Perhaps you’ve heard the following- or maybe even said them yourself:
- “I am tone deaf.”
- “I can’t sing.”
- “I just can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”
So, the question that comes next is this: can anyone learn how to sing? To be completely honest, the answer to that question is yes.
Of course, you may not necessarily become the next Pavarotti- but absolutely anyone can learn to sing better than they can now. Here’s the logical questions behind the big one.
- Do you have vocal cords?
- Can you make sounds with them?
If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you can most likely sing- right?
Well, perhaps. There are some people who are truly tone deaf- and the truth is, they can’t sing. Tone deafness, or “amusia” is actually what is known as a perceptual problem.
If someone is tone deaf, they are not able to detect the differences in pitch or carry a simple tune. However, just because you are not able to detect or match slight pitch variations does not mean that you are tone deaf.
Experts are unable to agree where the dividing line between lack of training/exposure to music and “Amusia”. So, if you can detect high pitches from low pitches, you are most likely not tone deaf.
The same thing goes for people who are born deaf. If you’re not able to hear at all, chances are you won’t be able to sing either. However, some newer research seems to show that this is changing.
So, for the purposes of this article, let’s just assume that you:
- Have vocal cords that work
- Do not have Amusia
- Were not born deaf
Learn How to Sing : Can Everyone Sing?
Most of the time, when people think they can’t sing, it’s usually because they don’t really know how to use their voice. Imagine you are taking a music lesson for the very first time, with your favorite instrument, the one you’ve always wanted to play.
The first time you play it, the sound that comes out is awful! The more you try to play, the worse it gets. This doesn’t mean you are necessarily bad at playing, you just have not acquired the skills to play yet.
If you are willing to continue your lessons and you don’t give up after that first lesson, you will see yourself improve. You will learn to play basic scales and even some beginner songs.
You will be learning and building on the skills and coordination you need to be able to play an instrument. The same thing goes for developing your voice. You need to be dedicated to it and put in the necessary effort.
So, instead of assuming that you don’t have the talent or that you’re tone deaf, you must realize that you may simply need a voice coach that can recognize your voice challenges and get you past your potential limitations. Your voice truly can change and get better over time.
What Are the Next Steps?
The first thing you must do is find a voice coach that will help you with pitch problems by teaching you how to use your voice properly. The exercises that your coach gives you will help you achieve proper pitch. Once you have been given voice exercises, you need to get plenty of practice.
The second thing you need to do is train your “musical ear” along with your “musicianship.” Once you have learned to hear and achieve a better pitch, you will be able to detect when you are sharp or flat.
In addition, it will allow you to hear when you are in time/on beat with the music, which is critical when you’re working on songs. Even if you are able to achieve perfect pitch, but you can’t tell when you’re on beat, off beat, under beat or over beat- then there’s no point.
There is so much more to musicianship than simply training your ear. According the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, “musicianship” is defined as the following:
“Broad concept covering a variety of musical abilities, loosely defined as being able to ‘think in sound.’ This happens when a musician can produce music that they perceive in the imagination, whether through improvisation, playing by ear, reading from notation, or singing.” As a singer, musicianship is your experience and artistry.
Everything you learn and do as a singer is building your musicianship. Do you think the professionals just woke up one day and knew how to sing? No, they had to work on it.
They had to build up their knowledge of which notes work with which cords, and how to use different techniques in songs.
Musicianship is not something that can or can’t be taught. It’s something that comes with practice and experience. It is the key to becoming an amazing singer.
How Can You Build Your Musicianship?
Following are a few ways that you can build up your musicianship:
- Listen to different singers/styles/genres
- Learn music theory
- Learn an instrument to train your musical ear
- Experiment with voice/songs in various genres
- Get plenty of practice
Of course, it’s critical that you don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. Never try to rush it and understand that building your musicianship will take lots of time and energy.
However, it’s worth the effort because it will take you from being an okay singer to being a really great one.
So, there you have it- a pretty long answer to a pretty simple question. Yes, most people can learn how to sing. However, the severity of your problem will determine the time and effort you will need to spend on it.