Can Anyone Learn To Sing?
Can anyone learn to sing or do you have to have oodles of talent to book a lesson with your local vocal coach?
“Can anyone learn to sing?”
This question comes up so many times in conversations I have with people who are curious about working with me. "What if I have no natural talent? - My voice is terrible - there’s no way I would be able to sing that", etc…..
During the 25 years that I've been teaching people to sing, unless there is a physical problem affecting the vocal cords, there are solutions and techniques that will enable anyone to sing in tune, with more range and power and more agility until they reach a point where they truly enjoy their own voice and feel confident to use it in anyway they wish.
But like all instruments, there is a process of learning to tune into your voice and body and develop the necessary blend of air flow and vocal cord resistance necessary for singing - and that takes some time to practice and master.
But don't I need to have some talent to begin with?
I approach singing holistically. Rather than focussing on talent for performance goals only, I support people to discover and reveal their true beautiful voice. This is the voice that is waiting to express itself without any emotional hindrance. For that kind of voice, no talent is needed, just presence and self-love because every voice is beautiful when it is expressing confidently and joyfully from a space of connection and truth.
Talent makes things easier but it is not necessary in order to learn how to sing!
So, if you ask me, ‘can anyone learn to sing?’ I would have no hesitation in saying YES - as long as you really want to discover your voice, the rest is commitment to a routine of practice that perhaps won’t always feel easy, but is never an effort either. Learning to sing is evolving in that it heightens your awareness of your body and enables you to reconnect more to yourself. You find yourself letting go of conditions on how much time it needs to take, what your voice should sound like or any attachment to a particular outcome, and makes for a joyful practice that is fun and freeing.
But if it feels like hard work and you feel that you're not getting anywhere - don't throw in the towel...
The initial stages can sometimes make you feel like you’re not going anywhere, which is when most people quit or think they have no hope of singing, but if you keep going, you will be amazed and overjoyed at what your voice is capable of. It will also help you to free your voice with more confidence when you express yourself in other areas of your life, such as improving your relationships with family and friends and at interviews or presentations for work.
In this blog I’m going to be talking about how anyone can learn to sing, especially when we approach singing holistically.
I’m particularly going to focus on:
Why you think you can’t sing and why this holds you back from expressing yourself freely and powerfully
The real reason that most people think they ‘can’t’ sing
How to start feeling confident about your voice
How to sing with absolute joy and freedom and love your voice!
Why You Think You Can’t Sing
And why this holds you back from expressing yourself freely and powerfully!
There was a time when I sang and a time I believed that I couldn't sing...
I loved to sing as a child. It was always with joy, freedom and volume ( no - I didn’t turn my dimmer switch down in any way!)
But as I grew older I received some subliminal messages that I chose to believe. Singing was for confident good looking people, not people like me with skinny legs, spots and a voice with a ‘brummie’ accent. No, singing was for cool people, popular people. I considered myself neither.
Ah belief! The thorn in the side of all of us humans.
As a vocal coach (and human haha), I meet people regularly who tell me that they don’t think that they will be ‘good’ singers and that their voices aren’t pretty or sound like they want their voices to sound. It’s rather like disliking your thighs, your nose or the size of your breasts or penis. We begin from a place of ‘lack’ and self loathing and think that we can better ourselves by taking classes. However, I always say to people who start singing that they have it the wrong way around. We need to approach singing, not from a ‘lack of anything’ but rather from a place of wholeness where we are absolutely able to express ourselves. We just have to observe what’s getting in the way of doing so, let go of it and continue with consistency.
So ask yourself this:
Is it that you think you can’t sing, or have you lost a sense of yourself and your own worth? Are you giving away your freedom to express yourself by holding back and buying into what is deemed a ‘good’ voice? Are you able to let go of the shoulds, the self-judgement, self critique and comparison and just explore your voice for the fun of it?
And if you’re not convinced, remember this. As a child I bet you didn’t worry about the sound of your voice at all (until the moment that someone gave you the message that it wasn’t ok to express yourself in a certain way, or made fun of you etc.)
What happened to natural spontaneous expression?
I encourage you to return to that freedom by letting go of the belief that you ‘can’t sing’ and just start to learn the techniques of singing and enjoy yourself.
The real reason most people ‘can’t’ sing
Most people who want to sing but think that they ‘can’t’ sing feel disempowered because they compare themselves with talented singers or those who have practiced for years and invested time and money into learning to sing. Comparison keeps the story of ‘I can’t sing’ alive and relevant for you - but have you ever asked yourself whether this story is still dictating how you express yourself?
Because you may just keep this story alive because you don’t feel confident to sing in front of others, you feel too old to start singing, or you feel embarrassed about your own voice. So, a better question to ask may be, Do you really want to sing?
I imagine that if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you do want to sing - and that perhaps you’ve wanted it for a long time and never really had the courage or enough ‘x y or z’ to make it happen.
Well, you certainly ‘can sing’.
I can’t promise that you’ll be a recording artist and resulting millionaire next year because of it, but what I can say is that you will discover your true voice, feel more confident and less anxious about using it, and even learn to love it. Loving your voice means loving yourself and this is truly joyful. You feel a natural vitality in your whole body instrument when you reignite and externalise this powerful and authentic expression from within you. There is really no limit to how far you can go when exploring the depths of your voice (there’s always more to learn), and you will realise the healing qualities of your voice and the self-realisation that singing can lead to (one of the best complimentary self-love and healing modalities that exists.)
How to start feeling confident about your voice
We started with a question, “Can anyone learn to sing?’ and it’s becoming apparent that the answer is yes, as long as you really want to sing. We uncovered some of the things that often stop us from taking that step or giving up too easily such as the comparison and self-judgement that distracts us from our true and free expression, but what comes next? How do we actually start? How can we start feeling confident about our voices and singing?
Confidence in anything usually results from a feeling that you have mastered something in life and it stops feeling so difficult. This is the ‘doing’ confidence that helps us to perform.
But how come some people don’t necessarily do something well and yet they seem to have oodles of confidence? In fact, they have so much confidence that you don’t even notice that they haven’t mastered what they purport to have mastered!
Not long ago I watched a film called “Phantom of the Open” a true comedic story about a crane driver from the North of England called Maurice Fitcroft who decided that he wanted to play golf in the British Open. Maurice lied on his application to the prestigious competition stating that he was a professional player. he cited his local golf club as his sponsor yet this club wouldn't even allow him to play there due to his inability to pay their fees!
Where did his confidence come from? He hadn’t truly mastered golf (he did practice on the beach and was pretty good at it, but not at the professional level of the other competitors). He was a sensation in the press and he never gave up, using different names to cheat the system and continue enjoying golf.
This story of Maurice Fitcroft is beautiful because it shows that confidence is innate and has nothing to do with talent, ability or on how much effort we put into learning or practicing something. This ‘being’ confident is not reliant on mastering any activity as such, but it is a self-mastery that is undaunted by failure, ridicule or rejection.
Are we able to somehow tap into inner confidence when we use our voices? Do we all have it? I think we all have it. In some of us it is buried deeper than others, but we can all reconnect to it - so yes we can!
The trick is to realise that it is there. How can it not be there?
Confidence exists within all of us (we are all confident about something in life) but if we feel we lack confidence we’re always moving against the natural confidence that we have. Reconnecting to your whole body instrument will reveal that inner confidence before you even use your voice. It’s not dependent on what other people think - it’s you being you - no apology, no desire to be ‘good’ or impactful - just the joy of being you and singing that out to the world!
Here are a some tips:
Be consistent in your vocal practice - this is a great way to build confidence as you begin to feel at one with your voice. If you would like some holistic vocal exercises to start you off, click on the link at the end of this blog and you will get free access to my video series “Holistic Vocal Warm Ups”.
Always keep one inner eye on your voice as you speak or sing - stay focused on your body and don’t get carried away by those inner critical and judgemental voices that stop you. Connect with the confident inner voice and keep breathing your own breath from a space of stillness within you. This breath is not led by external impositions, conditions and expectations, it is your presence - your authentic self. Breathe from this space and bring your voice from your whole body on that breath.
It's your inner lion(ess) - watch out world!
Observe! Be aware of when you feel confident and when you need courage - in what circumstances, when and with whom? What is this telling you?
Could it be that you hold onto judgements about certain people and project a reality that is not necessarily true? e.g. "I can’t sing in front of that person because they are better than I am, or I can’t possibly sing my own songs here because this audience want to hear covers of songs they already know." This is something that held me back for years and kept me pandering to the wishes of the ‘pub’ audience and avoiding venues where my own music would have been very much appreciated.
What stories are you creating about your voice and the way others receive it that may not be true?
APPRECIATE yourself - we don’t do this enough - we’re so quick to find fault with ourselves but we don’t make space for appreciation. Every time you are self-caring in any way, stop and appreciate it, build up an appreciation log of not just what you do but what you are by keeping a journal. This leads to self-love and once you are self-loving, that will be what you express - your voice will be at-one with that vibration in all you do and who you are in relationship with.
How to sing with absolute joy and freedom and love your voice unconditionally!
Singing is joyful, healing, and evolving - it naturally frees you from tensions, stress and anxiety. So why don’t we do it more?
Could it be a combination of not finding the time, feeling embarrassed about practicing (especially if you share living space with others), doubting your own ability or associating singing with all that is not joyful i.e. competition, a way to earn a living, or constant tension in trying or pushing the voice to fit the mold of what is considered a ‘good’ or 'modern' voice?
Whatever the reason, we would do well to get curious about what it is that holds us back so we can re-lay the foundations of the ‘why’ of singing.
I suggest reconnecting to your inner voice first before the physical vocal exercises.
OK but which inner voice are we talking about here?
It’s not the voice that tells you that you can’t sing, that judges, compares, criticises and controls. It’s never the voice that wants to gain something just for your own recognition and validation, so it is never telling you that you aren’t good enough nor is it embarrassed by mistakes or self-consciousness.
No, the inner voice I’m talking about, is the wise and intuitive voice within you that presents you with ideas that are always loving and caring for you and others. It’s the voice that intuitively knows and doesn’t pay attention to self-doubt. It is a voice that cannot be ignored, When was the last time you paid attention to this voice? We all have that voice - it is the voice of our soul and it is continuously there - without judgement, guiding us towards love every step of the way.
Start listening to that voice more and more and your outer voice will feel clearer, more powerful and confident. When you develop that inner connection, you will start to love your voice unconditionally - yes without conditions of any kind.
It works both ways!
To develop that connection, you can also use your physical voice to help you reconnect so that you develop both inner and outer. When you do the exercises (see below) keep very focused on your body. Move gently when you sing (like sheets hanging to dry in a gentle breeze). Your gentle movements keep you connected with your body.
If you would like to know more, sign up below and choose from three Holistic Vocal Coaching video courses that will help you to practice, discover your authentic voice and manage anxiety. Click below for free access!