PostcardI often hear “non-singers” say that they are tone deaf. If there is such a thing as tone-deafness I’ve never met anyone who actually suffers from it. “With life-long certainty I told Nancy I was tone-deaf and within two minutes she had me matching a note she was singing. I was amazed and a little bit giddy!”, says Sue, one of my students.

Here’s the problem: Songs move along fast, right? One note, right after the other, boom boom boom! The notes just don’t wait. The song moves along like a train on a track! Non-singers can’t catch up.

If singing doesn’t come easily to you, you’ve never had practice, you have no way to conceptualize what is happening in the song (unlike a piano or guitar the mechanism of the voice is invisible – there are no piano keys or fretboard to look at), and quite likely you’re nervous to boot – no wonder you think you’re tone deaf!

So one of the very best tips for a “non-singer” is to slow way down and try matching one long note. Have someone (who is really supportive and nice) sing you one long note and then you try to match that note. It’s ideal if you’re friend can give you feedback, because you might not get it on the first try – but you have to tell them in advance that it’s super-important that they are very nice and supportive about it!

You might start out by singing a  note that is higher or lower than the note that you are aiming for, but over time you will learn to recognize not only the sound but the feeling of matching a note. And that’s what it’s all about! If you can do it once, you’re not tone-deaf – you just need to take your time! This is how you start to learn to sing!

Learn more about singing for complete beginners in my upcoming  book, Fear of Singing: Learn to Sing Even if You Think You Can’t Carry a Tune!

Nancy Salwen