“Only the talented can sing”. Comments like this can be all it takes to discourage a budding vocalist. But the truth is, as with any artistic pursuit – from painting and writing to dance or acting – it takes more than talent to achieve success. It takes the right singing training and commitment to practising what you learn.
The benefits of singing go beyond simply belting out your favourite songs. Singing helps you build communication skills and improve your spoken voice. It boosts your mental health, and brings communities together, from singers and musicians to the wider community. Telling stories through song helps us understand our shared humanity and desire for beauty, peace and togetherness.
As with any new skill, learning to sing takes time and patience to develop and train your voice, and to establish your practice routine.
Whether or not singing in tune comes naturally to you, all singing begins with the thought of producing sound followed by the physical act of making sound. Your body responds by creating a space for your voice to resonate, coupled with efficient breathing, to create and sustain a pleasing tone.
When you first learn to sing, you need to work on the foundations of healthy singing: breathing, posture and tone.
Work with an experienced singing teacher
A professional singing coach can help you start with the right foundations and iron out any vocal challenges.
If you struggle with pitching (finding the right note), it may be more about how your mouth shapes and positions vowels and consonants than a having a ‘bad ear’.
Another challenge for new singers is learning to sing against an accompaniment that doesn’t have a song’s melody line. In my studio, I use audio tracks that help singers keep the beat, learn rhythm patterns and sing to accompaniments.
Listening to other singers is essential to your singing training, and you may be keen to launch into learning your favourite songs. But when you’re a beginner singer, this can discourage you if you don’t get it right at first. An expert singing teacher will steer you to songs you can master, to improve your singing and musicianship skills, while challenging your learning. As you progress, your favourite songs can be goal posts to work towards.
Exercises and singing practice build and strengthen your skills
When you’re starting, you need singing exercises that work your voice over easy scales and small intervals. As you advance, harder exercises help you learn to locate your vocal registers (head and chest voice), how to blend these together and especially how to use these in songs.
Regular practice of your singing exercises is key to improving skills and reaching your goals. It builds your awareness of how your body works when your voice produces sounds and increases your understanding of tonal qualities.
As you develop your voice, you can take a more specific approach to practice and work on specific skills you want to improve.
It can be daunting when you first learn to sing, especially if you’re self-conscious about your sound. An open attitude and being prepared to experiment will help free up any reservations.
You may be a singer who learns by understanding how your anatomy and physiology work. Or maybe visualisation and imagery help you feel new actions and hear new sounds as you learn. The right singing teacher will work with whatever helps you learn – while distracting you from over-thinking and fearing failure, with gentle encouragement and just enough challenge.
Singing is a wonderful way to be in the ‘flow state’ – a concept developed by psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Put simply, it’s the experience of losing awareness of time when you’re engrossed in a task you enjoy. Some call it being ‘in the zone’. While you may be working, your focus is so heightened your progress feels effortless.
So, start singing lessons, ignore any imposter syndrome and embrace the weird, vulnerable and doubtful moments as you improve. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, take a creative risk, and strengthen your singing.
If you want to sing but think you can’t, let Kathleen Connell prove that you can. Try an in-person or online singing lesson package and discover the beauty of your voice!
Get in touch to find out more.