“Songs are the heartbeat of man.” – Anonymous
So many people dream of being a singer as famous as the stars. There are also plenty of aspiring singers who want to be the champion of the X Factor or The Voice. Unfortunately, not everyone has what it takes to be a singing sensation, though a vocal coach could help.
If this is the case, their goals might be a little less ambitious: try to sing like their downstairs neighbour who, while really loud and annoying, can sing and hit every note. There are plenty of different reasons why people are learning how to sing.
In the past, classical music (though it wasn’t classical at the time!) was an integral part of everyday rural life: the father would sing operettas while shaving, the mother would sing a lullaby to their child, Gregorian chants were being sung in churches and cathedrals, and labourers would sing various work anthems as they toiled away in the fields.
Things have changed since then. These musical masterpieces are rarely performed by the families themselves and the lullabies that would be performed at the time of Mozart have been replaced with tablets and YouTube.
However, without practising regularly, most of us are far from being anywhere near as good as Pavarotti. Even less so when we have to sing in public.
Did you know that singing in the shower is so common that a number of famous artists have even recorded music in tiled rooms to emulate it?
It’s never too late to start, though! Even if you start learning to sing later on in life, you can achieve some impressive results if you put in the hard work and find someone to help you, whether you want to sing for fun or go pro!
This expression has made its way into common parlance so much so that almost everyone knows what it means. However, is “singing out of tune” just when somebody sings the notes so badly that the song is no longer enjoyable?
This will depend on who you’re asking. In some cases, the singer mightn’t be very familiar with the melody and make a few mistakes while still technically singing acceptable notes.
In other cases, the singer lacks the musical education and ear to tell whether or not their hitting the notes or whether they’re just hitting the wrong ones.
Whether you’re a bass, baritone, or countertenor, you can still dream of playing the world’s best opera houses. (Source: Flash Bros)
The latter is just a case of being a “bad singer”. We’re more interested in those with a voice capable of hitting notes.
Most of the time, this boils down to proprioception and one’s ability to use the parts of the body involved in singing. It’s important to remember that singing a wrong note, while horrible at the time, is not the end of the world.
You’ll see: you’ll soon be able to sign up to a singing competition and make it to the semifinals. It’s your time to shine! Even in the event that you lack the ability, there are singing teachers who are more than capable of helping people learn to sing better than they’d ever expect.
Of course, this does mean that it’ll be harder for you than someone who’s just naturally musically gifted. In this case, you should take joy in every single singing challenge you overcome.
If you stop singing out of tune, you’ll obviously start singing in tune. After all, your vocal cords are muscles designed to make any given note within your vocal range. If you’re a bass, for example, it’s going to be difficult to hit the high notes.
Singing in key is knowing how to make any given note with your vocal cords and vocal exercises and vocal training can help you to do this. Put simply, you have to imagine that your vocal cords can make notes in the same way that each key on a piano can make a different note.
After all, when you hit a piano key, a hammer hits a wire (which is much like a cord). The size and tension of each wire makes it produce a specific note. When this tension isn’t right, a piano will require tuning. Fortunately for you, the internet is full of videos and tutorials that will help you learn how to make your voice do exactly the same as a fine-tuned piano.
There are plenty of tips, too, which are really effective for helping you find the resting position for your larynx, for example. While we don’t often think about it, one of the biggest causes of hitting false notes is stress! In the same way that the pressure can get to top athletes, a singer’s performance can be negatively effected by anxiety and stress.
You need to relax and be fully aware of just how important breathing is when you sing. When you sing a song, your voice teacher will be there to help you learn how to correctly use your diaphragm as well as providing you with warm up exercises and vocal coaching. Being aware of how your body works and having an understanding of music theory can also help!
A beautiful singing voice, while often an innate gift, can also be encouraged in some cases if the child is taught from a very young age. We’d recommend that new parents to try to raise a musical prodigy as early as they can as it could result in giving their child a huge advantage later in life.
Learning to sing in key later in life can be more difficult (though far from impossible). Of course, as you age, your muscles, including your vocal cords, tighten and become less effective.
While it’s better to learn to sing from a young age, you’re never too old to improve. (Source: Thibault Trillet)
People in the UK are quite famous for being terrible at foreign languages. Sadly, the same is generally true when it comes to singing. Some languages, like Chinese with its various tones, can help people become better at singing and understanding pitch. Unfortunately, English is not a tonal language.
We don’t tend to sing very often in school, either. While we may learn a few nursery rhymes, it’s very rare that we’re being taught by an actual music teacher in primary school.
Keep in mind, there’s no age limit when it comes to singing success. Remember that when Susan Boyle had her audition on Britain’s Got Talent, she was 47 years old!
It’s very common that those who can’t sing in tune tend to have not learnt much about music or music theory. There are a lot of people who’ve just learnt to sing in order to sing along to their favourite songs. Without discussing amusia (the case in which someone is unable to process pitch), there are those who are unable to distinguish between three different notes being played on the piano due to a lack of practice.
In this kind of situation, a bit of music theory and singing tips will go a long way towards helping them better understand music and being able to recognise different notes. They should also:
listen to good music with plenty of melodies and harmonies (for tips on getting started, check out our blog on the world’s most beautiful songs)
listen to music being sung while following the sheet music for said piece
To become a better musician, why not consider learning to play piano or guitar? (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
They should also keep in mind that it’s very rare for anyone to be born with perfect pitch and this is something that will take them absolute years to fully understand. Beginners are probably going to need voice lessons in order to improve their technique and their understanding of music theory.
Similarly, don’t be jealous of those that do have perfect pitch. Instead, you should ask them to help you so that you can copy their techniques and steadily get closer to their level.
Until now, we’ve been looking at the fundamental steps to avoid singing out of key:
learn more about the physical properties of singing
learn how to sing in tune
work on your musical ear
listen to yourself singing
If you start with these steps, you won’t need a magic solution. There are plenty of great tips and tricks that can help you sing in tune without wishing. There are also plenty of online platforms that can help you manage this (since there’s no way you’re going to become a famous singer overnight).
The most traditional method, while hardly the most interesting, is the most effective: sing diatonic scales, chromatic scales, and other arpeggios. Obviously, the best way to do this is with the assistance of a singing teacher. There are plenty of singing exercises, vocal techniques, and ways to warm up for all voices that your tutor will teach you. They’ll also help you to breathe correctly, sing with confidence, and get over stage fright.
If you’re an absolute beginner, you should start by studying an instrument that won’t require you to have a perfect musical ear (so not the violin) alongside your vocal lessons. Take the piano, for example. Not only is this good ear training, it will also help you start singing with the right notes. It’s the easiest way to start. Just like having a tuning fork for every note.
Learning to sing requires a lot of mimicry: you’ll need to which note you have to sing and you’ll also have to correctly replicate it when you sing it. Once you’ve decided to learn how to sing in key, you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. Singing lessons with a teacher or private tutor are useful as the tutor can adapt their lessons to your strengths and weaknesses and dedicate extra time to the things you’re struggling with.
In short, you could say that the more you sing, the better you sing, and the more you listen, the better you sing! Don’t forget that when looking for a voice coach, there are also online singing lessons over Skype.