Many universities have performance choirs, but the one at Morley College, an adult- education school in London, has an unusual caveat: It’s a chorus for people who can’t sing.
For the past 15 years, the school has run both choirs and special classes for people who want to learn to sing better (or at all).
But what about the truly tone-deaf, you ask? Those who couldn’t carry a tune in a basket?
Less than 2 percent of the students the choir’s director, Andrea Brown, encounters are actually tone-deaf, she told the BBC. The rest simply have “their own unique voice.”
Brown’s experience tracks with the findings of a new study out in the journal Music Perception, which suggests that singing is not so much a natural ability as it is a skill that withers away if not practiced.
For the study, researchers Steven Demorest and Peter Pfordresher compared how well a group of kindergarteners, sixth graders, and college-aged adults performed on three tasks that involved singing a series of notes.
The kindergarteners, unsurprisingly, couldn’t hit the notes very accurately, but the sixth graders were markedly better—perhaps because the children had been receiving music education in the intervening time.
However, the college-aged participants performed only as well as the kindergarteners on two of the three singing tasks.