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Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student

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  • Deke Sharon
    My understanding is that very, very few people are actually tone deaf. A tone deaf person (clinically) will speak in a monotone, not even rising at the end of
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 17, 2009
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      My understanding is that very, very few people are actually tone deaf.

      A tone deaf person (clinically) will speak in a monotone, not even
      rising at the end of a question - incapable of hearing any pitch.

      What you're probably dealing with is someone who has trouble matching
      pitch, which is a different issue.

      There is someone in Japan who is working with this specific problem/
      issue. The core lies in an inability to kick into head voice when
      needed, so the intervals get shaved at the top of the chest voice.

      I'm no expert, but I'll bet there is hope. However, the person's not
      going to be running before walking, and a cappella is often a full-on
      sprint, even for experienced singers.

      Start with simple voice lessons, matching pitch, and when ready, a
      simple chorus. Go slowly.

      But I do believe there is hope.

      (however, if the person is impatient, I echo Steven's comments below)

      On Jul 17, 2009, at 10:17 AM, Stephen Saxon wrote:

      > My two cents:
      >
      > I know, this is a difficult thing to consider. But this may be a
      > person you
      > should suggest pursue a different creative art or endeavor. I have had
      > students who understood music theory, were generally creative
      > individuals,
      > and had a general disconnect between their ears and voices. I
      > suggested one
      > of them take up trumpet (I am also a professional trumpet player)
      > because it
      > just seemed to me that he might be able to explore music through that
      > avenue.
      >
      > But when a person is essentially tone deaf, there is usually something
      > behind that. Forcing the issue is kind of like trying to force
      > someone who
      > just doesn't understand form or color into an artist's training, or
      > someone
      > who has little or no hand-eye coordination into a little league
      > experience.
      > There is an indelicate saying, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it
      > wastes
      > your time and it annoys the pig." I'm not calling your student a
      > pig!!!
      > But there is no reason to believe that every single person is bound
      > to be
      > good at, or to even enjoy the art and experience of singing.
      >
      > I have found in dealing with many young people, including my own two
      > children, that encouraging and enabling them to pursue areas of
      > strength
      > rather than areas of disability for them is often a very good way to
      > teach
      > them about success, hard work, and creativity. And it can uncover
      > something
      > for which they actually have a deep spark or interest.
      >
      > For a kid who isn't very musically oriented, creativity and
      > accomplishment
      > might be more easily found at a skate park. Go out with a camera and
      > catch
      > his or her best tricks and post them to the web. Or maybe s/he is a
      > gifted
      > swimmer. drive them to early morning practices and weekend meets.
      > Learn the
      > rules to water polo or lacrosse, or whatever it is. Or maybe that time
      > could be better spent focusing on logic and debate, chess,
      > mathletes, drama,
      > scientific experiences, athletics, sculpture, woodshop skills, or
      > something
      > else.
      >
      > It was an important lesson for me to learn that even my own kids
      > weren't
      > really pre-disposed to being interested in the things at which I have
      > excelled. Recognizing that, and then finding things that they can be
      > really
      > good at are two important roles for a mentor or responsible adult.
      >
      > Respectfully,
      >
      > Stephen.
      >
      > From: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com
      > ] On
      > Behalf Of Chih-Hung Chen
      > Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:05 AM
      > To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com; Kevin Lee
      > Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
      >
      > Can she sing a song by herself without much issue on pitch? I once sat
      > on a panel of a chorus audition and a guy came in that failed to sing
      > scale correctly, can not follow the pitch that we play some random
      > notes in piano(from a sequence of one note, two notes, and three
      > notes). We thought this is an easy decision and we all relaxed into
      > our seat. But then everyone sit straight when we heard he sang the
      > piece of his choice. He has the best tone for all the basses that I've
      > ever heard.
      >
      > We ended up invite him back for a 2nd audition and found that he can
      > follow the pitch on when they are below middle-C.(without adjusting
      > the female/male different, a typical bass should be singing
      > comfortably between E below middle-C to an octave above middle-C) He
      > just can not distinguish the pitch when it is higher. We ended up
      > admitted him to the chorus.
      >
      > If it is me, I will try to see whether I can sort out any pattern(I
      > know it is difficult - especially for a trained musician to ignore all
      > the "rules" we are so used to). I am wondering about your statement of
      > "arpeggio by 3rds", could that be a pattern?(Of course, you add "or
      > something" which indicates you are not so sure it is a 3rds)
      >
      > -Frank
      >
      > --- On Tue, 7/14/09, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@...
      > <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> > wrote:
      >
      > From: Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> >
      > Subject: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
      > To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com
      > >
      > Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 1:24 PM
      >
      > Any suggestions on how to help tone-deaf students? With one of my
      > students, if I provide a single pitch and ask her to imitate it, she
      > can't; the pitch she provides is off by at least 3 whole steps. Also,
      > she seems unable to sing a simple "do-re-mi".. .etc scale - instead of
      > advancing by whole steps and half steps, she's doing almost an
      > arpeggio by 3rds or something. She doesn't understand how small the
      > range is for whole steps and half steps.
      >
      > I don't know if she's clinically tone-deaf, but for all intents and
      > purposes she seems that way so far
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >



      - Deke Sharon
      TotalVocal - www.totalvocal.com � 800.579.9305
      CASA - www.casa.org � CAP - www.capublish.com
      The House Jacks - www.housejacks.com � Vybration - www.vybration.net



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Dan Rosenbaum
      East Coaster chiming in. I m agreeing with Deke here. Two anecdotal pieces of evidence: My father-in-law is a music lover. Attends tons of concerts, Discerning
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 17, 2009
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        East Coaster chiming in.

        I'm agreeing with Deke here. Two anecdotal pieces of evidence:

        My father-in-law is a music lover. Attends tons of concerts,
        Discerning listener, knows the difference between good bad and
        indifferent. But you really and truly don't want to ask him to sing.

        A kid I grew up with was a fairly talented trombone player. Trombone,
        of course, gives the player tons of latitude in tuning. (I guess
        that's phrased gently enough.) But Louis could not not not vocally
        match pitches against a piano. It was a little comical, actually.

        I suspect "tone-deafness" is something akin to hand-eye coordination.
        Some have it easily, some don't. Some can get good with practice.
        Some, not so much.

        If the kid's enjoying the lessons, he should keep working on it. If
        it's an agony for him, steer him elsewhere.

        An experiment: Try it the other way around. Sing a pitch, and see if
        he can find it on a piano. That, at least, takes muscular control of
        his vocal apparatus out of the equation.

        Good luck.

        best,
        dan

        On Jul 17, 2009, at 2:53 PM, Deke Sharon wrote:

        > My understanding is that very, very few people are actually tone deaf.
        >
        > A tone deaf person (clinically) will speak in a monotone, not even
        > rising at the end of a question - incapable of hearing any pitch.
        >
        > What you're probably dealing with is someone who has trouble matching
        > pitch, which is a different issue.
        >
        > There is someone in Japan who is working with this specific problem/
        > issue. The core lies in an inability to kick into head voice when
        > needed, so the intervals get shaved at the top of the chest voice.
        >
        > I'm no expert, but I'll bet there is hope. However, the person's not
        > going to be running before walking, and a cappella is often a full-on
        > sprint, even for experienced singers.
        >
        > Start with simple voice lessons, matching pitch, and when ready, a
        > simple chorus. Go slowly.
        >
        > But I do believe there is hope.
        >
        > (however, if the person is impatient, I echo Steven's comments below)
        >
        > On Jul 17, 2009, at 10:17 AM, Stephen Saxon wrote:
        >
        >> My two cents:
        >>
        >> I know, this is a difficult thing to consider. But this may be a
        >> person you
        >> should suggest pursue a different creative art or endeavor. I have
        >> had
        >> students who understood music theory, were generally creative
        >> individuals,
        >> and had a general disconnect between their ears and voices. I
        >> suggested one
        >> of them take up trumpet (I am also a professional trumpet player)
        >> because it
        >> just seemed to me that he might be able to explore music through that
        >> avenue.
        >>
        >> But when a person is essentially tone deaf, there is usually
        >> something
        >> behind that. Forcing the issue is kind of like trying to force
        >> someone who
        >> just doesn't understand form or color into an artist's training, or
        >> someone
        >> who has little or no hand-eye coordination into a little league
        >> experience.
        >> There is an indelicate saying, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it
        >> wastes
        >> your time and it annoys the pig." I'm not calling your student a
        >> pig!!!
        >> But there is no reason to believe that every single person is bound
        >> to be
        >> good at, or to even enjoy the art and experience of singing.
        >>
        >> I have found in dealing with many young people, including my own two
        >> children, that encouraging and enabling them to pursue areas of
        >> strength
        >> rather than areas of disability for them is often a very good way to
        >> teach
        >> them about success, hard work, and creativity. And it can uncover
        >> something
        >> for which they actually have a deep spark or interest.
        >>
        >> For a kid who isn't very musically oriented, creativity and
        >> accomplishment
        >> might be more easily found at a skate park. Go out with a camera and
        >> catch
        >> his or her best tricks and post them to the web. Or maybe s/he is a
        >> gifted
        >> swimmer. drive them to early morning practices and weekend meets.
        >> Learn the
        >> rules to water polo or lacrosse, or whatever it is. Or maybe that
        >> time
        >> could be better spent focusing on logic and debate, chess,
        >> mathletes, drama,
        >> scientific experiences, athletics, sculpture, woodshop skills, or
        >> something
        >> else.
        >>
        >> It was an important lesson for me to learn that even my own kids
        >> weren't
        >> really pre-disposed to being interested in the things at which I have
        >> excelled. Recognizing that, and then finding things that they can be
        >> really
        >> good at are two important roles for a mentor or responsible adult.
        >>
        >> Respectfully,
        >>
        >> Stephen.
        >>
        >> From: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com
        >> ] On
        >> Behalf Of Chih-Hung Chen
        >> Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:05 AM
        >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com; Kevin Lee
        >> Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
        >>
        >> Can she sing a song by herself without much issue on pitch? I once
        >> sat
        >> on a panel of a chorus audition and a guy came in that failed to sing
        >> scale correctly, can not follow the pitch that we play some random
        >> notes in piano(from a sequence of one note, two notes, and three
        >> notes). We thought this is an easy decision and we all relaxed into
        >> our seat. But then everyone sit straight when we heard he sang the
        >> piece of his choice. He has the best tone for all the basses that
        >> I've
        >> ever heard.
        >>
        >> We ended up invite him back for a 2nd audition and found that he can
        >> follow the pitch on when they are below middle-C.(without adjusting
        >> the female/male different, a typical bass should be singing
        >> comfortably between E below middle-C to an octave above middle-C) He
        >> just can not distinguish the pitch when it is higher. We ended up
        >> admitted him to the chorus.
        >>
        >> If it is me, I will try to see whether I can sort out any pattern(I
        >> know it is difficult - especially for a trained musician to ignore
        >> all
        >> the "rules" we are so used to). I am wondering about your statement
        >> of
        >> "arpeggio by 3rds", could that be a pattern?(Of course, you add "or
        >> something" which indicates you are not so sure it is a 3rds)
        >>
        >> -Frank
        >>
        >> --- On Tue, 7/14/09, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@...
        >> <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> > wrote:
        >>
        >> From: Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> >
        >> Subject: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
        >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com
        >>>
        >> Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 1:24 PM
        >>
        >> Any suggestions on how to help tone-deaf students? With one of my
        >> students, if I provide a single pitch and ask her to imitate it, she
        >> can't; the pitch she provides is off by at least 3 whole steps. Also,
        >> she seems unable to sing a simple "do-re-mi".. .etc scale - instead
        >> of
        >> advancing by whole steps and half steps, she's doing almost an
        >> arpeggio by 3rds or something. She doesn't understand how small the
        >> range is for whole steps and half steps.
        >>
        >> I don't know if she's clinically tone-deaf, but for all intents and
        >> purposes she seems that way so far
        >>
        >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >
        >
        >
        > - Deke Sharon
        > TotalVocal - www.totalvocal.com • 800.579.9305
        > CASA - www.casa.org • CAP - www.capublish.com
        > The House Jacks - www.housejacks.com • Vybration - www.vybration.net
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > ba-acappella: The Bay Area A Cappella Community
        > http://www.baac.net
        > To unsubscribe, send an email to unsubscribe@...
        > Sponsored by www.Local2Me.com: ask your neighbors!Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • elisqoe
        Having worked with a person who seemed tone deaf, I would like to contribute the notion that sometimes there is a lack of bodily awareness as to where the
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 17, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          Having worked with a person who seemed tone deaf, I would like to contribute the notion that sometimes there is a lack of bodily awareness as to where the person might sense vibrations while singing high or low pitches.

          This might be remedied if, while the coach is demonstrating the tones, he/she also touches the place on his/her own body (not the student's) where the vibration is easily felt and/or focused. With high pitches, one may feel the vibratory sensations from the cheek bones on up to the region of the third eye, whereas with low pitches, one can feel the vibratory sensation from the neck on down through the chest cavity, etc. Even if the student is not matching the pitch correctly, you can ask the student to indicate where the student is feeling the vibration of the tone in her/his body, and that may be useful to you, the coach, as you proceed through the lesson.

          I mention this because it may seem obvious to those for whom singing and matching pitch is natural, or who are accustomed to feeling the sensation of singing in their body. However, if the coach shows by personal example, like a yoga instructor does in a yoga class, the student may be able to make the connection in her/his own body.

          This is a simple technique I tried intuitively at one point, with positive results. But I cannot say definitively that it would work for you--I have only ever worked with one person who had this difficulty. Why this simple technique might work is not something I could not explain easily, but in short, recent scholarship on the brain has focused on networks of "mirror neurons" as being related to both learning by imitation, and also empathy. Patients with phantom limbs that have phantom pain have had their pain eased by seeing their actual other limb (being massaged) reflected in a mirror, so that its image is perceived by the patient to be the phantom limb in a state of "wholeness".

          Of course, the example I give has nothing to do with singing, but it is all about visual perception, combined with empathy and sensation... At any rate, worth a try.

          Teaching is a wonderful and creative challenge. I wish you all the best!

          Elisabeth Eliassen

          -----Original Message-----
          >From: Deke Sharon <deke@...>
          >Sent: Jul 17, 2009 2:53 PM
          >To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com
          >Cc: Chih-Hung Chen <chihhchen@...>, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@...>
          >Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
          >
          >My understanding is that very, very few people are actually tone deaf.
          >
          >A tone deaf person (clinically) will speak in a monotone, not even
          >rising at the end of a question - incapable of hearing any pitch.
          >
          >What you're probably dealing with is someone who has trouble matching
          >pitch, which is a different issue.
          >
          >There is someone in Japan who is working with this specific problem/
          >issue. The core lies in an inability to kick into head voice when
          >needed, so the intervals get shaved at the top of the chest voice.
          >
          >I'm no expert, but I'll bet there is hope. However, the person's not
          >going to be running before walking, and a cappella is often a full-on
          >sprint, even for experienced singers.
          >
          >Start with simple voice lessons, matching pitch, and when ready, a
          >simple chorus. Go slowly.
          >
          >But I do believe there is hope.
          >
          >(however, if the person is impatient, I echo Steven's comments below)
          >
          >On Jul 17, 2009, at 10:17 AM, Stephen Saxon wrote:
          >
          >> My two cents:
          >>
          >> I know, this is a difficult thing to consider. But this may be a
          >> person you
          >> should suggest pursue a different creative art or endeavor. I have had
          >> students who understood music theory, were generally creative
          >> individuals,
          >> and had a general disconnect between their ears and voices. I
          >> suggested one
          >> of them take up trumpet (I am also a professional trumpet player)
          >> because it
          >> just seemed to me that he might be able to explore music through that
          >> avenue.
          >>
          >> But when a person is essentially tone deaf, there is usually something
          >> behind that. Forcing the issue is kind of like trying to force
          >> someone who
          >> just doesn't understand form or color into an artist's training, or
          >> someone
          >> who has little or no hand-eye coordination into a little league
          >> experience.
          >> There is an indelicate saying, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it
          >> wastes
          >> your time and it annoys the pig." I'm not calling your student a
          >> pig!!!
          >> But there is no reason to believe that every single person is bound
          >> to be
          >> good at, or to even enjoy the art and experience of singing.
          >>
          >> I have found in dealing with many young people, including my own two
          >> children, that encouraging and enabling them to pursue areas of
          >> strength
          >> rather than areas of disability for them is often a very good way to
          >> teach
          >> them about success, hard work, and creativity. And it can uncover
          >> something
          >> for which they actually have a deep spark or interest.
          >>
          >> For a kid who isn't very musically oriented, creativity and
          >> accomplishment
          >> might be more easily found at a skate park. Go out with a camera and
          >> catch
          >> his or her best tricks and post them to the web. Or maybe s/he is a
          >> gifted
          >> swimmer. drive them to early morning practices and weekend meets.
          >> Learn the
          >> rules to water polo or lacrosse, or whatever it is. Or maybe that time
          >> could be better spent focusing on logic and debate, chess,
          >> mathletes, drama,
          >> scientific experiences, athletics, sculpture, woodshop skills, or
          >> something
          >> else.
          >>
          >> It was an important lesson for me to learn that even my own kids
          >> weren't
          >> really pre-disposed to being interested in the things at which I have
          >> excelled. Recognizing that, and then finding things that they can be
          >> really
          >> good at are two important roles for a mentor or responsible adult.
          >>
          >> Respectfully,
          >>
          >> Stephen.
          >>
          >> From: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com
          >> ] On
          >> Behalf Of Chih-Hung Chen
          >> Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:05 AM
          >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com; Kevin Lee
          >> Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
          >>
          >> Can she sing a song by herself without much issue on pitch? I once sat
          >> on a panel of a chorus audition and a guy came in that failed to sing
          >> scale correctly, can not follow the pitch that we play some random
          >> notes in piano(from a sequence of one note, two notes, and three
          >> notes). We thought this is an easy decision and we all relaxed into
          >> our seat. But then everyone sit straight when we heard he sang the
          >> piece of his choice. He has the best tone for all the basses that I've
          >> ever heard.
          >>
          >> We ended up invite him back for a 2nd audition and found that he can
          >> follow the pitch on when they are below middle-C.(without adjusting
          >> the female/male different, a typical bass should be singing
          >> comfortably between E below middle-C to an octave above middle-C) He
          >> just can not distinguish the pitch when it is higher. We ended up
          >> admitted him to the chorus.
          >>
          >> If it is me, I will try to see whether I can sort out any pattern(I
          >> know it is difficult - especially for a trained musician to ignore all
          >> the "rules" we are so used to). I am wondering about your statement of
          >> "arpeggio by 3rds", could that be a pattern?(Of course, you add "or
          >> something" which indicates you are not so sure it is a 3rds)
          >>
          >> -Frank
          >>
          >> --- On Tue, 7/14/09, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@...
          >> <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> > wrote:
          >>
          >> From: Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> >
          >> Subject: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
          >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com
          >> >
          >> Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 1:24 PM
          >>
          >> Any suggestions on how to help tone-deaf students? With one of my
          >> students, if I provide a single pitch and ask her to imitate it, she
          >> can't; the pitch she provides is off by at least 3 whole steps. Also,
          >> she seems unable to sing a simple "do-re-mi".. .etc scale - instead of
          >> advancing by whole steps and half steps, she's doing almost an
          >> arpeggio by 3rds or something. She doesn't understand how small the
          >> range is for whole steps and half steps.
          >>
          >> I don't know if she's clinically tone-deaf, but for all intents and
          >> purposes she seems that way so far
          >>
          >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >
          >- Deke Sharon
          >TotalVocal - www.totalvocal.com • 800.579.9305
          >CASA - www.casa.org • CAP - www.capublish.com
          >The House Jacks - www.housejacks.com • Vybration - www.vybration.net
          >
          >
          >
          >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >------------------------------------
          >
          >ba-acappella: The Bay Area A Cappella Community
          >http://www.baac.net
          >To unsubscribe, send an email to unsubscribe@...
          >Sponsored by www.Local2Me.com: ask your neighbors!Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
        • Kevin Ryan
          First thing is to establish if in fact there is a diagnosis of amusia- defects in rhythm pitch timbre harmonics and melody. This possibly genetically
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 17, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            First thing is to establish if in fact there is a diagnosis of amusia- defects in rhythm pitch timbre harmonics and melody. This possibly genetically determined and inheritable disorder has a prevalence of about 4% of the general population if one is using one of the components and less than 1% for all five listed above



            There are a number of ways this can be done and a correct diagnosis is essential before embarking on trials and tribulations that may or may not bear fruit proportionally to the validity of the diagnosis



            One on line test ( audiologists also can offer some testing as well as tests found available through centers with neuropsychological testing capabilities-most universities) testing is) http://www.delosis.com/listening/home.html



            More recent research suggest not only a possible hereditary component but an as yet non described molecular or neuroanatomic basis as the subconscious brain in some series of patients with the correct diagnosis retains the ability to discern these features of music while the conscious brain does not, it seems to disconnect.



            There are no well know proven highly effective therapeutic maneuvers when the diagnosis of amusia is established.,



            One can try to help individuals sense the associated cycles per second elicited in various body parts and adjunctive devices and train some association that way in a manner not too dissimilar from one small component of what Annie Sullivan did with Helen Keller ( remember , scripting signing and n lip reading with some functional cues were also used) but if the diagnosis is correct, there is really little one can effectively do as of yet.



            Here is some interesting reading



            Tune Deafness: Processing Melodic Errors Outside of Conscious Awareness as Reflected by Components of the Auditory ERP.
            Braun A, McArdle J, Jones J, Nechaev V, Zalewski C, et al.
            PLoS ONE 3(6): e2349.
            doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002349
            Click Here For Full Length <http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002349> Article





            Thanks



            DR Ryan who no kidding, uses the Nome De Guerre Tony Deaf in his pro bono performance, creative and music life



            From: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of elisqoe
            Sent: Friday, July 17, 2009 1:02 PM
            To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com
            Cc: Chih-Hung Chen; Kevin Lee
            Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student





            Having worked with a person who seemed tone deaf, I would like to contribute the notion that sometimes there is a lack of bodily awareness as to where the person might sense vibrations while singing high or low pitches.

            This might be remedied if, while the coach is demonstrating the tones, he/she also touches the place on his/her own body (not the student's) where the vibration is easily felt and/or focused. With high pitches, one may feel the vibratory sensations from the cheek bones on up to the region of the third eye, whereas with low pitches, one can feel the vibratory sensation from the neck on down through the chest cavity, etc. Even if the student is not matching the pitch correctly, you can ask the student to indicate where the student is feeling the vibration of the tone in her/his body, and that may be useful to you, the coach, as you proceed through the lesson.

            I mention this because it may seem obvious to those for whom singing and matching pitch is natural, or who are accustomed to feeling the sensation of singing in their body. However, if the coach shows by personal example, like a yoga instructor does in a yoga class, the student may be able to make the connection in her/his own body.

            This is a simple technique I tried intuitively at one point, with positive results. But I cannot say definitively that it would work for you--I have only ever worked with one person who had this difficulty. Why this simple technique might work is not something I could not explain easily, but in short, recent scholarship on the brain has focused on networks of "mirror neurons" as being related to both learning by imitation, and also empathy. Patients with phantom limbs that have phantom pain have had their pain eased by seeing their actual other limb (being massaged) reflected in a mirror, so that its image is perceived by the patient to be the phantom limb in a state of "wholeness".

            Of course, the example I give has nothing to do with singing, but it is all about visual perception, combined with empathy and sensation... At any rate, worth a try.

            Teaching is a wonderful and creative challenge. I wish you all the best!

            Elisabeth Eliassen

            -----Original Message-----
            >From: Deke Sharon <deke@... <mailto:deke%40totalvocal.com> >
            >Sent: Jul 17, 2009 2:53 PM
            >To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com>
            >Cc: Chih-Hung Chen <chihhchen@... <mailto:chihhchen%40yahoo.com> >, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> >
            >Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
            >
            >My understanding is that very, very few people are actually tone deaf.
            >
            >A tone deaf person (clinically) will speak in a monotone, not even
            >rising at the end of a question - incapable of hearing any pitch.
            >
            >What you're probably dealing with is someone who has trouble matching
            >pitch, which is a different issue.
            >
            >There is someone in Japan who is working with this specific problem/
            >issue. The core lies in an inability to kick into head voice when
            >needed, so the intervals get shaved at the top of the chest voice.
            >
            >I'm no expert, but I'll bet there is hope. However, the person's not
            >going to be running before walking, and a cappella is often a full-on
            >sprint, even for experienced singers.
            >
            >Start with simple voice lessons, matching pitch, and when ready, a
            >simple chorus. Go slowly.
            >
            >But I do believe there is hope.
            >
            >(however, if the person is impatient, I echo Steven's comments below)
            >
            >On Jul 17, 2009, at 10:17 AM, Stephen Saxon wrote:
            >
            >> My two cents:
            >>
            >> I know, this is a difficult thing to consider. But this may be a
            >> person you
            >> should suggest pursue a different creative art or endeavor. I have had
            >> students who understood music theory, were generally creative
            >> individuals,
            >> and had a general disconnect between their ears and voices. I
            >> suggested one
            >> of them take up trumpet (I am also a professional trumpet player)
            >> because it
            >> just seemed to me that he might be able to explore music through that
            >> avenue.
            >>
            >> But when a person is essentially tone deaf, there is usually something
            >> behind that. Forcing the issue is kind of like trying to force
            >> someone who
            >> just doesn't understand form or color into an artist's training, or
            >> someone
            >> who has little or no hand-eye coordination into a little league
            >> experience.
            >> There is an indelicate saying, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it
            >> wastes
            >> your time and it annoys the pig." I'm not calling your student a
            >> pig!!!
            >> But there is no reason to believe that every single person is bound
            >> to be
            >> good at, or to even enjoy the art and experience of singing.
            >>
            >> I have found in dealing with many young people, including my own two
            >> children, that encouraging and enabling them to pursue areas of
            >> strength
            >> rather than areas of disability for them is often a very good way to
            >> teach
            >> them about success, hard work, and creativity. And it can uncover
            >> something
            >> for which they actually have a deep spark or interest.
            >>
            >> For a kid who isn't very musically oriented, creativity and
            >> accomplishment
            >> might be more easily found at a skate park. Go out with a camera and
            >> catch
            >> his or her best tricks and post them to the web. Or maybe s/he is a
            >> gifted
            >> swimmer. drive them to early morning practices and weekend meets.
            >> Learn the
            >> rules to water polo or lacrosse, or whatever it is. Or maybe that time
            >> could be better spent focusing on logic and debate, chess,
            >> mathletes, drama,
            >> scientific experiences, athletics, sculpture, woodshop skills, or
            >> something
            >> else.
            >>
            >> It was an important lesson for me to learn that even my own kids
            >> weren't
            >> really pre-disposed to being interested in the things at which I have
            >> excelled. Recognizing that, and then finding things that they can be
            >> really
            >> good at are two important roles for a mentor or responsible adult.
            >>
            >> Respectfully,
            >>
            >> Stephen.
            >>
            >> From: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com> [mailto:ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com>
            >> ] On
            >> Behalf Of Chih-Hung Chen
            >> Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:05 AM
            >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com> ; Kevin Lee
            >> Subject: Re: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
            >>
            >> Can she sing a song by herself without much issue on pitch? I once sat
            >> on a panel of a chorus audition and a guy came in that failed to sing
            >> scale correctly, can not follow the pitch that we play some random
            >> notes in piano(from a sequence of one note, two notes, and three
            >> notes). We thought this is an easy decision and we all relaxed into
            >> our seat. But then everyone sit straight when we heard he sang the
            >> piece of his choice. He has the best tone for all the basses that I've
            >> ever heard.
            >>
            >> We ended up invite him back for a 2nd audition and found that he can
            >> follow the pitch on when they are below middle-C.(without adjusting
            >> the female/male different, a typical bass should be singing
            >> comfortably between E below middle-C to an octave above middle-C) He
            >> just can not distinguish the pitch when it is higher. We ended up
            >> admitted him to the chorus.
            >>
            >> If it is me, I will try to see whether I can sort out any pattern(I
            >> know it is difficult - especially for a trained musician to ignore all
            >> the "rules" we are so used to). I am wondering about your statement of
            >> "arpeggio by 3rds", could that be a pattern?(Of course, you add "or
            >> something" which indicates you are not so sure it is a 3rds)
            >>
            >> -Frank
            >>
            >> --- On Tue, 7/14/09, Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com>
            >> <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> > wrote:
            >>
            >> From: Kevin Lee <kevlee112@... <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> <mailto:kevlee112%40yahoo.com> >
            >> Subject: [ba-acappella] Dealing with a Tone-Deaf student
            >> To: ba-acappella@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com> <mailto:ba-acappella%40yahoogroups.com
            >> >
            >> Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 1:24 PM
            >>
            >> Any suggestions on how to help tone-deaf students? With one of my
            >> students, if I provide a single pitch and ask her to imitate it, she
            >> can't; the pitch she provides is off by at least 3 whole steps. Also,
            >> she seems unable to sing a simple "do-re-mi".. .etc scale - instead of
            >> advancing by whole steps and half steps, she's doing almost an
            >> arpeggio by 3rds or something. She doesn't understand how small the
            >> range is for whole steps and half steps.
            >>
            >> I don't know if she's clinically tone-deaf, but for all intents and
            >> purposes she seems that way so far
            >>
            >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >- Deke Sharon
            >TotalVocal - www.totalvocal.com • 800.579.9305
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            >The House Jacks - www.housejacks.com • Vybration - www.vybration.net
            >
            >
            >
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            >
            >
            >
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