Some people think they've missed their opportunity to learn how to sing. Others might think they just don't have that God-given ability. Whatever the reason, you shouldn't be let to believe that you can't learn to sing. In this article, I will explain why anybody can sing if they get lessons, so don't give up on yourself just yet.
Anyone with a functioning voice can learn to sing. Learning to sing involves strengthening the muscles in your throat and training them to work together to produce a good sound. It also involves being able to identify and correct mistakes in your singing, such as having the wrong rhythm or pitch.
I will explain more further down why anyone can sing, including some famous singers that struggled to sing at first. If you're keen to get started, you will also find a brief guide to how you can begin your singing journey.
Why Anybody can Sing with Lessons
Although some people are born with a natural ability to pitch a note or produce a beautiful tone, anybody who has the ability to talk can sing. With the right training, some can even shatter glass!
You would think that all famous singers were born with that natural gift, but that's simply not the case. Singers such as Shakira, Ronan Keating, Colbie Caillat and even Elvis Presley all were told early in their singing career that they could not sing or didn't have potential. And look at what they achieved!
The common theme here is that each of these people had persistence, passion and dedication. They didn't let their perceived inability to sing stop them from pushing forward. They pushed through the criticism and worked hard to improve their singing voices.
This leads me to the two key learning requirements when learning to sing. You will need to work hard to train your voice through practice and you will need to learn to identify and correct your mistakes.
Everyone is born with the same instrument: the voice box. Although everyone has slightly different proportions, the structure is essentially the same. So unless you do not have a functioning voice box, you just need to learn how to use that instrument to its full potential.
Training your Voice
Training your voice involves practicing regularly and doing vocal exercises. Practice does make perfect, after all. Practicing your singing involves singing along to professional singers to get used to hitting the correct notes and keeping in time with the rhythm.
It also involves singing alone; experimenting with volume (singing louder and softer), tone (such as sounding sweet or bratty), agility (being able to move your voice through different notes), breath control (how long you can hold a note), etc.
One key element to practice is vocal exercises. Training your voice through vocal exercises can teach your muscles to work in a particular way to produce a better sound. They help to work on all the things I mentioned above, without you even realising it. They can also prevent a sore throat after singing.
All professional singers will use vocal exercises to warm up their voice before they perform. This is essentially waking up the muscles required to sing and stretching them in ways that they will need to stretch when singing. This is similar to a runner stretching their legs before a race.
Practice and vocal exercises can be done any time and anywhere. You can practice in the car on the way to work, in the shower, while you clean the house - the possibilities are endless!
Identifying and Correcting Your Mistakes
Another thing you will need to learn is to identify when you make a mistake and knowing how to correct it. You should listen carefully when you sing along to your favourite song. Try to hear if you are singing at the same time as the singer or if you are even singing the same note.
Most people are able to recognise when what they are singing does not sound the same as the singer. If you really struggle with this, a singing teacher can guide you through pitching a note by starting with one note at a time. It can be overwhelming, but your hard work will pay off.
In the case of someone who is tone deaf, known as Congenital Amusia, they are unable to identify changes in pitch (whether notes are higher or lower). Tone deaf individuals can still talk and sing, but cannot identify and copy pitch. This causes them to sing the wrong notes.
However, this only affects 4% of the population. If you suspect you may be tone deaf, you can take this Tone Deaf Test online and then talk to your doctor for confirmation. Otherwise, all you need is practice.
If you have been singing along to your favourite songs in the car, you're already doing this subconsciously. You can hear the sound that the singer is making as they sing higher and lower throughout the song, and you copy them.
Therefore, assuming you are not tone deaf and have a functioning voice box, you can start singing today! If this has encouraged you to pick up vocal lessons, below you will find a brief guide to start your singing journey.
How to Begin Your Singing Journey
Find the Right Singing Teacher
Finding a good singing teacher is the first step in learning to sing. A singing teacher, or vocal coach, will help you develop your voice so that it is stronger and produces the best possible sound.
Finding a singing teacher can be hard and there are certain qualities you should look for. For more information about finding the right teacher, click here.
Everyone has their own unique singing voice and you need to find a teacher who can work with that voice. A good singing teacher will be able to identify the styles of music that suit you, and these styles will showcase the greatest qualities in your voice.
Learn More About Your Voice
A singing teacher should guide you through all that is listed here, but in case you want to work independently first (or alongside your singing lessons), you should start to familiarise yourself with your own voice.
Everyone has their own natural vocal range. Your vocal range defines how high and low you can comfortably sing. In general, men can reach lower notes than women, and women can reach higher notes than men. Then you have people of each gender with higher voices and some with lower voices.
To determine you range, you will need to determine on a piano which are the highest and lowest notes you can comfortably ing. You will then need to compare this range to the six main vocal ranges (click here for an in-depth look into finding your vocal range). In general, most women fall within the Alto range, and most men fall within the Tenor range.
You should also sing along to a variety of different genres of music to find which styles are comfortable for you to sing. It's also important to consider those that bring you joy. Music is supposed to be fun, after all!
Finally, take note of your strengths and weaknesses when you sing. This can be anything related to your voice, but some common challenges people have are:
- Voice cracking
- Struggling to reach high notes
- Getting a sore throat after singing
- Running out of breath
Learn Basic Musical Principles
Music has its own unique language that can take years to learn. As a singer, it's important to understand at least the basics in music theory so that you can understand what musicians are talking about. Some common principles include the following:
- Pitch: The note being sung. In particular, the highness or lowness of the tone)
- Rhythm: The flow of words and phrases. In particular, the stress and length of the syllables in the song.
- Tempo: The pace of the song (how fast it is).
- Melody: The main tune of the song (usually what the lead singer is singing).
- Harmony: Singing simultaneously with the melody, but with different notes of the chord to create a pleasing sound.
Learn to Copy
Learning to copy other singers is a great way to get started. Don't be afraid to try different sounds with your voice. If a singer has a lot of twang in their voice (sounds like they have a cold), try making your own voice sound like that. If another singer has a very low booming voice, give that a go too.
Try keeping the same pitch, rhythm and tempo as other singers to get used to professional singing. Learning to copy is a key component to improving your singing voice.
As with any other skill, practice makes perfect. If you exercise your voice every day and practice singing a variety of different songs, you will continue to improve as time goes by. Sometimes it's hard to notice, but you may realise one day that you can hit a high note that you couldn't before. Or perhaps you are able to finish a particularly fast song without losing your breath.