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If someone in the school choir is tone deaf ....

(25 Posts)
porfavour Sat 21-Nov-15 13:31:54

I saw a small school choir perform at an event recently, and though they were lovely, one of the children was very out of tune. It's an inclusive sort of a school so I don't suppose the choir has auditions, but it got me wondering how school choir teachers manage those situations these days?

My DH is tone deaf - he went to a private school and was told to stand at the back and mime during singing lessons. Naturally he wasn't encouraged to join the choir.

Of course some would claim that anyone can be taught to sing ... but is it really true?

marmaladegranny Sat 21-Nov-15 13:43:41

Like your DH I was always told I had to stand at the back and mime at school.
Over the decades this has niggled away at me and when the opportunity arose I joined a small 'singing for fun' group and learnt how to the into the rest of the singers. I will never be a soloist as I cannot hold a tune on my own but I really enjoyed singing in a group so that when I moved to another county I joined a small community choir. Both choir directors have assured me that they will tell me if I about of tune!
So in answer to your question I am not sure that anyone can be taught to sing - but they can certainly learn! Maybe as children we have not learnt how to tune into the rest of the group?

lljkk Sat 21-Nov-15 13:50:32

It makes my teeth itch, it's like saying "Everyone can learn calculus" or "Everyone can be taught to win a marathon", "Everyone can learn to make great fudge" , etc. As if environment & raw material makes no difference. confused

I was forced to sing even though the other children openly mocked how bad I was (very off key, I am still frequently told).

BrianButterfield Sat 21-Nov-15 16:08:36

If a child wants to join a school choir they should be allowed to even if they're terrible, IMO. School is for everyone and everyone should be allowed to participate. There are selective choirs and singing groups all over the place and private lessons for those who take it seriously but for some children this will be their only opportunity so they should all be allowed to have a go. Same with sport IMO.

And yes, I am a teacher, and if I ran a club like that I'd let anyone join if they wanted.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Sat 21-Nov-15 16:22:11

The teacher in my primary school who led the choir somehow taught me enough to enable me to play the lead in a the school play and included me in the special section of the choir which entered competitions, both of which involved solos. Despite this, and now I'm without his guidance I still can't sing a note.

There is a chance I was terrible at singing in the play and choir but no one ever said so, whereas I was told frequently before and since that I'm totally out of tune. So maybe there is hope if the teacher is as fabulous as Mr M was.

happygardening Sat 21-Nov-15 18:23:25

A friend is completely tone deaf she was assured by singing friends/teachers that "anyone" can learn to sing to a certain level, after 18 months of weekly private singing lessons and lots of practicing in the bath her teacher said she was the exception that proved the rule. I was very disappointed.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sat 21-Nov-15 18:27:20

DD teacher y3 told her `The choir would be much better without YOU in it` ... lovely ... -fucking bitch--

AmeliaEarhartinBerlin Sat 21-Nov-15 21:52:50

I've seen some teachers teach the 'less aware' (NOT tone deaf!) kids by getting them to do glissandos up and down - they use their hands to approximate the pitch (going up & down) .. eventually working in stopping points and then matching those points to actual pitches on the piano. I think that this creates pitch awareness .... Hard work - but could be worth it...

... the woods would be very silent if the only birds that sang there were those that sang the very best..... (can't remember who said that... )

TJEckleburg Sat 21-Nov-15 22:00:48

I was not only flat as a child but also incredibly loud. But it wasn't until I was an adult that I realised I'd been deliberately kept from singing by my primary school choir teacher (everyone but me was in the choir - thats how horrendously bad I sound). But for years, I was given fairly large speaking parts in the mainly singing plays, or asked to be the announcer at concerts, and bless me, I believed her when she told me it was because anyone could sing in a choir, but only really confident children with lovely clear voices could stand up by themselves and speak to a crowd of people. And then in the Y6 show, she had me "manage" the percussion section - me and a couple of younger kids on glockenspiels playing along. That woman was an amazing teacher - took what could have been a problem that made me feel terrible and instead made me truly believe I was special. Not everyone can sing. but everyone can take part in some way.

Fizrim Sat 21-Nov-15 22:00:57

I was in a school choir at secondary school (it was a club at lunchtime so you only went if you wanted to) and there was one singer who was miles off-key. On any of our very rare performances, they would be in the centre of the back row and surrounded by a few louder singers. There was certainly never any question of them not being in the choir or performing.

The teacher did occasionally make an 'up' motion with her hands when we were practicing but that was all. I don't remember anyone saying anything to the off-key singer or feeling that they were spoiling our efforts as it wasn't that type of choir!

On the other hand, my primary school did audition for the choir - the teacher would come into the classroom and listen to you sing while the rest of the class read a book (you auditioned in front of your own class - I say audition, it was compulsory ...) and then if you were OK you were in the choir. I don't think schools do this kinda thing nowadays thankfully!

irvine101 Sun 22-Nov-15 09:00:12

My friend at uni was totally out of tune, but loved singing and loved karaoke. Nobody discouraged her and she kept singing at every opportunity.
Now she is the best singer out of all of us. So, I think if you don't crush their confidence, they can improve.

lljkk Sun 22-Nov-15 10:15:14

I can't believe how many of you have had such lovely long-term experiences with people not even telling you how bad your singing was (supposedly) for many many yrs. I wonder why.

I'm told all the time how bad I am, and right away. Family, friends, boyfriends, friends of boyfriends, they never held back. I suppose like I said, teachers in primary school acted like it didn't matter and one singing group in which people were too nice to say anything, and the leader even listened to me long enough to tell me what type of singer I am (some kind of Alto?, the one with very most limited range).

Another huge open-to-public choir was very obviously displeased with me, instantly.

sandgrown Sun 22-Nov-15 10:21:21

I have always been told I am not a good singer but I don't let it put me off because I love singing and it makes me happy. I have joined a non audition choir and they haven't chucked me out yet!

Sadik Wed 25-Nov-15 09:38:06

DD has absolutely no sense of pitch, and zero interest in music (13 now). Her primary school always managed to get everyone in the class singing in tune for the songs in the Christmas shows, to the extent where dd could sing those five or six songs in tune even on her own. I think it involved endless repetition and visual 'up' / 'down' indications. So it can be done!

fleurdelacourt Wed 25-Nov-15 12:14:25

the choir at our school is of the 'stand at the back and mime' approach.

Some parents are very offended by this - but if their child is tone deaf then they spoil the sound the others are making. Very difficult for a tone deaf child to improve without some kind of private tuition.

ds is a talented singer - but not so hot at football. I wouldn't expect the A team to have to tolerate him just so that his feeling weren't hurt - and similarly why should all his singing effort be wasted by trying to pretend that the choir should be all inclusive.

Witchend Wed 25-Nov-15 12:40:38

The problem is also if you have one child who is loud and off key then the others may follow too.

Ds' year at infants was agonisingly bad. Very cute in year R, but by year 2 it wasn't quite so!

But I know there were several singers in that year. Not just in tune, but powerful and good as soloists. However there was one lovely little girl (and I mean that genuinely, she is lovely) who was bag full of confidence and totally tuneless, and sang at the top of her voice, and just took the rest of them with her.
In year 3 she found how to hold a tune (but fairly quietly) and now the year sounds beautifully tuneful. This is a year of 90, so you wouldn't expect one child to make such a difference.

So I do have sympathy with the choir teacher who asks them to keep quieter.

My dsis is totally tone deaf. Many people have tried and she really can't hear the difference in notes. If she knows a piece really well she can sort of learn the tune, but it doesn't sound natural, a bit like someone trying to write left handed when they're right handed. They may make it readable, but it is immediately obvious that they struggled.

At the school they have 3 choirs. Choir for everyone, audition choir, and boys' choir (very popular as they miss assembly!). That is great because everyone can try, but the audition choir is there for those who are better.

maryso Wed 25-Nov-15 12:48:04

Pitch accuracy is a separate matter from getting better at singing.

To many who are made with perfect pitch, mostmany instruments and people sound just 'broken'. Especially the ones tuned to below pitch in the mistaken belief they sound ancient and authentic.

Many with perfect pitch also admit to being bad singers. Singing is not just about pitch accuracy, music is not just notes. Nevertheless, whatever your gifts, a good teacher will make you better. If you enjoy singing, get a good teacher. There is no need only to heed those who advocate miming at the back of the choir.

manicinsomniac Thu 26-Nov-15 00:30:15

Not many people are truly tone deaf. I don't think those who are can be taught to sing. But I could be wrong.

Most people can be taught to at least improve.

I run a selective school musical theatre choir (for 7-13 year olds). I have auditions (not compulsory) and more don't get in than do.

But the same school also has a chamber choir (highly selective), a senior choir (mildly selective), a junior choir (compulsory) and a Friday choir (open to all).

So I don't think there's anything wrong in having high quality selective choirs in an inclusive environment like a school as long as there are also inclusive opportunities to do the same activity.

abbieangel Tue 08-Dec-15 18:45:32

I too was told to stand and mime. However, I am not tone deaf. I can hear music I just cannot reproduce it - I have a very small range in my vocal chords. In other words I have a cr*p voice. I hope people try not to confuse the two.

I was at my happiest when I joined a choir at a local Elim Church ( Pentecostal - happy clappy and all) It was not selective. If you wanted to join you just turned up - my friend went and took me with her. Nearly half the choir were " tone deaf" and how we ever managed to carry any tune God alone knows.... and we were drowned out by the rest of the congregation anyway.

I do not sing anymore after I went to another Church and was told to be quiet. It hurt. I loved singing even if I was never going to win Britains Got Talent. Dont let that happen to your child. Please do not be so critical. We can all, as the Pastor of that Elim Church always said " Make a joyful noise onto the Lord".

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 08-Dec-15 19:38:05

My primary school music teacher (who was genuinely lovely) used to visibly wince when I started singing. Which was a lot better than the guide leader who used to say, in a massive display of condescension: "God listens to the sparrows as well as the larks."

My dd3 has taken after me. Recently during music she was asked why she was singing like that. She pointed out it was her normal singing voice. It was suggested that she might like to give the singing a miss grin.

INeedNewShoes Tue 08-Dec-15 19:46:57

I like the idea of all kids having the chance to sing if they want to, but would we expect a terrible footballer (or insert other sport here) to make it into the school team so that one poor player brought the whole team down? It's a similar thing really.

One solution that many schools adopt is to have an audition-only chamber choir and then an open-to-all school choir. This seems a good approach to me; similar to schools having a B, C, D team for sports.

I know sports are competitive whereas music tends not to be but I still think the good singers should have the opportunity to perform at a high standard from time to time.

Abetes Wed 09-Dec-15 07:26:51

I had my ds's Christmas concert last night. As he is in year 6, the choir is all of the children. He has white blond hair, huge blue eyes, great dimples and is short enough to stand. So many parents afterwards told me that he looked like an angel. However, he has been practicing in the back of the car and I (and presumably the music teacher) know how absolutely awful he sounds on his own. He loved singing and I love the fact that all the children take part - in primary school that's the way it should be. An auditioned choir sang for parts of the concert but I think that everyone should take part in some of the carols.

I thought it was normal for all school choirs to have kids who can't sing?! There were loads in my schools because they weren't audition based.

If you listen to most of the school choirs you'll pick up some awful voices in there. Or the overall sound can be an indicator!

PirateSmile Wed 09-Dec-15 07:44:23

DP was told to mime in the school choir. Having heard him sing I'm not surprised. He laughs about it.

Rinceoir Wed 09-Dec-15 08:11:31

I was forced to audition for the school choir in front of the rest of my class aged about 9. I was then picked but only "to make up the numbers" and placed at the back, at the side where no microphones were placed. I hated it. I don't think it's fair that only the best are allowed though, and that goes for any activity. In my schools (primary and secondary) they were very quick to give awards for extra-curricular skills- like music, sports etc. Howecer the more academic amongst us never received any awards so as "not to deter the others from working hard" and I found it very demoralising and demotivating.

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