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How Do I Help a Tone Death Student?

You have so much Info….thank you…I am a vocal coach and am so stumped as to how to try to fix a totally tone deaf student…is there a way?  Help!



Hey Rene,

I have been there! This is something that requires a lot of patience. Personally, I’ve helped a couple of different singers with physical defects that have prevented them from easily being able to control their pitch. After working diligently for a few months, I’ve seen an improvement in their ability to match pitch, but the range of accurate pitch only spanned an octave or so.

Basically what I did was I kept it super simple, and we crawled. The scales were really small, starting on matching a simple pitch, then moving to 3 or 5 notes scales. From there, choosing songs that they enjoy that have a limited range and making sure those songs are in the easiest parts of their range (changing the key, if necessary).

The other thing I was always 100% clear on was making sure that they knew that they had a problem matching pitch, and that we would need to spend the first month or two seeing if lessons were a good investment for them. I was encouraging, but also deliberate (personally, I’m not sure I believe in the concept of someone being tone def, but rather it’s just more difficult for some people to do it than others because they have much less practice).

Regardless, like I said, I’m always encouraging, but I want to make sure that we all have reasonable expectations (I always like saying something along the lines of, while I believe you will improve by taking voice lessons, not everyone is going to walk out of this studio sounding like Christina Ageulera, Aretha Franklin, or whoever you may believe is the best singer out there).

Anyway, I hope this guidance helps. Best of luck helping your student! With a little bit of patience, a good plan and plenty of encouragement, you may both be surprised how far one can come.

Vocal Coach Ken Taylor

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