If you struggle to carry a tune, chances are you aren’t tone deaf, but that some part of your voice is just a bit out of whack. Your voice is an incredibly complex system that requires all its parts to be in balance to function smoothly. Think of it like a machine with a network of gears- if one gear breaks it will alter the function of the whole machine. Fortunately, you have the ability to change the function of the “gears” that make up your voice. With help from a knowledgeable teacher, some patience, and some practice, you can put your voice into balance and sing.
Here is a list of five of the reasons you may not sing in tune:
Air: Singing requires a LOT of breath, in and out. This may seem obvious, but many of us really underestimate how much air we really need to sing.
Shape: Unlike a flute, trumpet, or clarinet, the voice is a malleable instrument. You can change the position of your tongue, lips, throat, and the layrnx itself, and some positions just won’t work as well as others.
Tension: Do you tend to hold your stress in your shoulders or neck? If the muscles around your larynx are tense it can make it difficult for your voice to function freely.
Vibration: Pay attention to where you feel vibration when you sing. If it feels like it is concentrated in your chest or throat, odds are it could cause trouble.
Fatigue: We use our voices to do all kinds of things besides to sing (to speak, laugh, cry, cough, yell, etc.) The teeny tiny muscles that make up your voice can become tired with overuse, and just like any other muscle, they will not work as well if they are fatigued.
These are just five of myriad factors that can impact your ability to sing. If you have a song to sing but have always thought of yourself as “tone-deaf,” I hope this article encourages you not to write yourself off. Singing is a skill, and like any other skill it can be improved with repeated, focused practice. We all can sing, and I think we all should.
Kate is one of our amazing vocal coaches in NYC. She is available for in-home voice lessons in NYC and Brooklyn.