Can Anyone Learn to Sing? - Careers in Music
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songwriter playing a songmusic producer at work stationrock star performing on stagetour manager making phone callmusic teacher with studentmusic therapy session

Can anyone learn to sing?

It’s a good question. And someone who hasn’t ever taken singing lessons doesn’t know.

Doesn’t know what? Well, there are things you could be doing wrong when you sing, things that could lead to a vocal injury. Plus, singing lessons may really help you. Think about it: you may not even realize your full potential as a singer.

But hold on. When it comes to discovering if anyone can learn to sing, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.

Can anyone learn to sing? Here’s what we’ll talk about:

  • Do I need singing lessons?
  • Lies about singing lessons
  • How singing is exercise
  • The pros and cons of taking singing lessons
  • Singing Teacher Vs. Voice Coach
  • How to find singing lessons
  • Singing lessons are not for everyone

Do I Need Singing Lessons?

People throw around the word “need” a lot when they don’t actually mean that. Sometimes people say they need something when they actually mean “this thing would really benefit me.”

So let me just say it upfront: you don’t need singing lessons.

Will singing lessons make you a better singer? Most likely, assuming you hire a good Teacher. Can you become a better singer without taking singing lessons? Probably, it just may take longer to realize what you’re doing wrong. Aren’t you already a good singer?

There’s a musical artist called Avalanche City; he says he was at one point tone deaf. He says he taught himself to sing by playing scales on the piano. Now he’s a Recording and Touring Artist.

He didn’t “need” lessons. He did fine on his own.

But to be fair, lessons make a huge difference for a lot of students (more on that below).

Lies About Singing Lessons

People who don’t take singing lessons often tell themselves lies. These are some of them.

Lie #1: “Singing comes naturally to me and I sound just fine.”

Sadly, many beginner singers say this and believe it. Yes, natural ability is a real thing. But that may not be enough.

To become a really good singer, it’s crucial to know what’s happening when you sing. What’s going on in your body, your lungs, your throat, your mouth — it’s important to know what’s behind the curtain. For example, if you don’t understand what happens when you try to hit high notes, you could damage your voice.

Even if you’re happy with how your voice sounds now, there may be things you’re doing that are either harming you or holding you back. Just imagine how good you could be if you had a little help from a professional who knows these things.

Lie #2: “Singing lessons wouldn’t actually do anything for me.”

People who don’t believe in singing lessons may think they don’t produce results, that they won’t actually do anything for their voice.

“The people who take lessons and sound amazing already sounded good,” they say. “They already knew what they were doing.”

While it is true that very good singers may know more about what their body is doing to produce beautiful vocal sounds, that’s not an excuse for you to not take lessons. Lessons work. If you have the right attitude, they can do great things for your voice.

Lie #3: “I’m good at singing, but I’ll never be able to do the types of things I want to. So why waste my money on lessons?”

If you don’t want to improve at singing, you won’t. So first, you need to have the mentality that you can get better with practice. A Teacher can help you discover your full potential.

You can do things you never thought possible with practice, knowledge, and intentionality — three things you can get from a Teacher. You may not ever sound like Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder (none of us will), but you can get better than you are now.

They say confidence is 90% of the battle.

Slide Do You *Really Have What it Takes? Do You *Really
Have What it Takes?
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Singing Is Exercise

Singing is a physical activity. It involves deep breathing correctly, controlling your diaphragm, and pushing air out of your lungs. There’s no doubt your body is working when you sing.

That’s why people say things like, “Singing is a muscle — if you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy.”

If you don’t spend time “working out,” this muscle will get weaker instead of stronger. There’s not really an in-between.

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Record yourself singing a song to the best of your ability. Then go a while without singing at all (if you dare). When you’re ready to sing again, record yourself singing the same song as before and compare the two recordings.

This singer did that — she didn’t do any vocal exercises for about two months — and she noticed a big difference.

“It really hit home for me when I went back and listened to recordings I’d made last summer,” she writes. “And wow! I think I sang a lot better last summer than I have in my last few recordings.”

You’re either getting better at singing or your “singing muscle” is atrophying.

Okay, let me try to look at this objectively. Let’s go over the potential pros and cons of taking singing lessons or not.

The Pros of Taking Singing Lessons

Forming good habits from the beginning: practice is good, but only if you’re doing it right. Taking singing lessons (taught by a good Teacher) will help you learn how to form good habits that will produce results and keep you from harming your voice.

Learning proper warm-ups: related to that idea of practicing correctly is learning how to do warm-ups correctly. Singing well is only possible with well-done warm-ups. This is something you’ll learn during lessons.

Training your ear: with lessons, you’ll learn how to develop a good ear for the correct notes in a scale. You’ll have a Teacher there to let you know when you’re sharp or flat. That way, you’ll slowly learn what sounds on and what sounds off.

Exposure to more music: different styles of music require different technical skills, and you’ll probably learn those different techniques throughout your lessons. If you want to become a really good singer, you should learn multiple styles of music.

Learning how to read music: technically, you don’t need to learn how to read music to become a better singer. But it sure can help. Choirs and choral groups go off of sheet music, so your Teacher may want you to learn music notation and reading.

Avoiding a vocal injury: you can injure yourself singing if you don’t follow certain measures. If you’re not hydrated enough, if you sing in a way that strains your voice, and if you don’t do proper warm-ups, you could hurt yourself. Singing Teachers can guide you through voice care.

The Cons of Taking Singing Lessons

Cost: let’s be honest, singing lessons cost money. For one half-hour lesson, you might pay up to $35. If you go with a professional-level Teacher, you could end up paying $100 or more for an hour lesson. Plus, you’ll need to budget for music books and sheet music, which can cost around $150-200 per year.

Getting a bad Teacher: sadly, not every Teacher is actually good. And you won’t know until you start lessons. If you’re totally new to singing, you may never know until it’s too late. Many Singing Teachers use old-fashioned methods that aren’t very effective. This could lead to a much slower progression.

Being discouraged from singing: it takes bravery to sing in front of another person, especially if you don’t know them. And if a Teacher does not make a point of being encouraging, it can come across as judgmental. You’re already in a vulnerable state, so a response that lacks excitement and encouragement could hurt.

Singing Teacher Vs. Voice Coach

Before you start looking for singing lessons, it’s important to know the difference between a Singing Teacher and a Voice Coach. The terms may seem interchangeable, but there’s actually a subtle difference.

A Singing Teacher is someone who helps you improve the technical skills of singing — the mechanics of how to sing and what’s happening when you sing. They often specialize in a specific type of singing or genre.

You don’t have to be licensed to be a Singing Teacher, but many of them do attend some sort of educational and musical training.

A Voice Coach, on the other hand, is someone who helps you sing in a certain style and is more about “getting into the song” rather than the technical aspects of singing. They can help with pronunciation, phrasing, performance, breathing, ad-libbing, and just emotionally connecting with the song.

Many singers have both a Vocal Coach and a Singing Teacher. It just depends on what you’re looking to learn.

How to Find Singing Lessons

You’ve read this far, so I’m guessing you’re interested in finding a Singing Teacher or Voice Coach. Great.

Here are some tips to help you find the best person to give you singing lessons:

Be clear about what your goals are: sit down and write out a list of your goals, what you want to achieve as a singer. This is for yourself and for your future Teacher.

Find a Teacher who can help you reach your goals: be upfront with any Teacher you meet. Show them your goals as a singer and asked them, directly, if they can help you achieve them.

Know how much time you can commit: taking lessons is not just the 30- or 60-minute lesson once a week. It takes lots of practice on your own. Know this before you start.

It’s okay to try different Teachers: if you don’t like a Teacher, tell them you’re going to keep looking. Maybe they’re not as encouraging as you need them to be. Maybe your personalities don’t vibe. Heck, maybe they just smell weird. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to move on.

Re-evaluate after a few months: if you find a Teacher who seems to be working for you, do your own evaluation of them. Think about how you’ve improved, if you can see this partnership working long-term, and honestly ask yourself if you should keep going or find a new Teacher.

Singing Lessons Are Not for Everyone

Confession: I’ve never taken singing lessons. However, I still think they’re integral to answering that age-old question “can anyone learn to sing?”

After doing the research for this guide, I might just go ahead and sign up. It seems like a great investment, especially if you’re serious about making it as a musician — standing out among the crowd.

If you’re compelled to take lessons, hopefully, this post has helped you weigh the potential benefits with the possible downsides.

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