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Not being able to sing in tune with other people: is/was this you?

(72 Posts)
ontosecondary Wed 19-Nov-14 12:44:49

Hi, I'm teaching music and feel a bit rubbish teaching singing because I literally have no concept of what it is like not to be able to sing the same note as someone else in reasonable tune.

So... can anyone help me? Can anyone describe what it feels like and how you improved? I know there are methods out there but what I'm after is insight.

I feel much better teaching instruments because I can nearly always "see" the process of not-understanding....dawning understanding... understanding.....

grateful in advance.

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Wed 19-Nov-14 12:55:09

I don't know. I sound in tune to me. He'll, at times I sound pretty good. To me. I'm most definitely not, though.

Frenchfemme Wed 19-Nov-14 13:03:27

I am the opposite - I have no concept of what it is like to be able to sing the same note as someone else in reasonable tune. How do you do it? I am late 50s now and still as bad as when I was told to mime in school music lessons! I would however love to be able to sing in tune, so if you come up with a way please let me know. (Not much help, sorry.)

LuckyLopez Wed 19-Nov-14 13:17:43

I can't really hear my own voice. I tend to hear the other people/radio abs think 'hell this sounds great'. If I heard myself played back I would be able to hear I was awful though.

LuckyLopez Wed 19-Nov-14 13:19:42

I don't think it's something that can be taught either sorry.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 19-Nov-14 13:22:19

the problem is that to the person they honestly SOUND in tune. They really don't realise they can't sing.

Interestingly my mum commented that after she had her tonsils out she can't hear herself singing in the way she used to be able to and I noticed the same thing. Not sure if this is a common thing but just a slightly interesting point.

NotCitrus Wed 19-Nov-14 13:52:45

This was me - only child not allowed to be in the school choir (entire rest of Y6 was). Then when I was about 12 my scary piano teacher told me she was going to teach me to sing, whether I liked it or not (and I really didn't!)

She started from the beginning, playing one note and getting me to sing that, then practicing hearing various intervals and the difference between them, comparing them to famous tunes (a fourth is Twinkle Twinkle, a fifth is EastEnders IIRC), then singing two notes at a time, etc. I remember playing 'higher or lower' for ever - still can't tell if a tune repeats a note or is up or down, most of the time.

After two years of lessons I can sing a simple tune within a limited pitch range pretty well, if I pay attention. So I can sing nursery rhymes fine, but have no chance of following pop music well enough to figure out the tune properly, even if I could attempt the range.

Thankfully the relationship I once had with an opera singer didn't last (I had to try to avoid singing in the shower), so I sing happily at home.

magicstar1 Wed 19-Nov-14 14:14:36

That sounds like me. I sing in the car etc. and sound okay in my own head, but not with other people. I seem to switch key a few times during a song, and when I was in school I mimed for 6 years in the choir...I just couldn't manage to stay in tune with everyone else.

RueDeWakening Wed 19-Nov-14 14:21:09

Me too. Still can't sing, although I cope better when singing without any accompaniment, I think because I then decide the starting note and pick one where most of the song is within my range, iyswim. I know the notes I can hit more reliably are lower than many/most? female voices, I find it easier to sing along with blokes. I can hear whether a note is flat/wrong etc when listening back, but can't tell it of myself on the fly.

I'm doing campfire songs with Rainbows this week...wish me luck!

No idea if that's helpful...

Lookslikeimstuckhere Wed 19-Nov-14 14:22:55

If you stick your fingers in your ears, you can hear what you sound like as you sing. If they do it with just one ear while listening along, it can help them to hear how they can change. Sometimes.

I'm reasonably good at singing and instruments. I find it very hard to teach music!

DH cannot hold on to a tune to save his life. He actually changes pitch (and sometimes song) mid way through humming. He knows he can't sing well but doesn't realise that he's out of tune iyswim. He is much better if he has heard the tune lots of times. Maybe it sinks in to his sub conscious memory or something!

Songs he has sung with my DS have changed from being so far off it's funny, to being actually not bad. I love hearing him sing to DS, even though it's not perfect smile

Sorry, none of that has probably helped at all!

schoolclosed Wed 19-Nov-14 14:24:29

I can sing the same tune as one other person, but can't pick out any of the parts of e.g. a pop song. I hear a tune, but I'm told that when I sing I generally pick a note almost at random out of the mix available - a little bit of the melody here, some of the rhythm section there, a bit of bass maybe. Like NotCitrus with practice I can hold a tune on my own, with a limited pitch range, but other things are hard. I think the approach her piano teacher took sounds like a good one. One note at a time, one voice at a time, no distractions. What I would love to be able to do is harmonise (to cover up my odd vocal range) but I've never practiced it. I'm trying to sing along to my uke, but I can't for the life of me sing the right note out of the chord.

Lookslikeimstuckhere Wed 19-Nov-14 14:25:17

In fact, thinking about it, one to one repetition with melody only on the piano, with some wayward Kings during the school nativity helped a lot last year...

ReallyTired Wed 19-Nov-14 14:46:26

The choir master of my son's church choir reckons that that he can teach any child to sing. I feel a big mistake that many schools make is to encourage children to sing loudly. When young children sing loudly it sounds terrible.

I think its better to teach children good posture. Infact good posture carries over into good speaking skills. Ds does vocal exercises like this to warm up.

goodiegoodieyumyum Wed 19-Nov-14 15:00:50

I cant sing and I can certainly hear that U sung out if tune. My violin teacher tried to get me to sing scales she gave up as I couldnt do it. I can if I concentrate sing in tune but it take learning a song for years, the only thing I rwally sing in tune is Christmas carols probably because I have sang them over and over for years and years.

GoodArvo Wed 19-Nov-14 15:04:31

In my head I sound like Julie Andrews, but my kids ask me not to sing.

PatriciaHolm Wed 19-Nov-14 15:33:44

I can't sing. I don't even comprehend what people mean by being "in key", or "in tune". I got thrown out of recorder club as a child. Some of us are beyond help!

ontosecondary Wed 19-Nov-14 19:35:21

Wow this is really helping... Much better than reading "how to teach" stuff.

Very glad to describe things I can't do (numerous) if anyone needs reciprocation smile.

TheSpottedZebra Wed 19-Nov-14 19:40:13

I'm quite musical - grade 8 in 3 instruments - but I can't sing. I just can't! I know the note I am going for, but also I know instantly it is out of my mouth that it's not right. The tone is horrid, and the notes are just wrong.

Really, it's a myth that anyone can be taught to sing in tune.

Odd that I too have had my tonsils out. Twice.

addictedtosugar Wed 19-Nov-14 20:16:07

I can play a rhythm, and have a reasonable level of wind instrument playing.
But I can't sing in tune - or tune up an instrument very accurately.
I can hear sometimes when tuning that a beat is occurring between the notes, but don't know how to correct it.
I too was banned from the school choir - and I've had my tonsils out.

JennyBlueWren Wed 19-Nov-14 20:57:16

I can't sing to a tune. I've got great rhythm and can learn lyrics really quickly. The problem is it sounds to me like I am singing right. I can't hear the notes properly when I sing so I can't make it go higher or lower.

I was a very enthusiastic singer and had to be asked not to sing Silent Night when I was in Y6 as I put everyone else off. sad Still sad about that now.

overmydeadbody Wed 19-Nov-14 21:06:30

My problem is I cannot hear notes or pitch or anything like that, I don't even know what it is, it baffles me because I just cant' hear it.

I love music and singing along, I would love to be able to sing because I know I sound awful and I can never even hum a song and make it sound like the real song.

ontosecondary Wed 19-Nov-14 22:27:29

Fascinating stories. Overmydeadbody, if you love music, surely you must be able to hear pitch, just not the pitch that comes from you?

ReallyTired Wed 19-Nov-14 23:42:06

Really, it's a myth that anyone can be taught to sing in tune."

Depends what you mean by sing in tune. Certainly you cannot teach someone to have perfect pitch, but you can improve your sense of a pitch to some extent. Certainly relative pitch can be learnt so that someone can sing along tolerably when accompanied.

I know that there is a condition called amusica which is the musical equivalent of dyslexia.

I suppose for 4% of the population that music lessons might be like trying to teach a colour blind person to see colour.

Out of interest those on this thread with poor pitch perception, how did you get on with learning modern foreign languages? If someone had no sense of pitch then they would have speech and language problems.

PatriciaHolm Thu 20-Nov-14 07:21:49

Interesting. I am pants at pitch, and pants at foreign languages. Very good at lots of other things but totally pants at those!

addictedtosugar Thu 20-Nov-14 08:22:31

Yep, pants at pitch, pants at languages, and dyslexic.
Trying to listen to DH talk in his tonal native lanuguage is a nightmare. He'll say its not X its x, and I'll be "but you've just said exactly the same thing twice" I can't tell the difference.
Don't know if its related or not, but there is a degree of genetic deafness in my family (Grandfather, 3/5 of his children all wore hearing aids - noone in current generation (yet)). I wonder if there is also some slight defect in our ear construction that, depending on other factors can affect pitch perception / sound processing?

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