“Can I sing and can I improve my singing?” are questions that cross the mind of every single person who contemplates improving his or her singing skills. And it is only natural to wonder if the time and effort will pay off.
Singing is a skill that is perceived as something that you either have or not.
A majority of people would say that “he can sing because he has a talent” or “she sings well because she was born with a good voice”.
I am sure you have heard similar statements many times.
And maybe you experienced the opposite – you have been labeled as a “bad singer” or someone “who cannot carry a tune”.
As a result, you may not have been eager to participate in singing or music activities or you may be still wondering if there is a hope for you to acquire a better singing voice.
You ask yourself “Can I sing?”
In recent years, there have been numerous studies done to find the truth about singing.
I have put together an infographic to summarize these research findings.
The verdict is out: singing is a learned skill.
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Let me walk you through the information presented above.
The Myth about Tone Deafness
Tone deafness is the inability to tell music notes apart.
For example, when a “tone-deaf” person is presented with two pitches played one after another, he may not know if the tones are the same or different. He may not be able to tell if the second tone is higher or lower than the first one.
Being “tone-deaf” is a common attribute given to “bad” singers.
The research shows that “bad” singers can hear the notes quite well.
The truth is that only 5% of people are truly tone deaf.
The rest of the population have the skills to tell the notes apart and are able to perceive pitches quite accurately.
That means that most people can enjoy music and recognize melodies they hear.
These people also have the potential to become better musicians and singers!
Why Can I Not Sing?
Research studies focus on four major areas to determine their influence on singing skills.
It may be quite obvious that “bad” singers lack musical training.
Vocal training improves the ability to control vocal muscles.
Untrained singers tend to use “incorrect” muscles to produce sound and therefore may not sound pleasing.
The research also shows that many new singers have difficulties making their voice match a given pitch.
However, this is not because they cannot hear the pitch correctly. It is because they lack the ability to produce sound of the given frequency.
These people are very much able to match the pitch if asked to do so on a piano or other instrument.
Another study confirmed that vocal lessons improved the ability to match own voice to a given pitch.
This shows that the ability to produce sounds of given frequencies is a skill that can be learned.
What role then does genetics play?
Research confirms that there may be some biological differences that give some people certain advantages in singing.
The size and shape of the larynx, pharynx and skull determine how a person sounds.
However, favourable genes do not translate into an instant ability to sing well.
Studies in this area show that early exposure to music and singing helps a person to become better at singing well.
Singing can “run in families” for a simple reason. Children of singing parents are exposed to singing from early age and they may participate in singing activities with their parents.
Both the exposure and active participation will positively influence these children in terms of their confidence and skill level.
But that does not mean that if your parents did not sing that you are doomed to a life without singing.
I believe that exposure to any type of good music throughout your life is a positive influence.
A shy person, a person labeled as “tone-deaf” or a person without confidence will naturally not seek out singing activities.
These people are less likely to be eager to sing or take on singing lessons, which results in a vicious circle.
If you don’t sing, you cannot get better.
If you are not actively involved in producing sound, you cannot discover ways to sound better.
Therefore, mental boundaries are more limiting to one’s progress in singing than genetics and environment combined.
Can Anyone Learn to Sing?
Most importantly, can you learn how to sing?
The only way to find out is to try it.
The research says that your chances are very good!
Here are some suggestions where to start.
All of the suggestions are based on results of many research studies.
My first advice is: get out there and sing!
Research suggests that singing is a learned skill and that through vocal practice people can sing better.
However, not everyone will top the charts.
(You can read this article – Probing Questions: Can Anyone Learn to Sing? by Joanne Rutkowski, Ph.D., professor of music education.)
That does not prevent you from enjoying music and singing.
Some studies suggest that people who are fearful and have little confidence in their singing, should seek opportunities where they are not judged.
Don’t go and sing on the Idol.
Look for community singing activities, learn to sing with a private teacher or online.
Guidance from an experienced teacher can change your attitude towards singing in a positive way (again confirmed by research).
Singing is like a muscle building: use it or loose it.
So use those “singing” muscles.
Learn to engage the correct muscles to sound better.
One research study found that a majority of people can carry a tune with remarkable proficiency.
Non-singers are less accurate in pitch as compared to professional singers but when they were asked to slow down, their singing improved greatly and they made fewer pitch errors.
So take one step at a time and be patient with your singing development.
But before you read another article and start singing, make sure to share this infographic with your friends:
Click like, tweet about it, pin it to your board or share it in other ways.
Thank you. Now – go and sing!