Sophomore Katelyn Swanson has perfect pitch allowing to excel musically.
Pitch-perfect prodigy
Madelynn Soberano
Sophomore Katelyn Swanson has perfect pitch allowing to excel musically.

Pitch-perfect prodigy

Sophomore Katelyn Swanson has Perfect pitch meaning she can identify notes simply by hearing them

According to Scientific American, perfect pitch is the ability to hear a musical note and identify it with no context, and about one in 10,000 people have it. The Antioch Community High School choir program has been fortunate to have quite a few students with perfect pitch in ensembles over the years. 

“This is my 10th year in a row having at least one student with perfect pitch,” ACHS Choir director and fine arts department chair Micheal Hickey said. 

This year, the choir program has two students with perfect pitch: senior Redmond Helig and sophomore Katelyn Swanson. Swanson was able to share some insight into what it is like to have perfect pitch. Swanson did not discover she had perfect pitch until she was about nine or 10 years of age. 

“I’ve always had it, so I didn’t realize it was anything different from what people normally experience until I saw a video on YouTube talking about how certain people can name a note when it’s played and how it’s called perfect pitch,” Swanson said. “I knew I could do that, so I just figured out I had it. Even after that, I didn’t realize other things about it weren’t normal until I entered high school.”

 She is not the only person in her family with perfect pitch, her younger brother also has it. Swanson can tell the pitch of any sound if she pays attention to it. 

“I can sort of turn it on and off when I choose, but sometimes it randomly kicks in,” Swanson said. “For example, if I’m bored in class, I might start hearing the pitches that my teacher is speaking in or if I’m trying to fall asleep I’ll be able to tell what note my fan is buzzing at. This is cool, but can also be annoying or distracting.” 

Swanson is highly involved in the fine arts department at ACHS. She is a member of the Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, Acapella Choir, Jazz Choir and Madrigal Choir at ACHS. She has a deep passion for music. She plays Violin, Viola, Guitar, a bit of Piano, Cello, Electric Bass and Ukulele. She started playing Violin at age six. Swanson says music has always come naturally to her.                                                                                                                                                                       

 “I remember when I was seven, I sat at the keyboard in my basement and just began playing a melody I had heard in a movie,” Swanson said. I didn’t know how to play piano or what keys were which note, but I could figure it out by pressing the keys and determining it by ear.”

Without her perfect pitch, she does not think music would come as easy or naturally to her. This is very common among people with perfect pitch. 

“When I have a person with perfect pitch, they are normally the first person to learn the music as it is much easier for them,” Hickey said. “I don’t have to focus on their section as much as the rest of the section can learn from the person with perfect pitch.” 

Swanson says that although she enjoys how having perfect pitch has made her musical experience easier, it can also be irritating, especially in group settings.

 “If singing is off-key, it will definitely bother me,” Swanson said. “When I think about it, the bell will actually bother me because it is between two notes. Pretty much any noise that’s flat or sharp from the note it’s closest to will bother me. Train horns are also annoying because they are very dissonant and out of tune.” 

If she does not think about the sounds they do not bother her as much. However, singing with others can bother her as she can hear all of the errors among her peers.

“I have talked with many students who have perfect pitch and they don’t necessarily like having it,” Hickey said. “It can be hard to sing in groups when you have perfect pitch as so many singers around you can be just a bit over/under pitch and it can make it difficult to enjoy the process.”

Having perfect pitch has never really created many challenges for her. She did recall her experience with the clarinet, which is tuned in a different way than standard tuning, which made her think she was playing the wrong notes. This frustrated her so much that she quit Clarinet. Now she looks back on it as a funny memory. 

Swanson’s perfect pitch has helped her journey as a musician and aided her understanding of music. She believes that without her perfect pitch, she would not be as talented as a musician as she is today. 

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About the Contributors
Maddie Eul
Maddie Eul, Tom Tom Staff
Maddie Eul is a senior and this is her first year on staff. She is a member of tri-m, NHS and the varsity scholastic bowl team. In her spare time, she enjoys writing her own music, reading, training her cockatiels, Tweety and Stormi and hanging out with friends.
Madelynn Soberano
Madelynn Soberano is a fourth-year teacher at Antioch Community High School. She is a 2016 ACHS alumna and the previous News Editor and Digital Director of the Tom Tom.  She graduated from Illinois State University in 2020 and majored in English Education. She has Disney adult tendencies but is not a Disney adult. She highly enjoys fall and cheesy gordita crunches from Taco Bell. Soberano is excited for the upcoming school year and being back with the Tom Tom staff.

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