Posted by: Purple | 2009-05-29

Singing out of tune

I really enjoyed this question and response. Sadly I am unable to hold a note at all, but I do know this so confine my singing to the shower.
I find it very sad though as I love a rousing sing along but I' m too embarassed to sing if there is a person in a 5km radius of where I am.

When I hear other people sing, I can' t tell what notes they are hitting, but I can tell whether it sounds good or not. I can tell that they are singing the right melody too.

I enjoy listening to classical music occasionally - as it sounds pleasant. I enjoy a lot of the more popular music too, but I' m definitely not someone who rushes out to buy new CD' s.

When I sing in the shower, it does sound good to me - it sounds like I am singing the right melody. I however wouldn' t have a clue if I was hitting the right notes or not. I know from primary school and onwards that when I sang - other children would yell - sing in tune. This continued through high shcool (in a different area - so I know it wasn' t residual teasing), so I got the hint that my talents perhaps lay elsewhere. My husband is quite musical, and he says that when I sing with a CD playing I do mostly hit the right note and keep the tune, it' s my shower singing that is the real problem.

Just thought the poster of the question might enjoy hearing a first hand response of a tuneless wonder.

Sorry though, I don' t think it' s a mental disorder. I wasn' t exposed to music at all as a child until getting to primary school where we had a music lesson and sang ancient pop songs from my parents teenage days and other dreadful music.
My mother sings nicely, and my father can' t hold a tune or note even if the CD is playing.

My five year old covers my mouth with his hand if I sing. He sounds fine when he sings. but I did send him to a music class from when he was two to prevent him suffering my mostly secret shame.

At this point in my life though, I' ve accepted the size of my bum and my lack of any musical ability and I focus on what I am good at, and I don' t annoy other poeople in public by sining - even when I sing the national anthem at a public event, I mouth the words but go all out on the facial expressions so that I don' t look less passionate.

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Our expert says:
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OK, so long as the shower doesn't object ! Maybe get some karaoke discs to sing with at home ( but please don't do it in public !) --- it'll give you support and a guide to the tune, while you sing away. If that keeps you on tune, take a disc player into the bathroom ( with due electrical precautions ) to help you sing better there, too.
It's not a mental disorder, of course, but in some folks, with extreme forms, it's a neurological / brain disorder --- similaer to other varieties in which people struggle to write, or dyslexia, and so on. Dysmusia deserves as much respect.
And I'm sure you're right that lack of exposure to music when young, and lack of experience in early life, could contribute to this. Some things are easier for the brain to learn when one is younger --- for instance, when one learns languages, it's easier when a child, and one usually gets the accent perfect ; when learning as an adult, it is harder work, and we may never sound totally convincing.

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