Can Anyone Learn to Sing in Tune?
You may have heard it said that anyone can learn to sing, but feel like it doesn’t apply to you, or that you’re unlikely to improve from where you are now. Perhaps you long to learn to sound like your favourite artists.
Can anyone learn to sing well and in tune? Can the voice be trained and improved? Or is it only for those blessed with natural musical talent and ability? Learn the facts and myths around learning to sing and how singing lessons can really help your vocals.
So, can anyone learn how to sing? Let’s find out…
Yes! Anyone can learn to sing
It’s good news, because yes, on a basic level, anyone can learn to sing. Provided you are able to speak and have working vocal cords, you can learn the techniques that enable you to sing. This applies to your tone, pitch, tuning and of course the confidence required to start singing in the first place.
For many, it’s not the technique of singing that’s the issue, but fear of feeling exposed, silly, or somehow not good enough, that stops them having a go. Which is a pity, as we are often much better than we give ourselves credit.
Turn off your critical voice until you’re at a point when you’re wanting to sing professional, or enter contests and need it to improve (and then it needs to be a subjective voice, not an overly critical harsh one – as that’s of no use in moving forward).
Even if you’re not fussed about becoming a big star, it’s well worth taking up singing on some level. It’s proven to be good for your physical and mental health. So your mind and body will be benefiting along the way as you learn to sing – and it makes for a super fun past time, with lots of social opportunities along the way.
Can anyone learn to sing well?
The caveat is that how good you will become, will vary from one person to another. And this depends on a number of factors.
The effort you put in
No pain, no gain. Do you want to sound fantastic? Be prepared to put in time, money and effort and perhaps make some sacrifices. The journey will be one of excitement, satisfaction and achievement though. It might not always be easy, but it will be worth it.
Your musical ear
Your ability to sing well in tune will be affected by your ear for music. Some people are predisposed to tunefulness, others not so much. This isn’t everything, but it may give you a head start and a slight advantage. We’ll talk about how to work around this later.
The physiological makeup you were born with will have an impact on how good you’ll be, but again it certainly isn’t everything. Which bring us onto…
Can anyone sing, or is a good singing voice genetic?
The makeup of your vocal cords is genetic, as is the shape of your nose, mouth and throat. These all affect the way in which sound resonates, as does your overall body shape. Lung capacity will affect your power. So there are elements which are genetic, but it’s not the be all and end all.
How your natural, untrained voice sounds are all down to the “chamber,” which carries the vibrations. In other words, the spaces inside your throat, mouth and nose. This is why some singers who have had cosmetic surgery on the nose, in particular, experience a change in timbre.
Your physical makeup determines the timbre of your voice, and its uniqueness is something to celebrate. A voice that sounds different to others will stand out and offers your own unique selling point. So rather than adjusting it to sound like other artists, develop it to the best of your ability. Harness your own sound and style and make the very most of it, for it is nature’s gift.
Can anyone learn to sing with a big vocal range?
Your vocal range is determined by the size of your vocal folds. If you don’t spend time working to improve your vocal range via exercises and practice, it will not change (other than by the odd note if you happen to eat the wrong foods or get sick).
While we often applaud the vocal ranges of famous singers, your range is not necessarily an indication of talent or skill. Neither is vocal range the most important factor in whether audiences enjoy listening to you. Performance is about so much more than just impressive vocal acrobatics.
But one thing every singer does need to be able to do is to sing in tune. If you’re off-key, flat, or sharp, then you won’t sound good, no matter how high – or how low – you can go.
Can anyone learn to sing in tune?
Yes! Anyone can learn to sing in much the same way as anyone can learn an instrument. Some may have more of an inbuilt aptitude for it and find it effortless and natural. It also depends on what kind of singer you want to be. Perhaps you’ll struggle to ever sing an operatic Aria well, but your husky voice lends itself perfectly to a rock sound.
With practice, you can absolutely train your voice and your musical ear.
While there are some things, namely your physiological makeup, which you cannot change about your voice, singing is a skill and a skill you can learn.
So why do some people appear to learn to sing and sing in tune more easily?
Often our ability to sing is linked to the confidence we have when we try. Growing up in a musical family is one factor that is heavily linked to “good singers” — just being in an environment where people are unafraid to sing helps. Confidence goes a long way and having the guts to open your mouth and go for it in the first place, sets you on your journey to good singing.
If your family members don’t consider themselves to be singers, have no interest in music and have even told you that you can’t sing, don’t be downhearted. It may be easier for those from musical backgrounds to ease into life as a singer, but it’s absolutely possible for you too. First, you must build your confidence by telling yourself a different story. Know that you can and you will sing.
Whether those around you like singing does not need to be relevant. Use positive thinking to believe in what you can achieve with some hard work – and you might just surprise everyone you know.
How to learn to sing on your own
Maybe you don’t just want to learn to be able to sing, but you want to do it by yourself. Out front. Centre stage. Not as part of a group.
Solo singing makes many people nervous, so for this, it’s worth spending time on calming those nerves and working through any performance anxiety you might have. Once you’ve had enough practice and your act is polished, the best way to get used to singing on your own is to get out there and do it. Start with low-level gigs and build up to higher profile ones – it’s best not to invite everyone you know straight away either, looking out to a sea of familiar faces can be quite off putting.
Having a vocal coach to guide you and build your confidence is always beneficial. However, if you’d rather learn to sing by yourself – or if hiring a coach isn’t an option – there are plenty of online resources with voice exercises available. Downloadable software and apps that help you learn to sing are super useful and YouTube is an especially good source of instructional videos. But more on those options later…
Learn how to sing in tune (for beginners and improvers)
But, what if you’re so bad at singing (or more likely feel you’re so bad at singing) that you are too nervous to even sing something like ‘happy birthday’ in front of people?
Don’t worry, all is not lost. Happy birthday is incidentally, far from the easiest song to sing, due to its awkward interval jump on ‘birth’ before ‘day to [insert name]’. Usually, everyone, in the room is singing a different key too, making it hard for you to pitch.
Your voice is an instrument; you just have to learn how to use it. Let’s look at the top ways to get that instrument tuned up and ready to go:
#1 Relax your vocal cords
Most of us try to sing using our speaking voice. Our singing voice is usually higher. Learning to relax your vocal cords and make sounds rather than trying to make your voice ‘do something’ is the key.
#2 Identify your singing range
Identifying your range is the first step; most of us don’t use anywhere near our full vocal range in everyday life. The traditional names for the different types of voices are:
#3 Practice singing
Practicing using your full range will train and stretch your vocal folds, making the higher and lower notes in your range easier to reach. Make sure it’s about quality, not just quantity though. It’s not good hitting a high note if it sounds screechy. Work on the tone as well as the range. Recording yourself can also help as it allows you to be [constructively] critical and set targets for continuous improvement.
#4 Take voice lessons to improve your voice
Hiring a voice coach can help too, as they should be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses in order to create a plan to maximise your potential. If you’re new to singing, there’s every chance you won’t know when your tuning is off, or if your technique isn’t ideal. Even famous artists still need regular help from a coach to help with this.
#5 Join a choir or singing group
Most recreational choirs will have a range of abilities and directors should be set up to support anyone who is new to singing. This is the perfect option if you’d like to combine learning to sing, with socialising and meeting new people. Choirs are usually very welcoming and you can have a great laugh at practices, as well as achieving a lot.
This is an ideal first step for those who are super nervous about singing out loud. Doing it as part of a group is less intimidating, lots of fun and there’s a sense of camaraderie. You’ll grow in confidence as you develop. And as time goes on, you might find you want to progress to a semi-professional or professional group, to ensure you’re still being stretched and challenged.
If you want to learn to sing in harmony, singing in a group or choir is a fantastic way to do it. No amount of practising harmonies on your own will match up to the experience of doing so with others. It’s more of a challenge but is one of the top ways to develop your musical ear and learn about correct tuning.
Many singers started out in choirs, like Whitney Houston who was brought up around gospel music and attributed much of her growth as a singer, to being in these choirs as a teenager and young person. And just because you’re part of a larger group, doesn’t mean you won’t get the chance to sing by yourself. Many choirs use featured soloists for certain numbers.
#6 Channel your passion
Singing is about feeling. Sing songs you like and channel your passion into your voice; emoting as you sing will give your performance more depth and make you sound more believable. Play around with this when you are practicing. While it’s good to work on your technique, you can cover many a mistake by giving an engaging, confident performance.
#7 Work with what you’ve got
Don’t compare yourself to famous singers, don’t try to change the sound of your natural voice’s tone. Work with what you have and be realistic; while everyone can learn to sing, this doesn’t mean that everyone can sing to the same standard. Sing songs that suit your sound too. Your favourite genre may not be the one at which you excel. Identify your area of expertise and work it.
#8 Have fun learning to sing!
While it’s great to take the time to practice, don’t forget to sing for pleasure too. Audiences can sense when a performer is enjoying singing and that feeling is infectious – meaning the more you enjoy it and share that joy, the more the audience will enjoy it too.
Learn to sing software: sing in tune apps and sing in tune tests
There’s an app for pretty much everything and music is no exception. You may have spotted instrumentalists tuning up using appropriate software. Do the same with your voice. It’s technology’s version of a live singing teacher telling you when you’re off key or cupping your own ear to repeat the sound back.
Some of these sing in tune apps are great, some not so. And there are new ones constantly coming to the market, so check reviews before downloading one – especially if there’s a cost involved. Google Play and iTunes both have their own review systems for their app stores, making it quick and easy to check out the validity of the software before deciding.
There are some people who are tone deaf. This means that they’re unable to hear differences in musical pitch. Often people believe they’re tone deaf, when in fact they just haven’t had enough musical training yet. If you think this might be you though, you can do a simple tone deaf test, to identify if this is the case or not.
If you are completely unable to hear a pitch, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to sing. Just that you’ll need to work a lot harder on your musicality. And if singing a melody is just too much to manage, but you want to get into music, you can always learn to rap!
Anyone can sing: Tristan on YouTube and Skype
Another firm believer that anyone can sing, is Tristan Parades, online vocal coach and singer.
If you can’t afford vocal coaching near you, then getting some coaching over Skype video calls will help you instead. Or follow a YouTuber like Tristan who specialises in the topic and has experienced teaching those who are new to it, to sing.
So it’s true that anyone can learn to sing. Perhaps now is the time for you to brush away your previously held beliefs about being unable to sing. One of the fantastic things about singing is that it’s so accessible for everyone. You don’t have to have any special equipment, a special room, lots of money or even much time.
Try out some exercises and simple songs today, in the shower, in the car or around the house. You never know, with some practise and self-belief, you might even be the next person to be crowned Best on the Mic UK!
- Can I learn to sing at 50… Or 60?
Absolutely! Singing isn’t just for people of a certain age. You can start at any time. Obviously, things improve with time, but you may also have a hidden talent. If so, now’s the time to let it shine! Older voices are usually slightly lower, so make the most of that and choose your songs accordingly.
- How can I develop my singing voice?
The most beneficial action you can take is to get a vocal coach to help you. Having an expert guide your practice is more effective than developing your voice alone. But if the cost is prohibitive for you, there are plenty of great exercises you can do at home to develop your singing voice.
- Is singing natural or learned?
Some singing talent is natural. But there can be much learned unconsciously at a young age, from exposure to musical family members, communities and by listening to artists. The resulting effect this has may be assumed to be ‘natural’, but is in fact early learned technique. It’s arguably both natural and a learned skill.
What do you think? Can anyone learn to sing? Have you learned to sing from scratch? Please let us know if this article has helped you in the comments below and share it with your friends.