Can anyone learn to sing? That's the question we'll be trying to answer in this article.
Singing has been a part of human life for millenia. It’s how we used to entertain one another and tell stories, and, in a way, people still use singing to do just that. It’s a talent and skill that can skyrocket people into stardom.
There are countless television shows that surround singing: American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, America’s Got Talent. People get joy and entertainment out of how well another person can sing. We also get a sense of schadenfreude when someone sings poorly.
What does it really take to sing well?
When videos of children age three or four singing phenomenally surface on the internet, it’s easy to assume that singing is a talent that people are born with. We’re left to wonder: can anyone learn to sing? The answer is, yes, of course! Singing, in and of itself, is a skill.
Some people are born with a natural aptitude towards it, but, for the most part, anyone can be taught how to sing. Depending on the length and size of one’s vocal track, different people are more naturally inclined towards different types of singing. For the most part, though, if you can speak, you can learn how to use a singing voice.
What is singing?
When children are still young, their musical aptitude depends heavily on whether or not they have people around them who are interacting with them in a musical fashion. Children who grow up around singing and music are much more likely to learn how to use their singing voices at an earlier age. This gives them a headstart on learning how to control their voices, and it gives them a better chance at being a decent singer as they grow up.
One of the major misconceptions about singing is that you sing with the same voice that you use to speak. Our natural speaking voices are often lower than the voices that we use to sing with. People who are “bad” at singing may be trying to use their speaking voice to sing. When a person sings, they need to relax their vocal chords and learn how to use breathing to produce sound. It’s far different than regular talking. Learning how to produce that particular sound is the first step in learning how to sing.
However, knowing how to make the vocal cords and the voice work right isn’t the be-all-end-all. In fact, people who figure out how to produce a singing voice might not have had a particularly good one to start out with. For anyone to have a good singing voice, they need to learn how to sing with a fair understanding of intonation. That, unfortunately, is far more based on someone’s aptitude for music, as well as how hard they’re willing to work for it.
Singing is more akin to a sport than it is to an art. While singing can be beautiful and artistic, it is also a deeply physical action. To learn to sing, one must be willing to dedicate the time and energy into practicing and training their vocal cords.
How Do People Learn How to Sing?
Most people learn how to sing by using resources, like range or intense vocal training lessons, but there are things that you can do to start yourself down the right path in learning how to sing right in your own home. Here are some steps to take when you’re ready to take that plunge and learn how to sing.
Check Your Ability to Hear Tone
Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, she’s a bad singer, she’s completely tone deaf!” Most people assume that someone being “tone deaf” is just a mean way of saying that they can’t hear how bad they’re actually singing. On the contrary, being tone deaf is a real condition that many people face. People who are tone deaf have an inability to hear the difference in pitch, which makes it almost impossible for them to be able to differentiate between high and low pitches.
Fortunately, a very small number of the population is tone deaf. If you were to play four notes on a piano: two of the same note, and two of two different notes, and you’re capable of telling which are the same and which are different, then you’re most likely not tone deaf. If you still have trouble singing on key, don’t worry. That will come with time, practice, and patience.
Learn How to Match Pitch
Perhaps you’ve surmised that you’re not tone deaf, but you’re still having trouble matching pitches. This is a skill that most people who are learning how to sing have to learn. What exactly does “matching pitch” mean? When someone is capable of matching pitch, it means that they’re capable of hearing a note and being able to sing that exact note back.
Sound difficult? Don’t worry, it just takes a lot of practice. Thankfully, there are singing exercises that are designed to make it easier for you to learn how to match pitch. You can learn how to match pitch with either a digital tuner or a tuner app on your phone. There are pros and cons to both.
A digital tuner might have a more professional quality to it, while a tuner app on your phone is definitely cheaper and more portable. While the digital tuner might have a more true tone, the digital app may help you know whether or not you’ve hit the pitch or not.
Whatever you choose, these two exercises will definitely help you learn how to match pitch.
What is Your Range?
Alright, now you have your tuning app or tuning device, and you’re learning how to match pitch. The next step is to figure out what your range is. Some singers have famously high ranges, with beautiful, heart-hitting, high notes. Others have those low, smokey, dulcet tones. Do you know what your range is? You might have an idea based on when your voice starts to strain while you’re singing certain songs.
In order to be completely certain, take some time to find your range. With your tuning device, tuning app, or even just a regular piano or keyboard, start by playing the middle C note. You should be able to hit that note pretty easily without any strain in either direction.
Now, let’s find your lowest note. Keep playing one note lower, matching it with your voice as you go along. The last note that you can hit comfortably is the lowest your range can go.
Now, do the same thing, but go in the opposite direction. Starting with your middle C again, play one note higher, and match it with your voice. When you’ve reached the highest note you can, that is both comfortable and clear, with no strain in your voice, that is the highest note you can hit. There you have it. You now have your range, and you’re able to move on with learning how to sing.
Learn How to Control Your Vocals
After you’ve got your pitch down, it’s time to learn how to control your vocals. Vocal control is one of the most important parts of learning how to sing, and it can take a lot of time and practice.
Think about it - are you ever aware of your vocal cords when you’re talking? Probably not, right? If you’ve never given half a thought to your vocal control before, you may be in for a rigorous process. Never fear, though, because, with time and patience, you’ll be more than capable of controlling your vocals for singing.
There are a few ways that people learn how to control their vocals. First, there are scales. Practicing scales is a great way to train your vocal control. You want to make sure that you’re not choosing scales that are way out of your range.
Don’t choose scales that are too high, as that can strain your voice, and, if you choose scales that are too low, you’re not learning the proper control. Mess around a bit with your vocal range and see what fits comfortably for you.
When people think of scales, they think of “do re me fa, so la ti do”. This is called “solfa”, and it helps you know what pitch you’re going for when you practice by giving a name to each sound. Try it out and see how much better your vocal control is after just a week or so of practicing.
Take Care of Your Instrument
As much as a guitarist needs to keep their guitar in tune and stored in a case, singers also need to take care of their instrument. In this case, you want to make sure that you’re practicing good vocal health.
If you don’t understand the basics of taking care of your voice, you’re bound to set yourself up for failure. You could accidentally strain your voice or develop bad singing habits that will come back to haunt you when you’re trying to sing properly.
It’s important to stay hydrated. Your voice can get dry and scratchy if you’re not giving it enough water. Hydration is the key to keeping your voice healthy and ready to sing. You also want to avoid shouting or screaming - that’s right, even if you’re at the front of the stage at your favorite concert, try not to strain your voice. Screaming or shouting too much can damage the vocal cords and make it harder for you to recover from singing in the future.
Avoid things like smoking, and not getting enough sleep, as well. Smoking is dangerous for your throat, mouth, and lungs - all the things you need to sing well! As important as it is to practice enough, you also need to know when to rest.
Make sure that you’re not overworking your voice while practicing on how to hit the right pitch. It’s okay to take a couple of days off to rest your voice and give it time to recover. Getting enough sleep will help your body recover from any damage that might have been done to your voice.
We also recommend that you do vocal exercises.
Learn How to Sing In Tune
Alright, now that you have all the basics down, it’s time to start singing actual songs. Of course, I’m sure you’ve been singing along to songs throughout the entire process, but now is the time to take all of your training and practice on how to match pitch and vocal control and put it to the test.
When we sing, we may not be hearing what everyone else hears. After all, our voices are often deeper to our own ears than they are for the people around us. The only way to really know if you’re singing in tune is to do the thing that people dread most: record yourself singing and listen to it.
It’s important to record yourself singing songs that you know and are comfortable with. Don’t try to sing wildly out of your range, either. Just take some time to record yourself singing and getting used to the sound of your own voice. Once you do that, you can really assess whether or not you’re singing off-key.
Whether you’ve opted to use an online resource like the Singorama website, met up with a vocal coach, or taught yourself at home, hopefully, you have more information on how to learn how to sing.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been singing since you were a child or have only ever done it casually in the car or shower, there is no prerequisite to singing, perhaps other than being able to tell the difference between pitch!
You may have thought you were too “bad” to learn how to sing, but now we know that that isn’t true. Learning to sing is a skill as much as it is a talent. As long as you’re dedicated and don’t mind putting in the time and effort it takes to learn; anyone can learn how to sing.