CAN ANYONE LEARN TO SING?
I get asked frequently if singing can be learned. People say things like “I can’t sing; I can’t carry a tune; I’m tone deaf”. This brings up the question if anyone can learn to sing?!
The instrument Voice
I like to think of the voice as an instrument. As with every other instrument we need to learn new muscle coordinations, rhythm, musicianship etc. In order to be able to play that instrument. Students of any instrument (apart from the voice) allow themselves to make mistakes and sound far from perfect in the beginning. And of course, how else would you learn how to play an instrument. You first go through the phase of exploring. Making sounds, making mistakes, practicing slowly, diligently and you improve step by step. You start with the basics, and build it from there. This concept applies to singing as well as to any other skill!
In over 12 years of teaching singing and working with hundreds of voice, I’ve witnessed these phenomenal light bulb moments and seen incredible transformations. I can definitely tell you that everyone can learn how to sing. Singing is a learned skill!
Amusia is the technical term for tone deafness, and only appears in about 4 % of the population. Unless you suffer from this rare condition, you will be able to improve your voice and learn how to coordinate the tiny muscles in your larynx, pharynx and your articulators, in order to sing. In most cases when people say they can’t sing, it’s more likely they don’t know how to use their voice.
You don’t have to be born with natural ability to sing. There are many articles which talk about how singing is a skill. For example Stephen Demorest from the Northwestern University published a study which shows that you don’t have to be born with an incredible natural ability, most singers are made through practice. “People tend to think of singing as a characteristic, either you have it or you don’t. We think it has a lot more to do with how much you sing”.
Another article by New York Vocal Coaches Founder Justin Stoney agrees on this topic “The voice can be trained in just about everyone. If you really apply good technique, just about anyone can sing well”. Then Stoney draws an interesting parallel, how learning to sing is like learning to play a sport. e.g soccer. Some people might be born with more natural ‘soccer ability’ but if you want to learn how to play soccer, practice will get you there. It might be difficult in the beginning and you might not ultimately become a professional athlete but you could still learn it and become pretty good at it. The same applies to your voice, Stoney says “not everyone might be a top athlete but with the right coach and lots of practice, you can get results”.
Not every singer will become a Pavarotti, Whitney Houston or Ella Fitzgerald, but everyone can learn to sing and become the best singer they can possibly be with the given anatomical structures.
Perfect Practice makes a great singer, the question is just – how badly do you want to be a great singer?
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