I think I am tonedeaf... Can I do anything against it?

Peterquelle

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Thanks for your input guys. To start I downloaded an app for ear development. The first lessons are just trying to tell if an intervall is greater or lesser than another. Minor/Major Second, Minor/Major Third. I noticed I can tell the difference quite good if the root is the first note that is played. If the intervall is the first note I really have troubles. But I will try to do that lessons frequently and check my progress.
When trying to figure out chords of a song, I usually try to figure out where the changes are, and then just trial and error until I think it matches. When I think I know it, I usually look the song up and see if I was correct. I can come up with own melodies and improvise, but it is usually something out of a scale I know.
 

boneyguy

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I would recommend doing your practice away from the guitar....use your voice to train your ear. There are simple and free ear training programs online where you can start very simply....hear a note-sing the note back....hear a note followed by another and answer whether the second note was above or below the first...etc. But it's essential that this is done with your voice and not with the guitar at first. Doing the work with your voice is a much more direct route to training your ear.

Here is an example of really useful FREE (truly free) software that helps.... https://www.miles.be/software/

I would recommend downloading the two 'discontinued' versions listed...they are still downloadable...Functional Ear Trainer Basic and Advanced.
 

OmegaWoods

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Keep at it @Peterquelle .

I recently started taking lessons again. My teacher is big on doing transcription work every week so I've started doing that, slow and easy. There's software, free and otherwise, which you can use to do transcribing but you can also just slow stuff down on YouTube and use a pencil. I started with pretty easy stuff, like the "play over" at the beginning of Wish You Were Here or even Happy Birthday. It's a lot of work at the beginning but once you gain a little proficiency, it definitely gets easier.

Good luck!
 

Rockinvet

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These are great suggestions. Ear training is the key. Transcriptions too. Great recommendations.
I would recommend doing your practice away from the guitar....use your voice to train your ear. There are simple and free ear training programs online where you can start very simply....hear a note-sing the note back....hear a note followed by another and answer whether the second note was above or below the first...etc. But it's essential that this is done with your voice and not with the guitar at first. Doing the work with your voice is a much more direct route to training your ear.

Here is an example of really useful FREE (truly free) software that helps.... https://www.miles.be/software/

I would recommend downloading the two 'discontinued' versions listed...they are still downloadable...Functional Ear Trainer Basic and Advanced.
Keep at it @Peterquelle .

I recently started taking lessons again. My teacher is big on doing transcription work every week so I've started doing that, slow and easy. There's software, free and otherwise, which you can use to do transcribing but you can also just slow stuff down on YouTube and use a pencil. I started with pretty easy stuff, like the "play over" at the beginning of Wish You Were Here or even Happy Birthday. It's a lot of work at the beginning but once you gain a little proficiency, it definitely gets easier.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

tfarny

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Pick any song that you like. Sing along with the lead vocal. Get the Mrs or a friend to tell you if you're in tune with the singer (providing of course they aren't tone deaf ! ). Slightly sharp or flat is ok....but if they say you're way out and all over the place then you are tone deaf. My old bass player was tone deaf ( he couldn't see it or hear it ) and insisted on singing backing vox in our band to the point where we used to say to sound engineers to put his vox in his monitor only, no one else's and definitely not out the front of house !
Hey man, what you are describing is not being able to sing, not being tone deaf. Tone deaf is when you really cannot tell if two pitches are the same or different, not your ability to sing them.
CHeck this out: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/tunestest/test-your-sense-pitch

OP I was told I was tone deaf as a kid but it was all BS, lazy thinking. Now I can tell other band members which strings they need to tune as we play together, and I've started sweetening my guitar tunings depending on the song key so as not to drive myself crazy. Just from your first post you can do things that tone deaf people cannot do. People are very rarely tone deaf, but pitch perception is easier for some folks than for others. It's a skill you can work on that will help your singing and guitar playing both.
 

ndcaster

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Thanks for your input guys. To start I downloaded an app for ear development. The first lessons are just trying to tell if an intervall is greater or lesser than another. Minor/Major Second, Minor/Major Third. I noticed I can tell the difference quite good if the root is the first note that is played. If the intervall is the first note I really have troubles. But I will try to do that lessons frequently and check my progress.
When trying to figure out chords of a song, I usually try to figure out where the changes are, and then just trial and error until I think it matches. When I think I know it, I usually look the song up and see if I was correct. I can come up with own melodies and improvise, but it is usually something out of a scale I know.
really interesting

it may be that your problem isn't aural at all

how well do you know the fretboard?
 

nojazzhere

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I don't have that problem. I think I should say thank you Uniondale Public Schools. There's no better place to learn music than your public school system. I had nine years of it, starting with tubs in fourth grade, adding trombone and then baritone horn. I played tuba and third trombone in orchestra. Mr. Matthews, the orchestra director was a task master. "Play that again. Is that in tune? You're flat on the D. Play it again." I learned that band fingerings, typically for songs in Bb, F, Eb or Ab didn't always work for orchestra where music was more often in G, D, or C. To this day, tiny intonation errors drive me mad. I learned to hear melodies, counterpoints, intervals and such. I learned how my part fit into an arrangement. This learning is invaluable whether playing alone of in an ensemble. I'm going to suggest adult education. Music is highly structured, even rock and jazz. Learning in a structured environment can only help. Take a high school level theory course. It's all about scales, intervals, melodies, and harmonies. Do that and you'll be able to put the music you want to play into a context. That doesn't stifle your creativity. It releases it.
Sadly, you're refering to ancient history, Jeff. At least in Texas, public schools have very little in the way of music education. They can't put it on a TAKS or TAS test, so it isn't important. :(
Yeah, when we were in public school, we started orchestra (extracurricular) in third grade. The instructors were all professional string players, mostly from the Ft Worth Symphony. Only later when I started private violin lessons, and later still as a Music Major in College did I realize the "depth" of what I was taught in those first classes. You can show school boards evidence of dozens of studies of how musical training enhances and contributes to other subjects, especially math and logical problem solving, but it doesn't do any good. Not on the required State Test?.....not important. I used to conduct music therapy with my Special Ed students, and I'd have mainstream students beg to come in and participate. (my Principal never OK'd it)
 

JL_LI

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In education like elsewhere, you get what you pay for. My kids had music in public school. They had marching band competitions and band and orchestra trips. Folks in other states laugh at New York for being a high tax state but at least where I live, our kids get a great education and our drop out rate is negligible. Teachers are well paid. Administrators may be overpaid but what is an executive in charge of a company with revenues like that paid? There are pitched battles about policy and what should or shouldn’t be included in the curriculum at school board meetings. We choose sides by choosing where we live. But there’s never a battle about music or the arts. There’s never a battle about boys or girls sports. There’s never a battle about advanced placement or college credit courses. There’s never a battle about after school science programs. Almost every kid who’s academically eligible does something. You get what you pay for. Period.
 

nojazzhere

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In education like elsewhere, you get what you pay for. My kids had music in public school. They had marching band competitions and band and orchestra trips. Folks in other states laugh at New York for being a high tax state but at least where I live, our kids get a great education and our drop out rate is negligible. Teachers are well paid. Administrators may be overpaid but what is an executive in charge of a company with revenues like that paid? There are pitched battles about policy and what should or shouldn’t be included in the curriculum at school board meetings. We choose sides by choosing where we live. But there’s never a battle about music or the arts. There’s never a battle about boys or girls sports. There’s never a battle about advanced placement or college credit courses. There’s never a battle about after school science programs. Almost every kid who’s academically eligible does something. You get what you pay for. Period.
Of course you're largely correct. Where my post was somewhat "incomplete" was in where music instruction in schools BEGINS. Middle and High schools still have some form of orchestra and band (both marching and concert) and some of our High schools here even have Mariachi Bands. But what I meant (and didn't explain) was that those ensembles are generally open to students who already have some knowledge or skill on an instrument....they're NOT for absolute beginners, as many of us were in third grade. Sure, an orchestra teacher might persuade a violinist to switch to viola, or a clarinetist to give the oboe a try, but rarely take a student who has zero musical experience.....except in an extreme case.
Additionally, I don't want my comments taken as applying to EVERY district in Texas.....but with our form of school financing, it's hard for a wealthy district to do much more than a poorer district can. But the bottom line (IMHO and experience) is that music education in schools is given very low priority, by administration.
And finally, since I can't actually mention what gets argued about in school board hearings without getting into verboten subjects, I'll just reiterate that music programs are not considered big deals.
 

boxocrap

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Hi, Ive been playing for quite a few years now. Learned everything from Youtube, tabs and chordsheets. I know my basic scales, I can hear when I am playing the wrong key, and I can figure out simple chord progressions by ear.
But I just cant figure out melodies on my own. I have a really hard time finding the first note. Hell I cant even tell if I am to high or to low, or even in which direction a melody is going. Can that stuff be trained, or am I damned to play everything by tabs/notation forever?

Thanks for your input guys. To start I downloaded an app for ear development. The first lessons are just trying to tell if an intervall is greater or lesser than another. Minor/Major Second, Minor/Major Third. I noticed I can tell the difference quite good if the root is the first note that is played. If the intervall is the first note I really have troubles. But I will try to do that lessons frequently and check my progress.
When trying to figure out chords of a song, I usually try to figure out where the changes are, and then just trial and error until I think it matches. When I think I know it, I usually look the song up and see if I was correct. I can come up with own melodies and improvise, but it is usually something out of a scale I know.
i doubt you tonedeaf..maybe tone "untrained"
 

guitar_paul1

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You're definitely not tone deaf.

When I started out, my old man (who was a pro musician for years) told me: "Be able to sing everything you play."

Obviously not chords, but what good advice that was. A great training exercise I still use these 60 years later. Play a note and match it with your voice.

If you can't find it, start by using a tuner.
 

Hamstein

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The harder something is, the more you get out of it.
on the other hand, 'If something's too hard, - it's not worth doing!'

Only kidding, - I am with the general consensus, practice is the key.

I have a very good ear, - (it's my left one, the other one has a bit of cauliflower going on!) I have no trouble picking out notes, but remembering them for later is a different matter! Rhythm is easy for me, which i put down to my marvellous brass teacher beating it into me when I was young, thanks Nigel! chucka chucka chuck, chucka chucka chuck, chucka chuck! :)
 

Red Ryder

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Pick a catchy phrase and repeat it over and over, faster and faster until you have it perfect. Example: smart fella I, I fella smart, takes a smart fella to say I fella smart.
After awhile you'll be a smart fella.
 

scottser

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Hi, Ive been playing for quite a few years now. Learned everything from Youtube, tabs and chordsheets. I know my basic scales, I can hear when I am playing the wrong key, and I can figure out simple chord progressions by ear.
But I just cant figure out melodies on my own. I have a really hard time finding the first note. Hell I cant even tell if I am to high or to low, or even in which direction a melody is going. Can that stuff be trained, or am I damned to play everything by tabs/notation forever?
Sing.
It's the easiest way to sort your ear out.
 

T Prior

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A very close friend, a Professional Road Bass player, who toured the world, not R+R or Blues, but rather Jazz and mainstream artists like L Minelli, Andy Williams , Woody Herman, C Mangione , etc...way way - I mean WAY BACK , we would listen to music and his "ear training" was listening and calling out the chords, intervals etc...and also singing harmony to the records. He would drive me crazy.. he would listen then say things like ..did you hear that chord change - WOW that was a xxx over xxx... I would respond by saying I wanna hear you go get us another Beer !

Oh yeah, he's still the same today-50 years later !

Ear training is as important as learning our instrument.
 

codamedia

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Can that stuff be trained, or am I damned to play everything by tabs/notation forever?

Absolutely... look up "ear training courses" and in particular "relative ear training". The good ones will teach you to recognize the patterns, intervals, etc... in short order. If you can hear changes you are not tone deaf, you just don't know what you are hearing or how to organize it.
 




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