Have you ever worried that you’re “tone deaf” or can’t sing? Or do you have a friend or family member who just can’t seem to sing in tune or in key? In today’s podcast episode we’re joined by a true expert who’s had some phenomenal results helping those who “can’t sing” to start singing in tune.

George was someone we reached out to when doing research a few years back for our Tone Deaf Test and SingTrue projects at Musical U.

Throughout his teacher career, George repeatedly found himself faced with students who just couldn’t seem to hold a tune and were reluctant to get involved in choir. He started “experimenting” with how to help them, and now with his “Music at Monkton” blog he regularly shares insights, techniques and triumphs as he goes about his work teaching music and leading choirs at a secondary school in the United Kingdom.

In this episode George shares:

  • The most important lessons he learned from entering music contests as a child
  • What can sometimes be missing from choirs – and the power of putting it in place
  • How he helped just a couple – and then a whole horde – of shy teenagers to “calibrate” their voices and go from thinking they’re tone deaf to singing capably and confidently in front of people.
  • The specific three-part approach George uses to create this transformation.

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re tone deaf or thought you just “can’t sing” – or if you’re a teacher who has faced people who feel that way and wanted to help them – this episode is one not to be missed!

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If you've ever worried about being out of tune or off-key when you sing, don't miss this interview with a man who's found a solution.



Amazing. I love talking to George because he has such clarity and insight about this challenge of helping people learn to sing in tune. And the wonderful benefits in musicality and confidence that come from it.

I think you’d agree he’s brave to choose teenagers as his target students for this! But I think in a way that most-challenging case has helped him really hone his method fast.

Let’s recap the big points from this conversation.

George was someone who was immersed in music-making as a child and found that piano and singing both came quite naturally to him. But he also learned a lot from watching others perform about what makes for an effective and musical performance.

And in choir he looked up to those more experienced and learned from them, as well as a deputy choirmaster who took them through exercises and tests, with progress marked on a board.

They started simple, just following your notes with a finger on the page as you sang. Then naming notes, and recognising intervals. Exercise of “no jumps” sight-singing just within the scale, and then the more advanced version which could skip notes.

George started teaching and realised that for the young students it should be about enjoying and creating at the piano, not just about playing notes perfectly. He’s since brought that spirit to all his teaching, including teenagers and adults.

Despite being someone to whom singing came naturally and who took for granted being able to sing “in tune”, George took on the task of helping anyone at his school to learn to sing in tune, even those who were convinced they were tone deaf.

He discovered a simple three-part process he could use, to help people “calibrate” their voice:

  1. Part 1: Taking aim – hearing a sung note (not one played on piano!), a note within your range – then taking a moment to imagine in your head yourself singing it before you actually try to.
  2. Part 2 is Breath support. As he put it: “You might need a bit more energy for those top notes”
  3. Then Part 3 is Confidence – and this can be a virtuous cycle, as people see that they can in fact sing one note in tune, and then a few notes, that gradually builds their confidence – and that confidence then feeds back into an enthusiasm for learning and stronger performances.

After having success “experimenting” with this three-part approach and helping a couple of students he was bold enough to form the “Choir who can’t sing” – which ironically now can! He welcomed all those students who thought they couldn’t sing and over the last several years he’s helped dozens of students to transform from certain they were tone deaf and too shy to open their mouths, to great-sounding confident singers able to take part in impressive concerts and inspiring “flash mob” performances.

So if you have felt unsure or self-conscious about your own singing ability, or if you’ve encountered others who do and wished you knew how to help them, I hope you found this episode inspiring and that it encouraged you to apply some of George’s ideas.

Thanks for listening to this episode! As always, you’ll find links to the blog posts, videos and other resources we mentioned on the shownotes page. And please do reach out to George via the Music@Monkton blog, it’s musicatmonkton.com, and let him know you enjoyed this episode.

Stay tuned for our next episode where I’ll be sharing a specific exercise George uses to help people find “their note” and take their first step in singing in tune.

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