Can anyone learn how to sing?  Or is the ability to sing well just something you’re either born with or not?

As a professional singer and vocal educator for over fifteen years and counting, this has got to be the question I hear more often than any other. Especially when I meet brand new people at parties and social events; the moment they find out I’m a voice teacher, dollars to donuts, the above question is inevitably the first to pop out of their mouths.

And they’re not the only ones. Over the years, I’ve had countless students ask me the same question, or some variation of it. I think in doing so, they are examining the validity of voice training in the first place. They are questioning the common belief, the contention made by many, that you either “can sing” or you “can’t”; you’re either “born with the talent”, or you “aren’t”. And I think they are also questioning what seems like an unlikely assertion made by many supposed experts that, somehow, what seems like natural, God-given talent can actually be taught and learned.

I believe the asking of these questions is a very positive thing. Throughout history, we as a race have had to contend with all varieties of charlatans and pseudo-scientists; men and women claiming to be “experts” in some esoteric remedy or little-known methodology, offering what seem like too-good-to-be-true shortcuts to take off the weight, grow back the hair, heal the disease, get rich quick…or magically grant us the ability or the skill we covet in mere days or weeks that some are blessed with a natural proficiency for, and others spend years developing.

These gurus often speak up a storm, while providing little or no concrete scientific evidence to support their claims. So, I think it’s a good thing to question these allegations when they are made to us. Healthy skepticism gives us the tools of perspective, which allows us to discern the differences between fact, opinions, and flat-out falsehoods. It forces the claimant to back up their pronouncements with more than just confidently delivered, convincing-sounding factoids.

All of that being said: I feel that “Can anyone learn how to sing?” is too narrow a question to ask. The concept of “being a good singer” is far too open to opinion and personal bias, and there are way too many factors involved in either being a good singer, or becoming one, to answer what seems like a simple question with an equally simple answer.

A much better question to ask is:

“Can anyone learn to become a better singer?”

My answer: ABSOLUTELY.

As a general rule, all singers, be they total beginners or seasoned professionals, have both negative habits and gaps in their knowledge that hinder them from being the very best they can be. For the trained and untrained alike, whether we’re talking about poor breath support and emotional tension-triggers choking away their range and stamina, or a lack of access to certain kinds of resonance limiting their power and projection; whether a lack of ear training limits their ability to match pitch or improvise/adlib to their fullest potential, or an ignorance of how to care for their instrument prevents it from performing to its optimal capacity, proper guidance and education combined with dedication and diligence can help most any singer, no matter what their level, minimize their boundaries and embrace their strengths to ascend to the next level on their journey to become the singer they strive to be.

This principle can be applied to all facets of life and self-improvement, not just to singing. I can cite my baseball story from my first article, An Introduction to Voice Technique as an excellent example. In a later article, I’ll also illustrate how this principle of voice training (and even overall self-improvement) is evident in the realm of self-defense training. That article will also delve into a very important aspect of singing and emotional work: a physiological mechanism called Fight or Flight. Understanding Fight or Flight is pivotal to reaching your vocal potential, no matter what your level of experience or training, so keep your eyes out for that article when it’s posted.

In the meantime, I return to our original query: can any singer improve? With the right education, effort, and diligence, can you learn to become a better singer and performer than you are currently? I absolutely believe you can. Seeking out the right information, like you are by reading this blog, is a huge part of the battle. And putting it into practice on a consistent basis over time is the rest of it. Make no mistake: if you are reading this article, and others like it, you’ve already taken the first essential step towards becoming the singer you hope to be. Keep seeking out the best information you can find on the subject of voice training and performance, and be consistent in your efforts to apply it to your own singing, and you’ll have nowhere to go but forward.

Have a question about singing technique, voice training, or performance, or an article you’d like to see written? ASK DAN.

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