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Tone Deaf: An Unwelcome Dilemma for an Educator

Harmony is a beautiful thing—both in music and within an organization. 

Think of the Beach Boys singing, “Good Vibrations.”
Or Simon & Garfunkle's, “The Sound of Silence.”
Or, my top favorite, “Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles.

Harmony is very difficult when someone in the group is tone deaf and either unable or unwilling to pick up on the vibe and wisely adjust accordingly.  

Tone deafness can also be applied in relationships and professional settings, where some are unable to discern the tenor at the time and are off-key in their messages. They may be deliberately out of tune in an effort to poison the culture, or it may be a failure to realize the tensions being caused—an unwelcome dilemma for an educator.


As goofy as it sounds, I try to sing in the morning. It's hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone - particularly in my case, because I'm tone deaf, and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity.
— Gretchen Rubin

Growing up I played in the band and sang in the choir. I was as devoted to music as I was to learning Spanish—unfortunately, doing just enough to get by. However, I learned enough to benefit from the discipline, creativity, and spatial thinking that are proven to be valuable outcomes from learning to correctly read music, play an instrument, and sing.

One of my favorite musical memories was singing in the youth choir at church. We all had different levels of talent—some with a voice well-suited for featured solo parts and the rest, like me, who were more effective when blended in with others. 

A few had a desire to sing but struggled to find the right key. Listening to a person who is tone deaf sing requires a special level of love because it gets uncomfortable. (Shout out to all those music teachers who share the love every day!) Failing to realize their limitations could lead to even more volume and boldness in form. They wanted to be heard!

Man's sensitivity to little things and insensitivity to the greatest things are marks of a strange disorder.
— Blaise Pascal

Tone deafness in the school is equally disruptive to harmony and culture. This inability to recognize insensitive behavior can be found at any level within the organization, but it becomes even more flagrant for those in leadership positions because of the negative impact on trust and the poor behavioral example.

A worthwhile education enables greater wisdom and develops a profound humility,
leading to a deeper understanding of ourselves and sensitivity to the needs of others.

Tonal awareness elevates self-intelligence and our ability to learn, lead, and thrive. 

Tonal awareness enables us to hear the voices of others to reveal delightful harmony.

Tonal awareness helps us adjust our approach to be more effective and consistent.

Tonal awareness opens us to higher levels of creativity to solve problems together. 

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, 
through which God speaks to us 
every hour, if we will only tune in. 
— George Washington Carver

Avoid the temptation to lapse into tone deafness, my friend, diligently staying attuned to the people and spirit around you.  This enables you to master the emotional signals that are core to healthy communications and relationships. It's like music, where the pitch, pace, and patterns all contribute to a certain feeling of connection with others.


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