What would you do if I sang out of tune?

5 Oct 2017
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Even my teddies couldn't stand my singing voice.

I loved to sing and I enjoyed listening to music. I could never understand why my parents would ask me to sing in my bedroom with the door closed.

When I was seven I first realised that other people also did not appreciate my singing.

My teacher divided the class into three groups: the good, the medium and the poor singers. She explained that as I had the worst and loudest voice in the class, I would have to sit outside during singing lessons.

Back then teachers had apparently not heard of the phrase self-esteem, or cared about the effect of isolating a seven-year-old during her favourite lesson.

At a residential school as part of my Graduate Diploma in Education I listened to the music lecturer say that everyone was musical and that he believed that there was no such thing as being tone deaf. After patiently listening to me attempt to sing a simple song in tune for half an hour, he was wondering if he had met his first tone deaf person.

My son wanted to learn the guitar at age ten, so I decided I would try to learn as well so I could play songs for the special needs children I worked with. I noticed how the children loved the weekly lesson with the music teacher.

I had read how incorporating music during the day would promote learning and a calmer environment, and so I was prepared to try to forget years of ridicule to learn the guitar.

After a few weeks, the teacher explained I would improve with personal instruction. She meant my son was being held back by his mum. She had learnt about self-esteem and knew how fragile mine was.

I really wanted to play in front of my students but the patient guitar teacher thought I should wait until I improved playing the basic guitar chords. She was patient and realistic.

Finally one week, when the music teacher was away, the students were disappointed so I decided to play my guitar and sing a few songs. The children seemed to like it and I felt good I finally had found an appreciative audience.

However one teacher told me that the words coming out of my mouth and the music I played on the guitar were totally different. Another told my singing was like a cat in pain and that I was torturing the guitar.

Those teachers had no respect for my self esteem but believed in tough love!

So you may think I sold the guitar and never sung in public again.

Not me. Since the children enjoyed my playing, I would play with no adults around. I did that until the guitar 'disappeared' never to be found!

Have you ever taken a risk and tried something you were not skilled at?

Is there something you would like to try but are worried what other people may say or think?

Leah

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

LP

Oct. 5, 2017, 11:56 p.m.

Still awake and love that song Leah!

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:17 a.m.

LP , I like that song too. My friends would reply yes they would walk out on me!!

LP

Oct. 6, 2017, 6:24 p.m.

Not me! :) xx

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:53 p.m.

LP That is very kind but then again you have not heard me sing!!

Molly

Oct. 6, 2017, 1:34 a.m.

We'll get by with a little help from our friends :-) I love the photo Leah, will certainly beat my four bunnies photo !! I never felt heard as a child and it often happens now to be honest ! I got talked over and so went into my shell. If someone wants to listen to me these days, I won't shut up. If anyone shows boredom in any sense, I am offended and will shut up and if they talk over me, then I go back into that shell that is there waiting for me and choose not to speak at all ! Then I am seen to be odd for not speaking ! As for singing, I was never very good so I won't suggest we perform a duet for a talent competition. You have reminded me though, how cruel some of the teachers could be ! However you overcame it and pleased the students. A heart warming blog, that really puts a message out there. I think the message (at least partly) is to just be ourselves? Love Molly xx

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Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:23 a.m.

Molly, Thanks for your reply. It is sad that you never felt heard as a child and even now you don't feel heard. I think we do need a little help from our friends. Leah

Oli

Oct. 6, 2017, 6:43 a.m.

Same thing Leah -- told by teachers that I couldn't sing; told by teachers that I couldn't play. They were sending the message: music is not for the likes of you. A year or so later punk came along and the "rules" changed. I still couldn't sing or play but it didn't matter any more. Long time ago now. I'm gigging tonight. (Like most weekends.) I can play and sing well now -- 40 years of practise and thousands of gigs will do that for you. And amongst all the nice stuff that I perform I'll often throw in an old punk song and they go down well. Tonight, cos of this post and these thoughts, there will definitely be a Pistols or a Ramones number -- and I ain't gonna sing it in tune and that's how people wannna hear it. Best. Therapy. Ever.

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:20 a.m.

Oil, Thanks for your comment. I think I was too old for punk and did not like a safety pin through my nose. I have been singing for over 50 years but I am still out of tune!! Thanks for sharing your memories. Leah

Orangeblossom

Oct. 6, 2017, 6:53 a.m.

Hi Leah, you write a great blog which I always enjoy reading. Thanks Leah. It also resonated for me like a loud, clanging bell. Your fortitude & resilience in the face of disappointment is a great encouragement.

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Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:22 a.m.

Orangeblossom Maybe it was sheer stubbornness not fortitude. Thanks for your comment.

LP

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:34 a.m.

Great photo too Leah :) I admire your determination to enjoy something that you love Leah. Never say never in my book! :) Finding he right teacher might be the key. Practice and time are bound to help you to enjoy it even more and in the meantime sing to your hearts content, with or without your guitar and with or without an audience! Sing like no one is listening! What would I do if you sang out of tune? I'd join in! :) my voice gives out with any highish notes so we'd have a blast! :)) Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last the whole day long, Altogether now!... Thanks for your uplifting photo and blog Leah. Wishing an enjoyable sing song to you and all, even if only a memory of an old favourite Love LP xx

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Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:24 a.m.

LP Thanks for your comment. Thanks for singing along,it was fun.

The librarian

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:49 a.m.

Hello Leah, I really admire your determination too, Leah! I love singing and know something is wrong if I don't want to listen to music or there's no music in my head. I think it's a sort-of 'good object' for me. I once spend a few days on a Danish island on my own, with no music player of any kind and no radio, and my internal juke box kept me entertained the entire time. There are lots of things I am not skilled at and I'm not very good at giving things a go - being close to others is probably the thing at the top of the list at the moment but I'm not sure how one learns such a skil... All the best.

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Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:37 a.m.

The librarian, Thanks for your comment. I am not sure it is detrmination just stubbornness.

Molly

Oct. 6, 2017, 10:48 p.m.

I am interested in what you say Librarian, because I always have a song in my head but it drives me mad, I want the song to go away, yet you see it as an internal juke box, that has really intrigued me xx

Leah

Oct. 7, 2017, 4:36 a.m.

Molly, The song in my head that I cant let go means others around me wish I would stop singing it as I only cope when I am singing it. Thanks for your comment.

The librarian

Oct. 7, 2017, 9:24 a.m.

Hello Molly. I find the music in my jukebox head comforting. I have music in my head (but don't necessarily sing it) if I'm happy, nervous, agitated, sad, though it goes when I'm depressed. There are some that stick and get irritating though, and it drives me mad when I can't quite remember the tune or the words - just a sense of it - or if I can't remember WHAT IT IS!

Leah

Oct. 7, 2017, 9:47 p.m.

Librarian, That is interesting about the music but not singing as I suppose if the music is in my head I want to sing it then get sock of the same words!! I can relate to not quite knowing a tune but still being stuck with it- maybe it is something that is ungoogleable.

Molly

Oct. 7, 2017, 11:21 p.m.

Librarian, mine is mainly present when depressed so I must be the other way around. It doesn't really involve words or remembering the words for me, just a constant part of a song over and over. Leah, everything is googleable!! This is called earworm - it is suggested that you play the whole song to get rid of the one line or so but it doesn't work for me!

Jul

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:33 a.m.

I tried singing in a group about a year ago. Something I've wanted to do for ages but never got round to. My voice isn't great and I would never sing a solo but the group is fun ..men and women. We meet every week and this week sang some popular songs in a residential home for the elderly which the audience could sing along to. Most of us didn't know we could sing before we joined and there are some great voices amongst us. It's good to have male voices in our group. So I guess it's taken me years to pluck up courage to join a group which was already well established but I was welcomed with open arms, given sheets with the lyrics on and started to sing with the others and the keyboard player. Jul xx

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:42 a.m.

Jul, Thanks for your comment. That group sounds great but I once went to a day workshop and I was made to be quiet for much of the day!! So much for a fun day of singing. I am glad you found a welcoming group.

The Gardener

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:08 a.m.

Group singing is fun - sung in lots of choirs, and love singing in different languages - Slav great. BUT, the self-esteem bit - no easy let-down, I think

Sally

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:11 a.m.

Good for you, Jul. I like this idea a lot. Win-win.

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:16 a.m.

Gardener People who sing in choirs can sing in tunes they don't want people who can't hold a tune!!

Sally

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:10 a.m.

Leah, you are one of life’s inspirers. How awful of that teacher! How destructive some of the behaviour you describe by people who ought to have known better, but YOU are definitely the star in all this, as you have clearly understood the meaning of resilience and applied it. Well done you for persevering! I was a very clumsy dancer, no coordination, people/ family especially made fun of me, but I persevered . Ok, so my sister is still far better at dancing, but no matter. It is a pastime I can enjoy now without the inhibitions that would have crippled me decades ago. Live and let live. Well done, Leah. Another great blog. Virtual hugs, Sally

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:15 a.m.

Sally Thanks for your kind words. I am one of life's plodders. I can sing while you dance. Your comments are always encouraging. That is a real talent.

Molly

Oct. 6, 2017, 10:57 p.m.

I come from a dancing family, it was one of my hopes to dance, I had the height, I had the posture, I had the co-ordination, but I was as stiff as a board, because I had no confidence. I now just dance in my living room when I get the energy and as they say 'dance like no one is watching'. In my living room, no-one is watching, apart from my husband, who just probably thinks I have had to much to drink :-)

Leah

Oct. 7, 2017, 4:39 a.m.

Molly, Do you have the confidence now?. I would like the posture and the co-ordination. I dance in my kitchen. I am glad you at least dance like no-one is watching.

Molly

Oct. 7, 2017, 11:24 p.m.

Gosh no Leah, I have less confidence now than I did back then ;-) and I am far too old to start to dance. I smiled at you dancing in the kitchen, I imagined you getting up on the units with your mop and bucket :-) xx

Leah

Oct. 8, 2017, 12:01 a.m.

Molly I don't get up on things to dance as I hurt my foot once while attempting to dance on a table- that is all I will reveal. I do sing when I mop, I like mopping. xx

Molly

Oct. 8, 2017, 1:11 a.m.

:-) xx

the room above the garage

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:16 a.m.

Oh Leah, all those people completely missing the point!! You enjoy singing and playing!! And if someone is enjoying themselves, then someone else does too. By default! Sing ON. I would love to sing with you. Love ratg x.

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Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:20 a.m.

Thanks ratg, I suppose there is a time and place. I now sing in the shower and when I did housework.

The Gardener

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:17 a.m.

Your bears, Leah! You can feel their anguish from the photo. I don't think there is an easy way of telling somebody they cannot sing. From an early age you sing as a group - 7 year olds for the Christmas concert - a class taking assembly. If somebody is making a horrible noise (often very loudly) they cannot be allowed to spoil the rest. And the 'musical ear' is a real thing. Mr G loved singing, most enthusiastic when he knew a hymn in church. But his singing was a 'drone' even when played the same tune on a disc he HEARD what he thought HE was singing - same for pronunciation of French - he manages very well - but sometimes when not understood, he will insist he was saying the same as the others. Virtual deputations have begged him not to sing. Behind me in church last week was a man whose voice never really broke - it is weird, and, of course he 'sings' really loudly. Does any who knows the film 'Pretty Woman' remember Julia Roberts singing along to a song she was listening to through earphones? Awful, but then she had no audience, (except for a fascinated Richard Gere). Best was Sister Act - that huge 'nun' who would have made an excellent foghorn.

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 9:23 a.m.

The gardener, Your comments as usual are fascinating. I was the loud horrible noise that spoiled the rest but don't you think people could have been kinder!!

Adrian

Oct. 6, 2017, 10:06 a.m.

Hi Leah, had a similar experience at boarding school aged 12, fist singing lession with 60 others, asked to sing scales as group, choir master grimse, told left half to stop singing, told more and more to stop singing and sit, until down to me. There I was last boy standing " You boy - sing the scales". I got to Ray when he shouted " OUT, OUT and never come back" I made the long walk out and never took up singing or music since. A x

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 10:09 a.m.

Adrian, I can feel the pain of your long walk. That is so sad that a teacher can be so cruel. Do ever sing when alone? Thaks for sharing your story.

The Gardener

Oct. 6, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

Adrian and Leah - I still do not know any way of letting someone down lightly, especially when it needs a process of elimination. Perhaps a hug, if a child, and tell them there are lots of other things they will shine at

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:01 p.m.

TG Thanks for your comment. Maybe for a very young child create activities where one does not have to be left out. In a classroom singing should be a friendly not a compeitive activity. If choirs are needed that can be done outside the lesson and the choosing process done with compassion. Also these days a teacher may be in trouble giving a hug. I knew and still know I can't sing so I try not to put myself in places where I will be included and not rejected, thats why I only sing alone!!

Mary Wednesday

Oct. 6, 2017, 7:21 p.m.

Sports. All sports. Never any good at any of them (except swimming) but I found out that if you put the effort in, it was much more enjoyable. I was still picked last for every team, but tried my best. Possibly not at tennis though; I have never been able to hit that ball! My tennis racket invariably has a large hole in it; the ball goes right through!

Reply

Leah

Oct. 6, 2017, 8:06 p.m.

Mary thanks for your comment. I am also no good at any sport including swimming. Also for me ll the effort in the world does not make them enjoyable if they are a team sport. I was often not picked at all for sports and usually tried to be sick during sports lessons! I could not serve at tennis at all and spent 3 years in the beginners class! At least you can sing and swim.

Molly

Oct. 6, 2017, 11:07 p.m.

I was never any good at sports - confidence issue again maybe. I remember throwing a shotput and it not going very far and everyone laughed at me. I cannot swim and was never taught. Hockey was a bit easier as I had a stick as my weapon. Netball, I dreaded getting the ball as I then had to do something with it. I then learnt years later that there are two ***** you have to contend with, still trying to figure that out too xx

Leah

Oct. 7, 2017, 4:42 a.m.

Molly, I am confused by two ***** in netballs,maybe ZUK has different rules!! I was scared of hockey as the wild girls would hit your shins and not worry where the ball was!! xx

Molly

Oct. 7, 2017, 11:26 p.m.

Leah, I was being a bit rude and thought I was being really funny !! Must stay off the red wine xx

Leah

Oct. 7, 2017, 9:57 p.m.

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments and sharing your story. I always smile that the people who encourage me to sing and say your voice can't be that bad have never heard me sing!! I have learnt that singing in the shower is great therapy for me. Who knew teddy bears had such good taste.

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Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope

Oct. 7, 2017, 10:52 p.m.

Leah, I am tone deaf and it didn't really matter at school but later when I was in the work place we had Karaoke evenings. I managed a few group songs without getting found out, but they insisted I did a song on my own. I said OK, I'm awful, here you go. They never asked me again. Lol.xx

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Molly

Oct. 7, 2017, 11:33 p.m.

Lol Caroline. This reminded me of something. I have always refused to do Karaoke, my worst nightmare being on the stage! Then once in Tenerife, the singer took my hand and led me to the stage and I willingly went with him and sung with him. My word, I cannot believe I did it, but I got a round of applause (probably through sheer pity) I am pretty sure I must have sounded awful, I just happened to have a new dress on (confidence boost) and I knew the words !! I wish my husband had recorded it (ok maybe not) xx

Leah

Oct. 8, 2017, 12:04 a.m.

Caroline, I too only sing in groups at Karaoke, and I try to avoid it but in the late 90s karaoke were popular at parties.Good thing that fad has passed and I do not go to parties any more!!xx

Mark

Oct. 24, 2017, 9:24 a.m.

I am minded to note that nature itself has some of the strangest noises going. Yes, we can all admire the nightingale, blackbird, thrush, wren and lesser known blackcap, but who is to say that their musical talent is any greater than the wail of the peacock, the cackle of the kookaburra, the squawk of a parrot, the yelp of a raven or other such noises. As with beauty, it is determined by the perception of the beholder, or in this case the listener. Keep singing if it brings you joy. And hark not the critics. The peacock doesn't and a right din he can make when he wants to!

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