How often have you heard someone say: “I can’t sing.” or “I’m tone deaf.” or “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”
Like you, I have heard it often. Indeed, I have even witnessed some of these non-singers demonstrating that what they assert is true.
But let me assure you that there is no need for anyone to make these statements, let alone believe them. There is no doubt that, barring some physical vocal disability, everyone can learn to sing. Not everyone will make it to “X Factor”, but it is a fact that everyone can learn to sing well enough to at least join in at birthday parties, at worship services or at the annual singing of “Jingle Bells”. Many will become very productive members of community choirs or maybe even respected soloists.
So, what is the genesis of these misplaced beliefs? More than likely, it all began in primary school.
Most young children tend to “sing” with gusto in their “talking voices”. The result is little different from reciting a poem in something of a monotone ,,, no sweet tone and little variation in pitch.
Those of us who have taught young children to sing spend time making siren sounds and imitating crowing roosters, to demonstrate the difference between the “talking voice” and the “singing voice”.
We also teach them good breathing technique because true singing requires more energy than speaking. But for children who do not have these experiences, the “talking voice” persists into teenage years and even adulthood. The problem is exacerbated during teenage years, when voices “change” (particularly so with boys).
After this, learning to sing in a “singing voice” becomes increasingly difficult. This is when that other scourge of aspiring singers … tone deafness … comes into play. Males in particular come to believe
that they will never be able to sing “in tune”.
In truth, there is probably no such condition. Some researchers claim to have some evidence that a very small percentage of the population cannot recognize or vocally match different pitches. Even if this is true, there is no doubt that by far the majority of us ARE NOT tone deaf. So where does this leave the person who cannot sing in tune but wishes he/she could?
It is certainly easier to teach a child a new skill, but it is not impossible to teach adults. How many friends do you know who took up a musical instrument in adulthood, or learned to swim or play tennis? Singing is no different. For adults who are prepared to put in the time, take risks, make odd noises before they make beautiful ones, then the sky is the limit.
To those who aspire to sing, despite their inner insecurities:
- Consider joining a non-auditioned community or church choir, where you will be surrounded by people who already have good vocal skills and will share the elements of their expertise;
- Explore the idea of taking lessons from an experienced teacher who understands your issues and is happy to work with you in developing your hidden talent.
I believe that everybody can sing and if they want to, they should sing. It is an activity that is good for you and it is an enjoyable activity. And there is a great sense of achievement in learning to achieve something you have always wanted to achieve.