyes - PM
Date: 09 Jan 01 - 05:43 PM
There is also the element of hearing the tune as you sing it, not just recognising the tune you are trying to sing (if you see what I mean). This is why so many unacompanied folkies sing with a finger in the ear. Even though everyone thinks it looks risible, it helps you hear the sound that you are actually producing, and thus makes it more likely that you will hit the right note.

31 Jul 04 - 11:41 AM
An ear plug or two. Seriously, try plugging one ear with a finger while you're singing and see how well you can hear your own voice. If the band's loud enough, you ought to be able to hear them through the plug(s).

AND re: 02 Aug 04 - 12:47 AM

My husband could not sing in tune, but could tell when an instrument or another voice was out of tune. We eventually worked out that when he tryed to sing he mostly listened to himself, not through the air, but through the bones of his head, and they were "out of tune".
By doing the classic folkie, cupping his hand round his ear, he created a stronged passage for sound through air and could hear himself properly, and so learned to sing in tune, but it always felt to him, as if he were singing flat.

--- It is standard practice in South Asian classical music pubilc recitals that the singer cups their ear or places the hand flat over it. I has no "folkie" or gauche connottion there at all.

Sanjay Sircar


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Apr 13 - 04:07 AM

"must sing with one's own natural voice"
No, no, no! There is no "must" about it.
The most grossly unfair accusation aimed at MacColl and the Critics Group was that there was ever any "must" about what we did.
The logic was simple - to use the voice fully you needed to explore it in order to understand its limitations and its abilities - to understand is to control.
If you don't agree with anything I claim in the above (31 Mar 13 - 02:51 PM) - fine, let's discuss it, but it's a red herring to say that you "must" do anything.
To find your basic 'natural' sound is a starting point in learning how your individual voice is produced; once you have that you can experiment in pushing out the barriers.
An example: one of the greatest problems I believe to have haunted the folk scene (for me at least) is the tendency of some women singers to sing entirely in "head voice", the air-filled 'little girl' voice that is favoured by so many.
Whatever I may or may not think about it aesthetically is not the point; personally I find it either limits the singer to one type of song or levels all songs to a sometimes inappropriate delivery that simply doesn't fit the emotions of some.
But the main problems with it are technical ones; the main one being that fact that this sound takes up twice the amount of air to produce, thus limiting the length of line the singer can handle - not so long ago I heard a head voice singer performing Barbara Allen and being forced to take a breath after every four words, thus making nonsense of the narrative.
If that is the desired sound a singer wants to produce she must learn to cope with the breathing in other ways - I know a few singers who have.
One of the most skilful singers in the Group once experimented with that spectacular 'Throat Singing' - producing the sound from the throat and through the nose at the same time. I don't think he ever mastered it but he is still the most skilful singer I know and can still take my breath away with his singing.
Working on a song falls into two parts, technique and interpretation through understanding and feeling - a balance of the two makes for good, emotional singing as far as I'm concerned.
For me, the voice is a toolbox full of a number of delicate and intricate tools which need to be kept clean, sharp and in good shape. If you want to use them to hang pictures - fine, but if you want use them to paint pictures, that requires a little more work.
Sorry if this has become a bit complicated - never really tried to express it in print before - anyway, the musicians here talking about pitching technicalities lost me way back.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: ripov
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 07:26 PM

Having read nearly all of this thread I thought " no-one's mentioned temperament yet". But I was pipped at the post by Stanron.

This is something that interests me as a fiddler, because I know that in some keys "properly" tuned strings sound way out of tune (which is why "classical" fiddlers use 4th finger instead - and which may account for the "folky" sound of open strings ). Fiddles are normally tuned in perfect fifths, like melodeons, so are intrinsically out of tune with guitars, keyboards of all sorts, and tuners that only show equal temperament; maybe one of the reasons that early musicians didn't like different sorts of instrument playing together (and orchestral string players find accompanying parts to piano concertos unpleasant).

I think that what we normally do if accompanied is to play in "just" temperament, but pitched from an equally tempered bass note, and I suspect singers do much the same.
What do you think? And does it matter after several pints?

Interesting that tuners are mentioned. Surely (except in amplified bands) they are only necessary for people who can't hear if they are in tune or not (and possibly players new to the instrument). And they don't provide the experience of "being in tune" because they (mostly) don't play a note which must be matched.

As many have said here, careful listening along with practice is essential. In the olden days (as my kids say) a tutor would hear a student tune his instrument (probably to a piano), take it from him, put it out of tune, then return it to be tuned again, several times, during the earliest lessons, because hearing "in tune" is basic to musicianship, but requires training.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stanron
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 06:49 PM

Ah, is it becoming personal? I wonder if you have already guessed that the 'unsinger', as you rather cruelly describe it, is myself.

I have some problem with my hearing. Without using earphones, a note that sounds in tune when I sing it proves to be out of tune when I listen to a recording of it.

There's a bit in my first post that suggests why. (31 Mar 05:12PM)

The needle bit is, I admit, misleading. It's been years and years since I had a tuner with a needle. They always broke. My preferred tuner has a wide arc of leds. Red to the left, red to the right and a single green spot in the center (a bit like politics in Manchester). This is much more stable than the old analogue tuners. I have seen an application for a mobile phone which looks like the old analogue tuners but has the modern, digital stability.

Once the problem was identified I roped in the tuner as an independent witness. With practice it got better. Not perfect but better. Hearing something I have done for many years, and not without success, described as impossible is just a bit irritating.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 04:25 PM

I'm trying to imagine what kind of unsinger can consistently hit within a semitone but can't tune in to a reference pitch. Have you ever actually worked with someone like this?

When you sing into a tuner, the needle goes all over the place. You literally have no control over what it does. It's a complete waste of time. I'll bet there are very few people on this forum, no matter how skilled, who can hit a note and then consistently move their pitch up or down a few cents by watching the needle.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 10:37 AM

Jim, for the sake of discussion, your comment reinforces the idea that one must sing with one's own natural voice and to do otherwise brings in another element, you could do harm to your vocal mechanism if you didn't. A good voice teacher's chief job is to bring out the student's own natural vocal apparatus and a lot of time could be wasted attempting to emulate another singer.

Regarding pitch, when one is singing correctly, ie: with the proper use of their own vocal apparatus, pitch in improved considerably. Any straining for vocal effect used improperly will result in poor pitch.

Shouting unnecessarily can injure the voice without good breath support.

But I think from what you mentioned, you understand this already.

An analogy would be trying to make an oboe sound like a clarinet. It's futile.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stanron
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 08:30 AM

Are we on the same planet?
Play a D. Try to sing a D. The tuner indicates your accuracy.

This can work when your inaccuracy is within a semi tone. If you are a fourth or fifth out of tune that is a whole different issue and suggests something more serious than lazy listening.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 07:26 AM

Stanron, my point is that if you're needing to do this exercise, a tuner is no use to you. You play a G and sing out a D on the tuner....that's meaningless to someone with no control over their vocal chords.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Apr 13 - 02:47 AM

In the end it boils down to whether you want to 'sing' or whether you want to be 'a singer'.
I believe the vast majority of people can 'sing' if they put their mind to it and become aware of the mechanics of producing and controling their voice.
To use the voice to a fuller extent in order to handle all types of song with any degree of control and skill requires thoughtful practice.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stanron
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 09:58 PM

A footnote could be that I am aware of the relevance of temperament to this issue but as the guitar is an equal temperament instrument and the tuner measures equal temperament notes it kind of cancels itself out as an issue.

Unaccompanied voices can attain just temperament harmonies and sound ever so sweet but that requires a voice which sings in tune. Isn't that where this circle began?


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stanron
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 09:25 PM

I suppose, bearing in mind the prefix to my last post, that I shouldn't really complain about someone not reading mine, but I will.

Rev Bayes.

I wrote;

"
Play a note on the guitar and see where the needle goes.
Sing the same note and see where the needle goes.
"

If this is not

"
match single notes
"

or

"
recognise and key into a reference note
"

what on earth is?

The possibility of tears is not denied and is in fact the reason for the warning. It scared the hell out of me when I first tried it but I eventually improved. Others may wish to try.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 06:50 PM

Trying to use a tuner on your voice is a recipe for tears.

If you're *really* starting from scratch, you need to learn to match single notes. You can do this against an instrument but a better starting point is to find a willing victim, ideally of the same sex, and ask them to suffer it for your sake.

Once you've done that you can sit with a guitar or keyboard and try to match scales or arpeggios but that initial learning to recognise and key into a reference note is, well, key.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stanron
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 05:12 PM

Seeing that this thread started January 2001 I don't feel too guilty admitting I've not read it all but apologies if the following has already been said.

It is possible to teach yourself to sing. If you play guitar you probably have a guitar tuner. If it is an automatic digital tuner with a microphone it will identify any note and indicate how in tune it is. With such you could do this exercise.

WARNING

This is only for the brave!

Play a note on the guitar and see where the needle goes.
Sing the same note and see where the needle goes.

Try this with all the notes in your range and with different vowel sounds. A practice routine which incorporates this and singing various intervals can train not only your voice but also your ability to hear pitch. The following may also help.

We hear our own voice in two different ways. One is the normal variations in air pressure called, obviously, sound and the other way is internally through the structure of our bodies. This internal hearing 'filters' elements of sound and it is possible that what one person hears when singing is not the same as what others hear. I have a simple home recording set up and can use this to take sound from a microphone and play it back through headphones at sufficient volume to drown out internal hearing. Recordings show me to be more in tune this way.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 02:51 PM

"But Jim's dictum about sounding like yourself is tautological,"
Not really SS
Most people I know started to sing by imitating a singer whose singing attracted them, however far from their natural voice that singer might be.
One of the finest Irish singers I know based his singing on Paddy Tunney - it wasn't till years later and after much persuasion he eventually began to use his own natural voice.
It sounds as if GUEST,B0987 wants to sound like Elvis.
One of the other factors is that your 'natural' voice is quite often driven out by the environment you spend most of your time in - if you work in a steel foundry you shout to make yourself heard, and that's the voice you take home with you.
When I started to sing I was an apprentice for a ship-repair firm on the Liverpool docks so most of the time I shouted, when in fact my natural voice is quite soft and even.
My mate worked in an office, so he pitched his voice both in volume and tone to suit his working conditions.
When I joined the Critics Group I was given a series of voice exercises to enable me to explore my voice and to find where it was set naturally (physiologically)
It didn't mean that's the way I sang all the time - but it helped me increase my repertoire of pitches, tones, efforts ( a bit difficult to explain without giving examples)... etc, and so helped my handle songs ranging from lullabies to shanties (sort of).
Must go - Foyle's War beckons - but more later if you're up for it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 11:29 AM

Singing in tune is not just a matter of ear-training but of the utility of the vocal apparatus.
Many singers flat or sharp when vocal problems arise.

I am not one to diss thirty-odd year deceased crooners, many such as Crosby, Russ Columbo, Dick Powell and female Jo Stafford or others of that era could sing extraordinarily well.

But Jim's dictum about sounding like yourself is tautological, but correct, since your voice is unique to you and can't sound like anyone else's.

I was in a commercial music business class and brought in recordings by Almeida Riddle and Horton Barker. There were hoots and catcalls telling me not everyone has the same impression of what good voices sound like. To these young kids, the trad singers sounded out of tune. Trad singers will often sing in "the cracks" reflecting early musical traditions from their respective folk cultures but to the untrained ear, sound out of tune.

Both Sinatra and Bennett, as well as Pete Seeger often sound out of tune in their later years but who cares? Their interpretations exceed their vocal technique.

Go for some good vocal training but more important, be wedded to the content of what you are singing sincerely and that will communicate.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 05:18 AM

"I love to sing, but I am terrible at it."
You're probably well able to sing, but you'd do far better if you tried to sound like yourself rather than a thirty-odd year deceased crooner.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Elvis
From: GUEST,B0987
Date: 31 Mar 13 - 12:02 AM

I love to sing, but I am terrible at it.   I've never had any coaching.   I particularly like Elvis.   I got some software, and recorded myself singing... again, cringe worthy.   I started monkeying with the software, reverb, key adjustment, speed... and played it back.   I sounded a lot like Elvis, and was pleased with the results, however fake they may be.   My question is this, and it may be a silly one... since this is my voice, although altered... Can I teach myself to do this for real?


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: paula t
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 06:04 PM

Thanks for your patience!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: foggers
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 04:54 PM

LOL Paula - my nickname "Foggers" is based on my surname "Foggin" and many folks get them both wrong, so I am quite happy to answer to "Foggy" too!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: paula t
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 03:07 PM

Foggers! Sorry...I typed your name incorrectly and submitted the comment withour checking. Oops! It sounds far too familiar. Sorry!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: paula t
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 03:05 PM

I've been away from the computer for a while, so I haven't read the latest comments until now. Sorry!
Hi Foggy,
Thankyou for your very positive comments. I think it is very important that children enjoy singing and discover and then value their own voice.Singing is so beneficial to lots of other aspects of learning too, IMHO.

Hi Crowhugger,
I absolutely agree that laughter and body movement are incredibly valuable tools. Singing is something to be enjoyed, not endured!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 10:53 AM

I see what you mean.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 11:39 AM

I know what you mean leeneia, I think "imitation" can't be taken too, too literally. After all some birds have two sets of vocal cords so what chance would one-set species like us have to match their sound precisely?

Still it's a great beginning approach! The act of freely warbling is incredibly valuable both to teach muscle awareness and to generate laughter. Laughter being immensely relaxing also creates a feeling of safety. Both are of utmost importance when working with beginning singers of any age but especially with adults, who tend to hold various amounts of fear and self-loathing toward their voices.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 11:20 AM

Thanks for the encouraging comment and the definition, Pete.

As a dedicated birdwatcher and birdlistener, I have my doubts about the birdsong theory. Bird sounds seem to come in two categories: the crude (crow) and the complicated (cardinal).


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 01:34 PM

Vicki, I expect you're right that copying bird-songs is less stressful than copying a melody. It quite effectively creates the safe place for voice experimentation.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 01:22 PM

i was told i could,nt sing and certainly i did,nt very tunefully ,but i kept at it and over the years i improve all the time till now i am mostly accepted as a singer.there were those that thought i was a no hoper but they were wrong.

ps-reception class in uk is the class when the littlies begin school.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 09:46 AM

Re: the woman who 'doesn't sing.' I don't wish to approach her about it. She doesn't seem to brood over it, and I doubt if she has any money for lessons. We'll just love her as she is.

To me, the most important thing in this thread is tonyteach's list of trivial problems for which people have been told they 'can't sing.' And they've been told that by others who don't know what they're talking about. It's sad to hear, but it's good to be warned.

If somebody tells you that you can't sing, respond with "And how do you know?"


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Vicki Kelsey
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 09:48 PM

I was talking to some friends who have been volunteering to work with people who've been told they are tone deaf. The say they have a lot of success with having them recreate bird song first. Maybe it takes the stress off because they can separate that from "singing".


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 09:15 PM

Yes, I too wonder what is a reception class?

Leeneia, I'd be interested to know if the woman in your church (mentioned in your post Oct 28 @ 3:09 p.m.) can sing the children's chant, "nyah, nyah-nyah, nyah nyah." If so I expect she can indeed learn to sing. It's not a scientific measure but it's a pretty good indicator.

Her best bet is of course a singing teacher who specializes in adult beginners. Do you have a rapport with her such that you would sing with her in a casual, non-lesson way? Sometimes a safe place is the best teacher. Unsafe places through life are a major cause of 1,2,3,5,6 & 7 of tonyteach1's list (27 Oct 2011, 12:27 PM)

paula t, for ear training the chorus I also used word omission/singing in the head--it's a fabulous tool that I swear by! The moderately experienced singers were quite challenged at first with hearing doh, head-singing up to fa then singing sol aloud. But (even without body part motions) amid much hilarity they got the hang of it quickly. Laughter and body movement are the two master tools for keeping anxiety out of learning to sing.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 07:57 PM

What is a reception class?


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: foggers
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 06:46 PM

Interesting point, John; I too know people who have good voices and have not had formal vocal training. However, going back to Paula's post I am guessing that some of her reception class pupils may turn out to have great voices as adults but would say they had never had any vocal training, because the seemingly fun singing games experienced at school probably are not recalled as having been "vocal training". So I would be inclined to scrutinise the claims of any brilliant singer who says they have had no vocal inputs; the inputs/stimuli may not have been recognised as pertinent to singing skills.

I fully accept that some folks get a head start in terms of what Mother Nature hands them; perhaps in attentive listening, accuracy of recall, vocal apparatus and reproduction of sounds etc. My position is that no talent is simply a case of either nature or nuture; it is always a complex interaction of both (neuroscience is opening whole worlds of understanding in this arena) and for each person the balance of that equation is different. So for any person who asks the question that is the title of this thread, the answer will be a different one and may be an unknowable one without some formal analysis.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: John P
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 10:31 AM

you want to take issue with my view that singing in tune is not an innate gift.

Foggers, the only reason I took exception to this statement was that I know LOTS of people who have never had any vocal training of any kind yet who sing beautifully. While knowing that the definition of "innate gift" might be unclear, I'd have to say that untrained people who can sing have one. Obviously, any such skill becomes immensely more finely honed with training and/or conscious practice.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 10:14 AM

I have an Uncle and a Sister-in-Law who could break glass, so off-tune do they sing. Neither of them think they're off tune though, hence the phrase 'tone-deaf'...

Simply an inability of the ears of some to pick up their own musical notes.

Mind you, in others it could be down to the fact of too many fingers in ears of course..... ;0)


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: foggers
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 10:10 AM

John P; having read your other posts I can understand why you want to take issue with my view that singing in tune is not an innate gift.

Of course a single sentence on a forum like this can convey a rather simplistic view. What I mean is that singing in tune is a multi-faceted learned skill; it is not simply something you got or you ain't.

It has many different components including hearing, perception of pitch produced, perception of the gap between that and the desired pitch and the motor skills in adjusting the vocal apparatus and hearing the effects etc; these are each a subset of skills that make up the over-arching skill of singing in tune. Underlying this is the neurology of learning and how the brain creates new synaptic connections, for each of these sub-skills and for connecting them together in sequence. One of the reasons I was so impressed with Paula's account of how she teaches singing at reception class level is that her system will introduce the children to all those sub-skills and stimulate their amazing little brains to build the necessary synaptic pathways to record and store these skills.

If singing in tune is therefore this quite complex equation of subskills that the brain needs to learn.it makes sense therefore that if someone has some specific neurological damage or deficit, any one of these sub-skills could be affected, and you suggest that this could be the case with you.

I am sorry if my apparently sweeping statement caused offence at all;that was not my intention.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 11:04 AM

Tonyteach wrote "Being a singer and singing teacher (which immediately arouses suspicion in folk person) I come across many people who have been told they cannot sing."

First, let me say that you don't arouse suspicioun in ME, and I'm a folk person. Get over the idea that all folkies have hay in their hair.

But my main point is that I'm shocked that people who don't know anything about singing would shoot off their moutha and shoot down another person's hopes. Tony's post shows that many times all the student needs is coaching about certain aspects of singing, such as breathing or not being tense. Yet some big mouth has sneered at them, "You can't sing!"

The empty barrel roars the loudest, as they say.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: John P
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 10:53 AM

I don't buy the notion that it is innate for some people at all

This doesn't pass the real world experience test.

I think you should never feel ashamed of your voice. . . Don't be put off by others or by the thought of what they might say.

I'm not put off by other people, and I'm not ashamed of anything. I sing all the time, just not on stage. There, I'm put off by myself, since I have a pretty good ear and I know what singing in performance is supposed to sound like.

Not being able to reliably sing in tune is one of the great tragedies of my life. Listening to people tell me I CAN do it if I just try is another. All you people who can sing need to get past the idea that anyone can do it.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: foggers
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 07:10 AM

Paula- what a brilliant way to get children singing with joy and confidence!
I was lucky to have some inspirational teachers through school and sang regularly in school choirs and in the baptist church I attended throughy my teens. It was this immersion in collective singing that skilled me up as a singer; I don't buy the notion that it is innate for some people at all, it is a learned skill, but if the learning is as much fun as Paula makes it, you don't even realise you are learning!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: paula t
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 08:16 PM

I think singing in tune is mainly a matter of lots of experience of singing and of learning to pitch match more and more notes.I also think it is about having confidence in yourself and listening to yourself as you sing.

I have reception children singing songs of 2 notes only at first.We start by learning how to stand, breathe etc. I also encourage them to play singing games which use their "thinking voice" (We "sing " the song in our heads.) An example of this would be a song of 2 notes only which is rather like a slow and deliberate version of head, shoulders, knees and toes. We sing the song (without a backing track so they can hear themselves)and then I ask individuals to name parts of the body which we will not sing out loud. Instead we use our thinking voice and then re-enter the song at the correct time.We gradually end up singing more and more of the song with our thinking voice and the children think this is hilarious as we stand in the classroom waving our arms around in silence and then suddenly singing a line together.It is amazing how quickly young children learn to pitch match the 2 notes, keep to the rhythm of the song and re-enter the song at the correct pitch after using their thinking voice.We sing the song very slowly to begin with and gradually speed up as the pitch matching improves. I gradually drop out of singing each song to give the children the chance to hear their own voice and develop confidence in their own ability.

We play lots of singing games, using our voices in different ways (Many of them very silly indeed!).We gradually sing more and more complex songs. I teach the older children the "Doh Ray Me" song because they love it and it is very useful when introducing the idea of harmony (A child sings "Doh" and holds that note and other children match that note and join in. More children are divided into small groups and they add harmonies by singing "Me" and "So. I quite often ask the least confident singers to choose the first note so they can hear others match it. I treat being the first singer as a "reward" for good listening etc. The children love hearing the sound they have created.)

We sing lots throughout the day. Sometimes it is just a couple of lines when I ask them to come and sit on the carpet, or a few lines when we sing about the things we need to remember to pack up at the end of the day. These songs have a limited number of notes and are sometimes very silly, because singing does not have to be a performance all of the time.

I think you should never feel ashamed of your voice. Use it more and more and HAVE FUN, because singing is good for you!Start with simple songs and build up from there.

Don't be put off by others or by the thought of what they might say.Such people are just very rude. Most of them wouldn't dream of having a go at someone for their appearance, so why should they think it is OK to be critical of someone's voice? No-one sings in tune all the time anyway, and if they think they do .....then perhaps they are just not listening to themselves enough!Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: John P
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 07:59 PM

because some people have the inherent ability and talent and others while enthusiastic aren't blessed with it.

What bugs me, as a terrible singer, are those who have the inherent ability but not the enthusiasm.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Wolverine
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 07:08 PM

In answer to the original question, posed .. because some people have the inherent ability and talent and others while enthusiastic aren't blessed with it. Regardless if you enjoy it, do it - but maybe consider limiting it to the shower and not inflict it on others - who may be too polite to tell you that you couldn't carry a tune if it had handles on it? ... or consider vocal lessons if you're really serious about improving.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Often
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 06:32 PM

"I know how to provide good support, how to relax my body and throat, and I can hear exactly what I want to sing. Something else almost always comes out."

the relaxing is what I would have suggested, as it helps me, although I can never sing in tune either.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: tonyteach1
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 06:12 PM

Follow up points - no singer - vocalist ever hears their voice as the audience do - they hear a fraction of the sound across the range of resonances.

Tuning can be learned BUT it takes time and practice over a sustained period not one session but many. The voice will also retune itself as it develops ie it will get higher and brighter and fuller until it settles down. Most people give up too easily

I can turn most voices round in 3 -6 months with pupil practicing 10 minutes a day guaranteed


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 04:37 PM

i considered myself tone deaf most of my life. it was,nt till i started writing songs that i tentatively asked about lessons.these were of limited value and i suffered rejection on my first attempt at a public airing of a song despite my teachers encouragement.
what has helped me most has been the free eric arsenaux vids on you tube.he is an r an b artist and not my taste but an excellent teacher, but you need appprox 20 mins practise of the exercises daily and be prepared to give it time.theres no quick fixes but steady improvement.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: foggers
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 04:10 PM

I saw an interesting documentary about the human voice on BBC last year. Jeremy Hardy volunteered to be a tone deaf guinea pig for a test to show that pitch perception can be improved. He sang into a mike that gave a visual read out on a large screen in such a way that he could see the discrepancy between the note he was producing and what he was aiming for. This visual feedback meant he quickly could adjust his pitch and see the effects on screen, thus quickly grasping the mechanics of vocal pitch change. It was a very thought provoking moment!


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: John P
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 04:00 PM

I've been a professional musician for more than 40 years. I can hear quite well, can whistle in tune, and can't carry a tune in a bucket with my voice. I've worked with multiple voice teachers and many very good vocalists in bands. My ex-wife, who used to work with people with brain injuries, thinks it might be brain damage from falling on my had a couple of times when I was young. Apparently, loss of a narrow band of functionality is fairly common with brain injuries, like people whose only problem is they can't taste salt or something.

I know how to provide good support, how to relax my body and throat, and I can hear exactly what I want to sing. Something else almost always comes out.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 03:09 PM

"Why can I hum in tune but don't always sing the note I hear in my head?"

See tonyteach's post above. It sounds like you know what you want to do, your muscles just aren't doing it right.

There's a woman in my church who says "I don't sing," and she's a totally different kettle of fish. She doesn't seem handicapped, but when she tries to sing, she produces an erratic sequence of sounds which seem totally unrelated to the melody. There are big hops up and down, and no feeling that the song is in a certain key.

I wonder whether music teachers have any way to help a person with a problem like that.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 01:34 PM

After I'd been singing for a while I began to realise that my singing voice was potentially like a fair-sized room - and I was cowering in one corner.

To learn how to fill your 'room', or to use more of it, follow tonyteach1's excellent advice above.


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Subject: RE: Why can't I sing in tune?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 04:59 AM

I often (OK, mostly) sing out of tune, but usually kazoo in tune. I notice Jeremy Hardy on ISIHAC (UK radio show) has the same problem. Why can I hum in tune but don't always sing the note I hear in my head?

RtS


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