How do I know if I can sing?
Singing is a deeply personal and highly subjective instrument. You will hear opinions coming from all sides, but how do you know if you can sing objectively?
„Everyone has a beautiful voice, you just have to learn how to use it“ – Jo Estill
This pretty much sums up the ethos of my whole studio. Everyone has a beautiful voice. But of course, the question that you want to have answered is how do I know if I can sing? Personally, I believe that everybody can sing, but I know that you are probably wondering is there is any point in pursuing singing. So let’s break it down for you into simple ways you can judge for yourselves.
Singing in tune is fundamental to singing.
By using an app like nail the pitch, or Sing and See you can see is you are singing in tune or not. If you have trouble singing in tune at the beginning, you can improve. I promise you!
Pitch is a learned skill, we are not born with good or bad pitch. You just need to start classes with a trainer to help you in the beginning.
If you want to learn how to sing, starting with lessons is a good way to go.
I am a little biased here, as a singing teacher I would always recommend a beginner start with lessons so that they can get on the right track with their singing. I do however on the flip side tell students sometimes that they no longer need lessons, and they need to discover their own voices as artists.
Singing lessons provide the feedback needed in order to improve. There is no way you would expect to learn the piano without help from a teacher, so singing is no different. You will make leaps and bounds with your vocal technique within weeks of starting.
This is a really hard one. I have a number of singers at the moment who just don’t like the sound of their own voices. The problem is, that if you don’t like the sound of your own voice, then you are 100% going to communicate your distaste in your performances. Even if you don’t want to perform in front of people and sing for yourself, there is going to be a level of unhappiness with your voice.
Part of the journey is learning to accept what your limitations are as a singer. This does not mean that you are unable to improve, but it is all about singing to your strengths whilst working on your weaknesses. I hope this is all making sense……
Let me give you an example.
You want to sing „All I Want For Christmas Is You“, and you are unable to (yet) hit the high notes in the song. So I would suggest we change the key, take those high notes out or sing them lower so that you can still enjoy the song, but at the same time making it achievable for your level of ability at this point in time.
I can not pretend that I am immune to the feeling that come with negative feedback. Or even some ridiculous comments that are purely meant to hurt and not even be helpful. Someone called me a purple minion the other day in my YouTube comments and I had to take a beat.
The thing is, there are always going to be people out there who try to bring you down. There are going to be people who really dislike the sound of your voice. Those are not your people though. They are also not your audience. So forget about them.
If they happen to be your siblings, then tell them to F off and get it over and done with. I certainly know my stepbrothers told me that I sounded horrific when I was younger, did I care? Nope. What do they know?
Talent is so often given far too much importance. We have developed as a society to say „they are so talented“ rather than „wow, what a wonderful …. (insert thing that person does well). We make out that singing is something that is „gifted“ to an individual rather than a natural aptitude that is often due to physiological advantages.
Talent is a natural aptitude or skill according to the Oxford Language Dictionary. A singer may have a natural ability for singing, which usually comes from a symmetrical instrument but without putting in the hard work and the practice that talent will be go nowhere.
Singing is a journey, not a sprint. I would never, ever tell something that they should stop singing EVER!
However, I have to be honest with you, if after 3 years someone is still finding tuning difficult, and it is just a struggle with their singing, then I would ask them if they really want to continue with lessons. If the answer is, „well, I am not enjoying it as much“ then we would discuss maybe starting a different instrument. However, if that person says „no I love singing, I get excited about my practice“ then we would keep on keeping on slowly but surely improving.
More often than not, stagnation with singing comes from lack of motivation and grit to get better through those beginner stages. I have many students who struggle with pitching in lesson 1 and after 3 – 4 months they are hearing the incorrect pitches, then after 6 – 8 months they are singing more in tune than out of it, and after 1 year the tuning becomes even more secure.
The larynx is just a muscle, and therefore it is trainable. It just takes time. Try not to get disheartened at your progress but enjoy the process of learning something new. Sing songs that you find easy, sing songs that you find challenging. Go and re-visit old songs and sing them all over again. Mark your progress because chances are you are not going to see it as well as the others around you.
That is why in my studio we regularly record tracks and have at least two performances on stage a year. We need milestones to measure progress.
You are wonderful, and don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. There is so much music out there, there is an audience for everything. You just have to go find your audience.