Updated: 2 days ago
"I would love to be able to sing, unfortunately, I am completely untalented!" These or similar things are often heard from people when they are asked about their own singing abilities. Time to get to the bottom of this myth and ask our professional singing teacher Andrea from Zurich a few questions.
"Anyone can sing" - is that really true?
Basically, everyone can sing and many people wish they did. But often people simply don't dare to do it, are too shy or have other reasons why they don't try it. "I can't sing" is more an excuse than a fact. It's not like you pick up a guitar and just play. It takes a concept and it takes practice and repetition. It's exactly the same with singing, only here the instrument is your own body. Usually, the only thing standing in the way is one's own self-doubt.
So there is no need for talent or physical prerequisites?
Of course, certain physical prerequisites are helpful. But the focus is on other factors. The right technique is crucial: The flow of breath, the flexible diaphragm, and its suspension knowing which abdominal and rib muscles are used when. How jaw loosening frees the tone and mouth position contributes to a brilliant pitch. Then, of course, comes the personal ambition, do I want to become a professional, or do I want to sing as a hobby? How much time can or do I want to invest? What is my motivation? It is comparable to sports!
Where is the limit of my voice?
You don't know until you've tried it. The limit of your voice is exactly there, where you stopped developing it, technically and in terms of music know-how. Physical limits are for example when you notice that you are getting a sore throat, are tired, or are short of breath. You see, this has little to do with talent but with knowledge. Music theory, technique, and knowledge about your own voice, all of that can be learned.
How do I find out what kind of voice I have?
For example, by determining the voice pitch. A trained singing teacher can figure it out in a few minutes. The tonal spectrum of speech is based on the voice pitch. Speaking in this position is the most gentle for the person. In the first moment, it is not so important, it is much more important to sing in your "range" and to expand your vocal range with technique and practice. All the rest follows very naturally with practice and time.
How long does it take before I can sing? How quickly do I progress?
With clear instructions and focused practice, you will notice significant improvement very quickly. Within just a few lessons you will make a big difference. Within 1 to 1.5 years you can reach a decent level. But it’s like with everything else, you have to practice and need some self-discipline to excel. However, it is definitely not unreachable. Many people simply don’t know it, see the first question.
Can adults still learn to sing or is it easier with children?
It's like everything, the earlier you start, the easier it is. However, singing is for all age groups. Adults are often even more disciplined and structured in their approach. On the other hand, children are more outgoing and sing without reservations. Adults can learn a thing or two from kids!
What do you learn from a singing teacher that you don't learn on YouTube?
I strongly recommend to beginners to book a professional teacher. YouTube and online lessons are less suitable for entry-level singers. A lot happens through imitation and listening. Here, the interaction between students and their teachers is crucial. The vocal cords are a delicate matter, you have to take care of them! You can't sing louder or fuller just by putting more pressure on your voice. That does more harm than good. With advanced voice students, virtual lessons work quite well, and this has become more established during Corona.
What could go wrong when you learn to sing "the wrong way"?
There are extremes on both sides. If you don't have your voice under control, for example, if you don't learn the vocal cord, your voice will become airy (breathy) or too tight (hard). This often happens with beginners and causes the muscles and the voice to slacken. The other extreme is an overload of the voice (glottal slap). If too much force is used, pressure is applied to the larynx, which can have a long-term negative effect on the voice and is dangerous. Long-term this can cause quite a lot of damage to the vocal cords, singing outside the own vocal range. By the way, this is also seen with amateur musicians and bands who haven’t had formal vocal training.
Where else is it worthwhile to train the own voice?
In all walks of life, of course. But especially in the business world and specifically with executives. Voice training for executives is highly recommended. How do I sound? Do people like to listen to me? Does my voice get tired after long speeches or presentations? These are questions that people who speak and present in front of an audience should ask themselves. As we all know, it's how you say it that matters, not just what you say!
What do people typically learn in a trial lesson with you?
In the beginning, I always recommend private lessons, because that's the only way to meet individual needs. Then there's a check-up. Existing skills, experience, preexisting conditions, illnesses (e.g. asthma). But also personal goals and expectations. Not everyone learns the same way. Then there are a few exercises to determine speaking voice and neutral pitch. And of course, in the first lesson, you will already sing, e.g. your own favorite piece. After all, it should be fun!