Some years ago, well, quite a few years ago, when I was at school, our music teacher decided to form a choir. He stood in front of the class and raised his hand. When I drop my hand, you will all start singing, he told us. If I tap you on the head, stop singing, the choir is not for you. After a moment or two he dropped his hand, straight on to my head. I didn’t even have a chance to open my mouth.
As the teacher well knew, I was tone deaf.
Tone deaf meant that I could not recognize differences in pitch. I could not sing along with simple tunes and could not match the pitch of my voice to the pitch of the music being played.
At the time, this did not worry me. I had no interest in the choir and had better things to do with my time.
Only now do I find my tone deafness to be a real problem. I am at a terrible disadvantage.
In today’s world we need to be constantly alert; is it an e-mail, is it a message, is it just a phone call; what is our smartphone trying to tell us?
We have to contend with an ever-growing cacophony of beeps, squeaks, dings, pings, buzzes and ring tones. I have to remember if Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is my wife calling to add some potatoes to my shopping list or my garage to say that my car has been repaired and is ready for collection. The shopping list has its own problems, it’s on my smartphone and also beeps and whistles with enthusiasm but not clarity.
My car, not to be left out, makes quite a few strange noises. Rather illogically, it beeps twice when I lock it, even though I am standing by it and know exactly where it is, but only once when I unlock it and might need the extra beep to help me find it. When I put in the code to start the engine, it plays much the same tune if I get it right or make a mistake. Only when I try to start the engine do know if I was right, so why do I need the tunes?
When leaving a parking place, I reverse and get a row that is unpleasant even to my tone-deaf ears. Moving forwards is greeted by silence. From this I understand that I must not hit the car behind me but there is no problem if I smash into the one in front.
When I reach home, I press the remote to open the garage door. It beeps obediently, the remote not the door, that will not beep until it is fully open. I could, of course, do this with my Smartphone, but I prefer the remote’s short beep to the phone’s long-winded rendition of the La Marseillaise. (I have tried to get it to play Land of Hope and Glory but it seems to have something against the United Kingdom.)
If I were a Buddhist, I could listen to their idea of the Sound of Silence. But as a tone-deaf Jew, I will make do with my fellow Jews Simon & Garfunkel’s 1964 classic Sound of Silence.
I have a lot more to say but I hear the phone ringing, or is it the front doorbell, or possibly the microwave wants to tell me something. No, it’s just the new toaster proudly announcing that it has burnt the toast yet again.
Well, I got that right – my music teacher would have been proud of me.