If you can’t hear pitches reliably, you will almost certainly pitch your notes out of tune when you sing. On the other hand, if you can reliably sing in tune, you clearly have a good sense of pitch, so you are not tone deaf.
The two concepts are not quite the same, but there is a very strong connection between them – and ear training can help with both.
So if you are tone deaf you cannot sing in tune. However as long as you can pass a basic pitch sensitivity test, you can cure your “tone deafness” and you can learn to sing in tune.
By doing pitch ear training to improve your sense of pitch you can more reliably identify when notes are too high (sharp) or low (flat). This will cure your tone deafness.
By doing singing ear training (and regular singing practice) to improve your ability to accurately sing the notes you hear in your head, you will be able to sing in tune.
How can you tell if you’re singing in tune?
The most common way is to get feedback from other musicians. Generally they will be quick to tell you if you’re out of tune! Hopefully politely, but you may simply get a funny look as you sing…
This is useful for making you realise there’s room for improvement, but it doesn’t actually help you improve.
Here are some ways to tell if you’re singing in tune and get better at it:
- Work with a singing teacher
As part of your overall training as a singer, your teacher will be able to guide you to more reliable pitching of notes.
- Practice with a digital tuner
These little devices (or apps) are not solely for instrument players! In fact they’re one of the best tools available to a modern musician working to improve their pitching when singing. Learn more.
- Record yourself
If your sense of pitch is good but your tuning when singing is unreliable, it can help to record yourself singing and then listen back. Even if you couldn’t judge your tuning while singing, you may well be able to when hearing yourself afterwards.
A word of warning about that last point: it is always uncomfortable to listen to a recording of your own voice! You will get used to it over time, but bear in mind that you may feel some discomfort or harsh judgement of your voice even if you are actually singing in tune.
Each of these methods will help you improve your ear for judging pitch and tuning while simultaneously helping you improve your voice’s reliability at pitching notes.