These words break our hearts every time we hear them:Â â€œIâ€™m tone deaf. I canâ€™t sing.â€Â Itâ€™s usually accompanied by a smile or laugh, but the message is both clear and absolute. And wrong.
A great story onÂ Torontoâ€™s Ludwig-Van.com classical music siteÂ delves into theÂ widely-held misconceptionÂ that most people cannot sing.
â€œThatâ€™s a blatant lie.â€
Of all creative endeavours, singing is perhaps the most poorly understood. To the chagrin of vocal teachers everywhere, singing is the one pursuit where you will be told, you canâ€™t sing, so donâ€™t bother. Parents will readily pony up the resources for acting lessons, or soccer, but when it comes to the ability to sing, many people are still under the impression that itâ€™s something magical â€“ you either have it, or you donâ€™t.
A study of undergrads at Queenâ€™s University, found that about 17 percent reported themselves as being tone deaf. Itâ€™s such a common fallacy in our society that it has led to a world of singers â€” the small minority â€” and non-singers â€” the vast majority. But is that really based in reality? Science â€” and those vocal teachers â€”Â say no.
Sean Hutchings is the Director of Research at Torontoâ€™s Royal Conservatory of Music. His lab looks into how music affects the mind, and how the mind affects music, in essence. He calls singing a â€œstructured coordination of vocal musclesâ€ at its most basic level. â€œJust like any type of muscular activity, itâ€™s amenable to practice. We know that practising motor control can help. You can certainly learn to be better.â€ As he points out, speaking is already a form of muscle control. So, why is it that our society has put singing into such a rarefied category?
â€œPart of the reason that there has been a source of anxiety over singing is inadequate music education.â€ He points out that in older generations, in particular, the sole emphasis was on performance. When school children who couldnâ€™t naturally hit the right notes, rather than training them, they would simply be told to mouth the words, and not sing at all. â€œThereâ€™s no better way to make sure someone is bad at something than to tell them they canâ€™t do it.â€
Read â€“and share â€” the entire story atÂ Think You Canâ€™t Sing? Science Doesnâ€™t Believe You.