First things first: you probably aren’t truly “tone deaf”!

Generally when people describe themselves (or others) as “tone deaf”, what they mean is “they can’t hear pitches well” or simply “they can’t sing in tune”.

Often this is assumed to be an inherent trait of a person, going hand-in-hand with whether they “are musical”. However, it is only a very tiny proportion of the population (about 4%) who actually have a clinical condition (amusia) preventing them from appreciating differences in pitch. You can take an online tone deaf test to see if you might have this clinical condition.

Only 4% of people are truly tone deaf

In the vast majority of cases, struggling to hear pitch or stay in tune actually boils down to lack of training. Most often, a bad childhood experience of music education (e.g. being told they “can’t sing”) leads to them not engaging with music learning, not practising, and simply assuming they “aren’t musical” forever more.

What a tragedy! And such an unnecessary one.

How to cure tone