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Can adults achieve perfect pitch?

Hi, I've been enrolled in Ken's streaming course for 11 months or so (although I am still on volume 3 LOL). I have been singing at church for a number of years as a back up singer and can harmonize fairly well, but wanted to step up my game which is why I enrolled. But lately, I'm feeling a bit discouraged. I started singing as a child and sang in school choirs and ensemble groups thru high school, but after that I did not sing (except in the shower) for about 12-13 years when I started singing at church. I have recorded my voice a handful of times since joining KTVA and I've noticed a few pitch problems here and there. I'm 48 years old now and I have noticed that it seems I have to work twice as hard in order to sing well - to be expected I guess, since your voice looses elasticity as you age. But I have seen some negative comments on line in regard to adults and perfect pitch. So tell me, is it truly possible for someone of my age to achieve perfect pitch, and if so, what exercises are recommended to focus specifically on this? I'm having to fight the urge to throw in the towel, despite my love for singing and music in general. Could really use some words of encouragement. Thank you.

Answers

  • Very few, and I mean very few people achieve "perfect pitch".

    "Perfect pitch" is being able to identify a note being played, or sang only by hearing it.
    In my lifetime (54 years) I've never met anybody that could do it.
    Being from Detroit, it's rumored that back in the old Motown days, one of the secretaries at the studio had perfect pitch, and would tell the guys when they were off key.

    I'm really not sure if it is even something you can learn.

    Peace, Tony
  • Jhenneberg88Jhenneberg88 Posts: 7STREAMING PRO
    Thanks Tony, I've heard that too. I've only met one person in my life with perfect pitch, but he was very young and quite frankly savant-like, incredibly gifted in music way beyond most people's abilities. But naturally I really want to strive to being as close to "on pitch" as I can possibly be. Hopefully someone might have some tips or suggestions for me.

    Regards,
    Janet
  • There are videos within the program, and the forum that deals with pitch issues.

    Peace, Tony
  • janne_oksanenjanne_oksanen Posts: 72.0 PRO
    According to Wikipedia after over 100 years of research there still has not been a documented case of an adult having acquired perfect pitch. So I'm going to say the chances are very slim.
  • VocalityVocality Posts: 9692.0 PRO
    edited March 2019
    Welome to the forum @janne_oksanen

    Watching a video on perfect pitch, thinks it's more about relative pitch, like anything we can improve on pitch but to reach perfect pitch as adult doubt that would happen and from what I heard people with perfect pitch begin to loose that from about 50 years onwards.

    Vocality
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Posts: 8192.0 PRO
    @Jhenneberg88 sorry you asked this a while ago, so I hope you did not throw in the towel yet & I'm not too late to say this:

    in order to sing on pitch, you don't need perfect pitch. i'd consider perfect pitch a freak talent that is not necessary (if it was necessary to play music, there probably would be a lot less music if any because let's face it not a lot of people have it). you can always work on your pitch with the exercises from the better pitch segment. working on support will also level out a lot of pitch issues.

    don't let not having perfect pitch stop you it is not a prerequisite
  • blondiewalesblondiewales Posts: 483Pro
    I agree with the above statements. You don't need perfect pitch to sing. I know someone who has perfect pitch, and sometimes she falls off key just like everyone else. With certain instruments, including vocals, I can tell if there's an off note better than she can. So I think what you're looking for is relative pitch.

    As for developing it... Yeah it's possible, in my opinion. I don't know about the "no documented cases" thing on Wikipedia, information there is often wrong and sometimes politically biased. At any rate, adults can develop it by "feeling" the note ring in their body. Long time skilled musicians already have it to a degree. However, I don't know about developing the perfect pitch that has you seeing colors and stuff.
  • NeilKenSingerNeilKenSinger Posts: 662.0 PRO

    Hi, I've been enrolled in Ken's streaming course for 11 months or so (although I am still on volume 3 LOL). I have been singing at church for a number of years as a back up singer and can harmonize fairly well, but wanted to step up my game which is why I enrolled. But lately, I'm feeling a bit discouraged. I started singing as a child and sang in school choirs and ensemble groups thru high school, but after that I did not sing (except in the shower) for about 12-13 years when I started singing at church. I have recorded my voice a handful of times since joining KTVA and I've noticed a few pitch problems here and there. I'm 48 years old now and I have noticed that it seems I have to work twice as hard in order to sing well - to be expected I guess, since your voice looses elasticity as you age. But I have seen some negative comments on line in regard to adults and perfect pitch. So tell me, is it truly possible for someone of my age to achieve perfect pitch, and if so, what exercises are recommended to focus specifically on this? I'm having to fight the urge to throw in the towel, despite my love for singing and music in general. Could really use some words of encouragement. Thank you.

    Yes an adult can produce perfect pitch. I'm living proof of this. But in order to have a complete musical ear, you also need to develop relative pitch too. Perfect pitch and relative pitch work together to make a complete musical ear.

    The best and ONLY ear training courses I'd recommend are David L Burge's Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch courses. They absolutely DO work, and WILL produce results IF you are willing to go through them properly, much like KTVA works if you are committed and dedicated too. Once you have developed a great musical ear with thorough ear training, every part of your musicianship will improve since music is a hearing art. Good luck!
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Posts: 3,486Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management
    Hi folks,

    I am actually doing a program on learning perfect pitch for adults. I am on it only for a few weeks but my hearing has improved a lot. @NeilKenSinger, thanks for mentioning the program. That could be of interest for me. Do you own the whole bundle?

    Doc
  • NeilKenSingerNeilKenSinger Posts: 662.0 PRO

    Hi folks,

    I am actually doing a program on learning perfect pitch for adults. I am on it only for a few weeks but my hearing has improved a lot. @NeilKenSinger, thanks for mentioning the program. That could be of interest for me. Do you own the whole bundle?

    Doc

    Hi Doc, that's great that you're doing a program for learning perfect pitch as an adult. As for the David L Burge courses, I bought them years ago on cassettes and went through them fully. I had both his perfect pitch and relative pitch courses. I know they are now available on cd, and maybe even as a downloadable or streaming version.

    Just as KTVA is the best singing course in the world, I see Burge's courses as the best and most comprehensive ear training courses on the market. They aren't cheap, but they will train your ear so thoroughly that you'll be able to listen to any piece of music and know immediately what key it's in, what the chords and melody notes are, and so forth, all by ear alone, even with really complicated pieces of music. They are challenging to get through, just like KTVA is a challenge, but boy do they work well.

    Here are his 2 courses:

    https://www.perfectpitch.com/minilesson.htm

    https://www.perfectpitch.com/relativepitch.htm

    Anyway whichever ear training course you decide to use, I wish you the best of luck!
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Posts: 3,486Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management
    Hi Neil, @NeilKenSinger

    many thanks for your info. I think this could really be a great choice for me. Since I am already spending a lot of work (and time) on my singing journey why not to intensify it by a solid ear training. Christmas is near and Ken's course was my own birthday day present to myself 17 months ago. Maybe I should think about a christmas present to myself this year. :smile:

    Thanks for you reply.

    Doc
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,225Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @doc_ramadani

    How is the perfect pitch coming along?
  • Chris82Chris82 Posts: 3132.0 PRO
    To add another answer the original question, I've actually spent a good amount of time researching this. What it boils down to is people are sort of divided on this question. Some people swear up and down that an adult can learn perfect pitch while others swear up and down that it can only be learned in the beginning part of your life baby-toddler age when your brain is still first developing.

    I do believe that it can be learned but not as an adult. Evidence that it can be learned? Well there have been studies that show that people who speak tonal languages tended to have a higher chance of having perfect pitch vs people who don't speak tonal languages.

    "To address this question, Deutsch and her colleagues compared 115 advanced music students from Rochester, New York, with 88 students from Beijing. In results to be presented at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Diego on November 17, the scientists found that the Mandarin speakers were much more likely to have absolute pitch than were English speakers who had started musical training at the same age. For example, 60 percent of Beijing students who had begun studying music between the ages of four and five years old passed a test for absolute pitch, whereas only 14 percent of the American students did. In both groups, students who started their musical instruction later were less likely to have absolute pitch, and none of the Rochester students that began training after their eighth birthday had the ability."

    Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/speaking-tonal-languages/

    So no, I don;t think a person can learn true perfect "absolute pitch" as an adult. It has to be learned in the younger years of child development. That doesn't mean you can't obtain really good relative pitch though.


  • VILHELMVILHELM Posts: 19Member
    Interesting.

    The course seems much cheaper here, than on his site. Although any
    reviewer that isn't verified could be one of his shills. Many naysayer reviews
    look real.

    https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Pitch-Ear-Training-SuperCourse/dp/0942542908/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Posts: 3,486Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management
    Hi @Bentk, and Hi Chris, @chris82,

    Ben, it is very nice to have back here again. It is always go to see you. A lot of your comments are still in my head and accompany me everyday.

    I am doing the practice on perfect pitch only for a few weeks now. So, certainly, I am not the person that can give you qualified feedback, yet. I started the training offered by Greg Bryll a few weeks ago: https://youtube.com/watch?v=jDeiWIpm1To.

    But what I noticed already after 4 weeks is that my hearing abilities have changed it an interesting way: I am able to distinguish harmonies much better. It feels like a new dimension - like changing from 2D to 3D. Also, I can tell much easier if there are, for example, 3 or 4 background vocals.

    Soon after I started KTVA I observed that I have a severe hearing issue. I wasn't able to sing a cappella. When I was singing to a backing track I was meandering through the harmonies. I had to find out the correct notes with the guitar and spend really a lot of time on learning melodies. This became much easier. After a private talk with @NeilKenSinger I decided to order the program by David L Burge. Actualy it is on its way to Germany. Hopefully it arrives soon.

    Until I prove the opposite I am sure that it is possible for adults to achieve at least a certain degree of perfect pitch. To improve relative pitch is possible for EVERYONE.

    I will keep you informed,

    Doc
  • VocalityVocality Posts: 9692.0 PRO
    Well I am actively doing relative pitch on tonedear.com, making progress steadily, started out on basic intervals Maj 3rd, Perfect 5th and octave.

    As you improve it automatically adds an extra interval, currently added 4 intervals and 7 to go which will take me up to Maj 9th. Like singing it’s a slow improvement little bit every day.

    In the town where I work we get public alarm test every year in December, we have chemical industry surrounding us. Alarm starts with oscillating tone, then onto a steady tone and I thought what note is the steady tone I reckoned it was a G. Grabbed my iPad and checked Singscope very close was out by 1 note. Tried the perfect pitch questions and there’s definitely improvement there as well.

    Vocality :)
  • Chris82Chris82 Posts: 3132.0 PRO
    That's very cool. I need to start doing ear training myself. I do believe it's quite beneficial (along with learning basic music theory) but I just wouldn't expect someone to develop perfect absolute pitch from the training.
  • VocalityVocality Posts: 9692.0 PRO
    edited December 2019
    @chris82

    Really getting benefit from it and you only need to spend about 20 minutes daily on the intervals thats most benefit to singing.

    George :)
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