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View Full Version : Can a person be taught to sing or are vocal lessons worth it?


BMF Effects
11-22-2010, 09:26 PM
I used to sing in bands when I was in high school and had a pretty passable voice but that changed when I quit smoking but I'm wondering if singing lessons would help get that back? Has anyone taken them and if so what were the results? Thanks.

voodoosound
11-22-2010, 09:54 PM
A person can be taught anything. Some pick things up quicker than others. But EVERYONE has the same chances to become what they want to be. Its all about self programming and commitment and dedication to your goal.

BMF Effects
11-22-2010, 10:03 PM
A person can be taught anything. Some pick things up quicker than others. But EVERYONE has the same chances to become what they want to be. Its all about self programming and commitment and dedication to your goal.

Understand and agree but let's say I wanted to cop the Warren Haynes vocal sound, can that be learned?

scottlr
11-22-2010, 10:11 PM
I have, for 40 something years, tried to sing. I love to sing. I want to sing. I suck at singing. I can play a guitar passage with suer soul and vibrato in just the right place, and just make it sing. But I cannot find that control in my voice... easily.

I have to really concentrate on what I am doing when singing. On guitar, I have done that for 40+ years, so there, it's just a matter of getting my part down pat. With vocals, I STRUGGLE. On guitar, I can bend a note up and hit the target with nice vibrato. I can hit tones in between 1/2 steps when need be. Vocally, I struggle to do a simple scale. For years, in my car, I practice singing.

I love to sing! I want to sing! I feel the soul in my heart, and I am not at all satisfied if I do not sing with soul. I feel it! Why can't I just do it? I do not have a great voice, but neither did SRV. His voice took me 2 albums to get used to. Then I realized that although he didn't have a killer voice, he somehow made HIS voice match HIS playing. Since then, I have still been struggling with it, but I have narrowed it down a bit. It's still hard.

tonedaddy
11-22-2010, 11:52 PM
Understand and agree but let's say I wanted to cop the Warren Haynes vocal sound, can that be learned?

Yes.
You may want to try a book by Cathrine Sadolin:

"Complete Vocal Technique"
http://www.completevocalinstitute.com/?q=en/Shop

Cathrine runs the largest vocal school in Europe, Complete Vocal Institute (CVI).
You can get a taste of what's in the book here:
http://www.completevocalinstitute.com/?q=en/Vocal-Technique

and if you follow the links at the bottom of that page you'll eventually get here where she notes what effects one may add to their voice after learning these steps:

3 overall princples
Choosing a vocal mode
Choosing sound color
Choosing effect

http://www.completevocalinstitute.com/?q=en/Vocal-Technique/Effects


I found out about Cathrin and her technique book over on the TalkBass forum.

There's a thread about singing here:
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=173764

Look for all the posts by the member "Deacon Blues".
He's the one who recommended Cathrin and her book.

Specifically Deacon Blues posted about using Cathrin's technique to sing with a gravelly voice here:
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=380663

There are reviews of the book here:
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Complete+Vocal+Technique%22+book+%22Ca thrine+Sadolin%22
http://www.jaimevendera.com/bookreview14link.html


Spend some time reading all of Deacon Blues posts, and the CVI website (note that there are menu sections of the website at both the top and left hand side of the webpages).
Once you understand the complete approach Cathrin has to teaching vocal technique, I think you'll be able to decide if you want to buy the book

Also, the CVI website has links to videos here:
http://completevocaltechnique.com/web567.asp?toppkt=90&vismenu=567

CVI also has a video channel on Youtube that hosts some of that content:
http://www.youtube.com/user/videosfromCVI


I've never contacted Deacon Blues, but I'm sure he could tell you his experience the CVI approach, as his vocal teacher dropped all of her teaching methods and adopted Cathrin's methods completely.

Scott Miller
11-23-2010, 12:12 AM
Sure you can. Vocal lessons helped me a lot. The other thing that helped was not trying to sing like someone else, so, forget the Warren Haynes thing.

brikus
11-23-2010, 12:22 AM
The few lessons I took helped me understand a lot of things that helped me correct what was wrong with my singing. It's still a work in progress, but now I'm aware of these things, I can work out in the right direction to improve.

In my case, basically, I was kind of singing "with the handbrake pulled". I was not confident about my voice so I was kind of holding it back, like to avoid to expose it too much. That's where I was wrong.

bluesjunior
11-23-2010, 03:07 AM
Name an opera singer of note who never took a singing lesson?. I think someone with a pleasing voice singing pop music can be very successful without any vocal coaching take "Bono Vox" for example but I bet that all successful singers take voice lessons at some stage of their career if only to learn how to protect their vocal chords for the rigors of a long tour which can be hard on the shouter type of rock singer.

sundaypunch
11-23-2010, 05:18 AM
IMHO, you can improve with lessons. You can learn to better control your voice. Still, if you aren't naturally a good singer you are pretty much out of luck.

StompBoxBlues
11-23-2010, 05:34 AM
Yeah...I'd say (with no particular expertise, just my own experiences) a couple of things about it.

First, yeah...I'm very sure that lessons can help. If you want to just take a little self-check, go on to YouTube and search for singing lessons, there are a number of free ones there (or teasers, that invite you to pay for the real stuff..) and even some of those I have noticed help a lot.

It's also good for getting the general idea (that I never knew about until turned onto it from some great folks here) about head and chest singing..etc.

But yeah, IF you have a Warren Haynes "style" of voice, you might be able to get in the ballpark. IF you have a high, thin, reedy voice...forget it.

I think the best advice was the person above that said learning to use what you have is the key. I remember reading, when I was into martial arts, Bruce Lee mentioning all his shortcomings, his problem areas and how he learned to use what he had.

I think the biggest mistakes some bands make are trying to force the vocalist to sound like the record on many different covers, get your voice going doing whatever it is best at, and use that...rephrase, rewrite the melody line to be close but tailored to you.

That's in fact what Warren Haynes obviously does when he sings covers, he NEVER sounds like he's trying to cop the original singing style, he always sounds like Warren, and I hear a LOT of improvement in his singing from the first Govt Mule album to the later ones.

He's comfortable with his voice (have no idea if he took lessons though)...

Blue Strat
11-23-2010, 05:42 AM
Understand and agree but let's say I wanted to cop the Warren Haynes vocal sound, can that be learned?

Not necessarily. There's physics involved related to your, and his, body and anatomical differences which make everyone's voice a little or a lot different.

Be more concerned about YOUR voice than someone else's. No one ever became famous for sounding like someone else.

This course has helped me a lot with pitch and range. http://www.singingsuccess.com/

scottl
11-23-2010, 06:22 AM
I have vocal chords that must have some sort of anatomical issue as I am a horrid singer. I can't control them and there is little pitch range. Yet, I can certainly play and my ears are decent.

No matter how much training or effort I put in, I just can't sing at any level needed to even do backups.

So, anyone who says that "anyone can do what they put their mind to" is way off base for many.

On the other hand, if you used to be able to sing I suppose training would really help.

mark norwine
11-23-2010, 06:47 AM
There are, indeed, people who can not hear pitch & can not sing.

For them, no. There's is no hope.

Telecaster62
11-23-2010, 06:57 AM
I am proof positive that you can be taught to sing. I do hear pitch very well and my mother was a choir soloist so there is some inborn ability in my case. However, when I first tried to sing many years ago I was dreadful but with lot's of practice and a college vocal class I drastically improved. I'll never be Steve Perry or Freddie Mercury but I can pass as a lead singer. The first thing to learn is what your usable range is. Never try to sing outside of your range and work on vocal control. For me, singing harmony lines helped with my pitch control.

hot lava mike
11-23-2010, 06:59 AM
Yes- lessons can help you with proper technique- which will help your sound and pitch. It's like anything else- you need to practice and do it a lot.

However, I wouldn't get your hopes up in sounding like someone else. You should really just strive to find your own voice and be comfortable with that.

theroan
11-23-2010, 07:21 AM
Definitely. I saw my range expand in one lesson.

greggorypeccary
11-23-2010, 07:32 AM
A person can be taught anything. Some pick things up quicker than others. But EVERYONE has the same chances to become what they want to be. Its all about self programming and commitment and dedication to your goal.

Everyone is born with certian talents, skills, etc. Lessons and hard work can build on that and improve what you've got but the old "you can be whatever you want" is a fantasy.

I do like that you added the part about commitment and dedication though, that (and hard work) is the part that too many people ignore while assuming they can do whatever they want.

StompBoxBlues
11-23-2010, 07:47 AM
One thing I notice too, singing is one thing, and there is also mic technique, and also "phrasing" which I think are all about equal in some respect...or at least all are necessary.

Phrasing, I think is a lot like learning to play slide guitar. You find very quickly that sliding too long up or down to a note is very unpleasant sounding unless done in a very specific way. That one needs to be able to hit the note with no slide up or down, but also learn the times when a slide IS a good thing or adds to it.

Keeping in whatever your range is also is smart, while you work on your own to widen it. Read in more than one "How to make you band sound great" type books, that they mention the biggest mistake many do is trying to force the singer to sing it in the original key regardless of his real range. Better to change the key (even if you have to arrange the "voicing" differently...some songs must be changed a good deal if it has some fantastic part that only works on guitar in E or G for instance) and rework it than try to force a round peg in a square hole.

mannish
11-23-2010, 07:52 AM
I considered lessons but the price was way too high - I got the book singing for dummies with CD. It helped a little bit. The best thing was practice BUT I am still not a good singer to say the least.

stratotastic
11-23-2010, 08:14 AM
A few comments based on what's been said so far:

1. You really have to do some actual lessons. You don't need many--even just one or two could possibly set you in the right direction, but books and youtube vids won't correct your bad habits that you're not even aware of, or tell you what you specifically need to work on.

2. Most of singing is effort. Someone mentioned their problem was holding back. Seems to be the case for a lot of non-trained singers. During my first vocal lesson, my instructor set up a scenario that would piss me off and got me to scream at her in a rage. It was to demonstrate the amount of emotion/energy you can call up when needed. You need to be able to call that up while you sing. Not all the time, mind you, but you need to be confident and self-assured.

3. Don't try to sound like someone else.

4. Ear and pitch can be taught.

5. Genetics and vocal cord design will put limitations on some people, but anyone can be taught to breathe properly, hit the correct notes, and expand their range somewhat. The actual sound of your voice is what it is, and you may not like it, but you can still work with what you have.

StompBoxBlues
11-23-2010, 08:35 AM
A few comments based on what's been said so far:

2. Most of singing is effort. Someone mentioned their problem was holding back. Seems to be the case for a lot of non-trained singers.


For me it is the opposite. I notice that I sound like I am putting every ounce of myself into each word...it's not a good thing when I do it...
it also sounds like a lot of effort, like I am really using my outside voice.

Strangely, when I started using earplugs, where many worry it will detract from their singing, I found it actually helped. I seem to be able to not "blast" my voice, and I can hear the notes I am singing better and this is not just my impression, I hear the recordings of practice, and it really sounds a bit better.

I sing okay, but decided in our band my vocals weren't good enough to be worth listening to all night long at a gig, so we got a real vocalist. It is totally uplifting to the band, and I can now maybe sing a couple of songs a night, but also concentrate way more on guitar (which was suffering a little from my work on singing) and harmonizing...

Derek Q
11-23-2010, 08:35 AM
Ray Charles didn't become Ray Charles until he stopped vocally emulating Charles Brown and Nat King Cole. There's a lesson in there somewhere...

A-Bone
11-23-2010, 08:48 AM
A proper voice coach can also improve the speaking voice, especially for public speaking. Don't limit the lessons and their positive impact to singing alone.

brikus
11-23-2010, 12:07 PM
I am proof positive that you can be taught to sing. I do hear pitch very well and my mother was a choir soloist so there is some inborn ability in my case. However, when I first tried to sing many years ago I was dreadful but with lot's of practice and a college vocal class I drastically improved. I'll never be Steve Perry or Freddie Mercury but I can pass as a lead singer. The first thing to learn is what your usable range is. Never try to sing outside of your range and work on vocal control. For me, singing harmony lines helped with my pitch control.

I partially disagree. If you don't try to push the boundaries of your range, you'll never expand it (just don't do it onstage, that's all ;)). It's just like athletes who improve on their own former performances just because they trained especially for that purpose.

damnuandurdog
11-23-2010, 12:15 PM
Not necessarily. There's physics involved related to your, and his, body and anatomical differences which make everyone's voice a little or a lot different.

Be more concerned about YOUR voice than someone else's. No one ever became famous for sounding like someone else.

This course has helped me a lot with pitch and range. http://www.singingsuccess.com/

This is good advice but please remember that Scott Stapp is/was famous.

Blue Strat
11-23-2010, 12:26 PM
This is good advice but please remember that Scott Stapp is/was famous.

Who's Scott Stapp? (seriously)

Regardless, trying to sound like someone else may not only be impossible but counterproductive.

JSMidd
11-23-2010, 12:31 PM
My degree was in Vocal Performance. I can say honestly that NO ONE can be taught to sing, but everyone can be taught to SING BETTER than they currently do.

There are some who can be taught to hear pitch, but will never be able to replicate it with their voice.

The first 60% of your voice is God-given. The rest is up to you.

loudboy
11-23-2010, 12:42 PM
My degree was in Vocal Performance. I can say honestly that NO ONE can be taught to sing, but everyone can be taught to SING BETTER than they currently do.

There are some who can be taught to hear pitch, but will never be able to replicate it with their voice.

The first 60% of your voice is God-given. The rest is up to you.

+1000

Control and technique can be learned and improved upon.

What Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Paul McCartney have is inborn, and they probably had most of it the first time they opened their mouths.

damnuandurdog
11-23-2010, 01:00 PM
Who's Scott Stapp? (seriously)



Like Eddie Vedder but Christian. Google.

hudpucker
11-23-2010, 01:03 PM
So, anyone who says that "anyone can do what they put their mind to" is way off base for many.




One of the great American myths is that you can do anything if you simply put your mind to it.

Bobby D
11-23-2010, 01:05 PM
i took vocal lessons from junior high on.....chorus class....

then in the 80s, when i was playing in bands, i went for training to Al Koehn, a VERY good vocal instructor who taught a lot of rock singers.

best $$$ i ever spent. i have been singing pretty well in bands ever since, and being a "singing guitarist" gets me a lot more gigs, PLUS i can do solo acoustic gigs as well.

CaseyI
11-23-2010, 01:07 PM
This is good advice but please remember that Scott Stapp is/was famous.

Did you ever consider the that Scott Stapp naturally sounds like Veder and isn't doing Pearl Jam kareokee? Out of 6ish Billion people on this planet, it isn't that far fetched to think 2 people sound alike.

damnuandurdog
11-23-2010, 01:14 PM
Did you ever consider the that Scott Stapp naturally sounds like Veder and isn't doing Pearl Jam kareokee? Out of 6ish Billion people on this planet, it isn't that far fetched to think 2 people sound alike.

Sure, the tone and range of the voice could be in the same ballpark except that Stapp does the same lack of pronunciation on consonants that was a Vedder trademark before Creed ever came out.

I guess the original point I was trying to make was that everyone should always strive to find their own 'voice' whether it be through singing or even playing an instrument but to say no one's gotten famous by copying someone else is (sadly) untrue.

Blue Strat
11-23-2010, 01:16 PM
Like Eddie Vedder but Christian. Google.

I guess the definition of famous is somewhat subjective, but point taken.

damnuandurdog
11-23-2010, 01:18 PM
I guess the definition of famous is somewhat subjective, but point taken.

Not really, he was the lead singer of world's largest rock band (at the time). What's 'good' is definitely subjective though ;)

rich2k4
11-23-2010, 01:36 PM
here is a clip of me singing 6 years ago

http://www.box.net/shared/hro7c66kdj


here are a few clips of me singing from this year.

yes you can get better


http://www.box.net/shared/dg1koumr6y

http://www.box.net/shared/kg47f26tej

http://www.box.net/shared/ccge3v9rzd

Zelmo
11-23-2010, 02:02 PM
I'm thinking Garrison Keiller here....

Derek Q
11-23-2010, 03:23 PM
I guess anything's possible. I mean, it's amazing that this guy went from this:
LrQt7VGdyzA

To this:
BEivX0mRnFY

Blue Strat
11-23-2010, 03:29 PM
Not really, he was the lead singer of world's largest rock band (at the time). What's 'good' is definitely subjective though ;)

Really, how many people were in the band, 50? :rotflmao

BMF Effects
11-23-2010, 03:39 PM
I should have been clearer on my Warren Haynes reference. I'm not looking to sing like Warren (although it would be nice), I was questioning whether or not one could be taught to sing with that rough, soulful tone? However I think I got my answer in a previous post...if you've got a thin, reedy voice then copping James Hetfield vocal stylings may be a little out of reach. :D

voodoosound
11-23-2010, 03:50 PM
Everyone is born with certian talents, skills, etc. Lessons and hard work can build on that and improve what you've got but the old "you can be whatever you want" is a fantasy.

I do like that you added the part about commitment and dedication though, that (and hard work) is the part that too many people ignore while assuming they can do whatever they want.

I know of very few as in maybe 1 in 10 million that are born with talents. Meaning someone can just pickup a guitar and start playing it. Some may have a better understanding of it from the get go but NO ONE is a "natural" at anything. Everything is learned and cultivated. Some children speak at an earlier age than others. It doesn't mean they grow up to be more skilled at the english language. And if they had never been exposed to the language they are speaking they wouldn't just start speaking as if it were a talent they were born with.

Adaptability is certainly something people may be born with but talent is not. A great vocalist doesn't just start singing one day and have a GREAT voice. They cultivate it over time. Someone who has never sung or thinks they can't sing can surely learn to be a good even great singer with time and dedication.

Besides in todays music world you don't need to know how to sing anymore anyway. AUTOTUNE.;)

tweedster
11-23-2010, 06:51 PM
First - Vocal potential is limited by your physical attributes (vocal chords, throat opening, age, etc.)

Second - technique

I took vocal lessons for 2 years and it helped a bunch. I established my range, and learned about singing the vowels. It took me about 7 years to get comfortable in my skin as a singer. I figured that it took me that long to get a good "Clapton style" vibrato, why should the vocal instrument be any different - except you can really damage your voice by doing too much, and you can't "see" how other guys are doing it (until you get good enough/used to your vocal instrument to hear what is going on).

I used to work way to hard. Now I usually make my vocal entrance on beat 2. I relaxed, I tried to sing like myself. I'm no Pavaroti, but I get a pleasant tone/performance that puts the story I'm telling across. I save the the fireworks for the guitar playing.

greggorypeccary
11-23-2010, 08:17 PM
I know of very few as in maybe 1 in 10 million that are born with talents. Meaning someone can just pickup a guitar and start playing it. Some may have a better understanding of it from the get go but NO ONE is a "natural" at anything. Everything is learned and cultivated. Some children speak at an earlier age than others. It doesn't mean they grow up to be more skilled at the english language. And if they had never been exposed to the language they are speaking they wouldn't just start speaking as if it were a talent they were born with.

Adaptability is certainly something people may be born with but talent is not. A great vocalist doesn't just start singing one day and have a GREAT voice. They cultivate it over time. Someone who has never sung or thinks they can't sing can surely learn to be a good even great singer with time and dedication.

Besides in todays music world you don't need to know how to sing anymore anyway. AUTOTUNE.;)

I wasn't referring to someone being immediately able to do something, of course their skills need to be developed. I was just saying that we all have different natural abilities due to our genetics. We are all born with equal rights in the good ol' USA, but we are not all born equal. That's a fact.

I like your take on it being adaptability, but that is still something you would be born with.

I teach high school and some of the talent I see is amazing. These aren't people who have put in a ton of time yet, by virtue of being kids, but they have something (art, music, whatever) that others don't. That's what has formed my opinion on that.

As for myself, I could never get the hang of art when I was in school, but I picked up music right away. Then I practiced. And practiced some more. Then picked up the guitar and it all went to hell! ;)

Sure, pretty much anyone can learn to do pretty much anything to some level of competence, but the ones who stand out, especially at a young age have "it".

But I'm more against all that feel-good, "you can be whatever you want to be" crap because it leads too many people to feeling that they can do something with out putting in the time and work. Look at all those American Idol audition clips of people who think they can sing and can become a star. But I think that would be a whole different topic.

Jon C
11-23-2010, 08:29 PM
A person can be taught anything. Some pick things up quicker than others. But EVERYONE has the same chances to become what they want to be. Its all about self programming and commitment and dedication to your goal.

I agree w/ Tweedster.

IMO ... depends on you & your voice... my cousin is an opera singer/teacher; her view is that not everyone can sing, you can teach anyone to try but not all can really do it... if you have already, you probably can now. She has said/believes that just by listening to your speaking voice, she can get a decent read on how well you can progress with/benefit from voice lessons and whether you have a voice that inherently is suited toward singing well/passably. She encouraged me for years to sing & take lessons when I kept telling her I couldn't sing.... I finally started in '97 or so.

as to style, my voice teacher (RIP Doug), who was a pro who did musical theater, opera, rock (was w/ .38 Special at one point), etc., believed that you had to match your style to your voice/ability... as he said to me once, "I can make you a blues growler and a crooner, but I'm not sure we can make you a screamer [a la Robt. Plant/hard rock singer]"... we both LOL ...

some of it is inherent, some of it is learned technique & skill... having a good teacher is a huge help in bringing out what works best for you/ any individual IMO...

Good luck,
Jon

55hz
11-23-2010, 08:50 PM
Have you ever heard someone just whistling absent-mindedly and they have crazy good "Mr. Bluebird on my Shoulder-Disney vibrato"? Some people, like Warren, were just born singers. It feels good to them, they just do it. Maybe they end up working on it more later on, but those folks have always had "it". Warren has never been "average" and actually I think his age has made his resonance go up in timbre, like happens to most men. (as they age...)

Anyway, yes, as on any instrument, its best to try to sound like yourself. Find YOUR range and sing in it!

It's just that in singing, if you try to sound exactly like someone else, you could end up hurting yourself. Vocal Nodes, even loss of speaking voice. Proper technique is key.

Also, I'm not sure I believe all this "You can't do this, gotta be born with that" thing. I know it seems that it contradicts what I said earlier, but not really. Someone said earlier that phrasing is important, and I agree. Listening to music, AS WELL AS, taking vocal lessons can help you get there. But in the end it's hard work. Hard, hard work. And don't let people tell you what you CANT do.

AustinWB
03-20-2011, 09:24 PM
Yes a person can taught to sing, for modern music, look for a teacher that teaches the old opera method, or seek out teachers who have taught professional musicians. There are lots of breathing and vocal excersises involved. Most of the students of the teacher I studied under had a 5 to 7 octave range after a few years if they did the work. I was able to mimic many other vocalist and never had any ill effects with my voice from it. My teacher often told me that, The begining and ending of singing is breath"

Best Regards

Austin

Ken Ho
03-21-2011, 01:40 AM
Yes and yes.
I did it with lessons.
I believed I had no hope, but needed voice remediation anyway, so I chose to do that with a vocal coach.
I can sing fine now, in my range, though my voice tires easily and I lack endurance. I sing much better when I sing "properly". Rock singing knocks me around a lot quicker.
I sing best when I sound like myself, not anybody else.

mcdes
03-21-2011, 01:44 AM
I used to sing, but am now crap after not singing for five years. The muscles I used to use have weakened over time, and with practice, will strengthen and come back.

Lessons are ways the best way to go, specially if you are serious.

fierce_carrot
03-21-2011, 06:09 AM
Neil Young, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan pretty much show that anybody can stand before a microphone and "sing"...

jhvox
03-21-2011, 07:04 AM
I teach voice for a living (so yes, I think they are worth it :) ) Everyone can improve with lessons, not everyone can be great.

Dr. Tweedbucket
03-21-2011, 07:17 AM
I think you are either born with the ability to hear and sing good pitch or not... and that is something you have to nail to be a good singer. There are plenty of good professional singers who sing a little off pitch, and I suppose you can say that is part of their 'charm' but a true professional can recognize that and reel it in when it counts.

So, you have IMO pitch as being the most important, and then there is your range and knowing what your sweet spot is, phrasing, vibrato and falsteo.

I've always could hear pretty good pitch and so had a good running start. I learned a lot in trying to copy my favorite vocalists and by listening carefully and practicing on tape, picked up on some pretty good tricks over the years. I always thought it was cool how some singers and stair step quickly up (in perfect pitch) to a higher or lower note. They way certain words are sustained or annuciated make a difference too.

Basically, if you can record yourself and like what you hear when you listen back, you are on the right track. Too, when other people compliment your efforts, that's another good sign.

Remember too, that doubling tracks and a little reverb can make a thinner voice sound much, much larger !! :) Just my 2 cents!

jaycee
03-21-2011, 08:15 AM
Still, if you aren't naturally a good singer you are pretty much out of luck.

I can vouch for this. If you just don't have it, you just don't have it. Lessons might help you improve what you do have but you can't go from trash to treasure.

SW33THAND5
03-21-2011, 08:29 AM
some people just can not sing. (i am not sure if you fall into this catagory)


that being said... vocal lessons can teach you how to improve what you have and learn things like, breathing, falsetto, mic technique, working within your range, etc.

i love elliott smith. he has a 'mousey voice' but he does wonderful things. just learn your voice. find your voice. be comfortable and confident with your voice. and work within your range.


lessons can help.:wave

Mike Fleming
03-21-2011, 10:13 AM
Nobody is a born guitar player or piano player either; you learn. Same with singing. There is ear training, technique, muscle development, breathing, resonant spaces, etc.

A lot of people who are "naturals" might actually be; but think about how many of them might have grown up singing, from the time they could talk, perhaps casually, but nevertheless learning and developing, in a way that perhaps isn't obvious.

And insecurity about one's singing voice often exacerbates the bad things - it makes you tighten up the wrong muscles, close up your head, and hold back air - which can make you think your voice is even worse.

The human voice is incredibly powerful, adaptable and shapable; you just have to learn how to use it. Some of us did, some of us have not yet.

And one thing specifically about singing correct pitches: besides having to work on your control to hit notes (like learning a fretless instrument), the use of resonant spaces in your head makes it much easier to hear that you are hitting pitches, and improper use of those spaces will make it much harder. So a problem with hitting pitches may not mean that you have no ear or no capacity to hit notes; it may just mean you haven't developed the control yet or are not singing in a way that helps you hear if you're in tune.

RhytmEarl
03-21-2011, 11:31 AM
marked for later.

good thread!

tiktok
03-21-2011, 12:01 PM
I used to sing in bands when I was in high school and had a pretty passable voice but that changed when I quit smoking but I'm wondering if singing lessons would help get that back?

Yes, but you will have to do a lot of focussed practicing.

cruisemates
03-21-2011, 12:19 PM
Scottl - I really feel your pain. I am exactly the same way - a very good ear and dexterity on guitar, but singing just does not come naturally to me at all.

I was in chorus in high school and I fully understand you have to LEARN a song before you can sing it, but it is disheartening when you try to make your voice do a phrase you know in your head and something different comes out.

I have no "natural" range (unless I've had a few beers) - largely because I get nervous about singing and I sound strained when I get that way. It's a bad thing.

Sensible Musician
03-21-2011, 12:49 PM
I think the best advice was the person above that said learning to use what you have is the key. I remember reading, when I was into martial arts, Bruce Lee mentioning all his shortcomings, his problem areas and how he learned to use what he had.

I think the biggest mistakes some bands make are trying to force the vocalist to sound like the record on many different covers, get your voice going doing whatever it is best at, and use that...rephrase, rewrite the melody line to be close but tailored to you.

That's in fact what Warren Haynes obviously does when he sings covers, he NEVER sounds like he's trying to cop the original singing style, he always sounds like Warren, and I hear a LOT of improvement in his singing from the first Govt Mule album to the later ones.

He's comfortable with his voice (have no idea if he took lessons though)...

i'm no expert on voice. i'm 39 and i still have on my someday/maybe list "voice lessons" LOL

but yes to this quote 100%. take joe bonamassa as an example. his development as a singer is easy to track because he has kinda grown up musically as a noted recording artist. i.e. he's been lauded as a musical genius the whole time he was coming up and there are recordings of him ca. 20 years ago. he has definitely hit full maturity on "dust bowl" and his voice sounds different than before. it's more relaxed and natural. seems like he relaxed from studying his venerable heroes and focused on finding the natural sound of his voice. it is thinner, much less cookie monster/growling than before. sounds FANTASTIC - night and day, head and shoulders better than anything of his i've heard before.

when i hear a cover singer changing tone and style between songs, it's a little uncanny, like watching a severely autistic kid parrot a louis armstrong performance verbatim, almost down to the waveform. it's much more to the point of the enterprise to reinterpret the melody with what you've got: chops, repertoire of "licks", and timber

consider the concept of tribute bands: there are eleventy billion led zeppelin tribute bands, but most don't command attention/market/whatever like dread zeppelin:
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slimjw
03-21-2011, 01:45 PM
I always get riled up when notions of natural talent or "gifted" enter the discussion. People do possess different physical attributes that influence their voice, but I really think almost anyone can learn to sing. There may be a small minority of folks with some sort of vocal chord deformity, but this has got to be a pretty minute percentage of the whole.

One problem with a discussion about this is that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "good" singing. Do you mean good like an opera singer, or good like Robert Johnson, or Robert Plant? Maria Carey or Loretta Lynn? Vastly different singers and stylings, but all considered good or great by different people. I know this is sort of a semantics thing, but do think it's important to define, at least for yourself.

Personally, I can't stand opera or classical singing. I'll take froggy old Bob Dylan or mousey Elliott Smith over that stuff any day of the week. Give me a crappy voice with some character and I am all over it.

And also, I totally disagree with people saying not to sound like someone else. Ultimately you will settle into your own thing, but mimicking other singers is an important way to learn how to do things with your voice that you might not otherwise be able to pull off. It's just like playing guitar; you mess around with different styles to learn them and at some point you synthesize all the information and hopefully the influences come out in unique ways.

There are so many examples of popular singers doing this; Paul McCartney's Little Richard thing? Robert Plant talks in interviews of standing in front of the mirror for hours as a teenager trying to perfect every last element of Elvis' vocal and performance inflections. He did the same thing trying to mimick Robert Johnson's sound and delivery. You really have to do this if you want to cop any of the characteristics in your own music. The key is to not sound like you're aping someone else, but that only comes with time and you might as well embrace the process.

There are a few vocal teachers I've known who are quite enthusiastic about the notion of "playing" with your voice as a way to get to know it and to sing in different ways. Yes, we all have certain innate characteristics to our voices, but the human voice is a lot more flexible than most will admit. Think about comedians and all the different voices they do. Maybe some are better at it than others, but there's something for all of us to learn by be willing to sound "weird" or try to sing like someone else.

Most people can learn to sing good enough to be psyched about it and be able to contribute in a musical situation. I really think the notion of certain people being more "gifted" than others just winds up becoming another barrier to getting in there and getting your hands dirty and seeing what you are capable of. Gifted is an overrated concept in every aspect of life. There are a lot of gifted people who are sitting in bars getting drunk right now instead of singing their asses off or winning the NYC Marathon. Meanwhile, the rest of have to work at figuring out where we wind up on the continuum.

I think the answers you'll get will be colored by people's perceptions of what "good" means, just as mine is. But people should be shift their interest to making progress over perfection (tired phrase, I know). I am always more inspired by someone doing something cool with what they've got than never giving it a go just because they don't think they'll ever be very good.

Ken Ho
03-21-2011, 03:09 PM
I didn't say to never try and sound like someone else.
I said I sing best when I sound like myself. That's because I'm more relaxed, and using resonance properly, and using my natural range.
I agree that exploring different vocal characters is interesting and fun and instructive.
When I was having lessons, each week I would have a song to study.
Sometimes I would down-load a version, and mimic the vocal qualities of say, Cat Stevens, or Nat King Cole, or Placido Domingo, especially his accent etc. Sometimes I'd really ham it up, for fun.
Eventually, sometimes after a lot of giggling, my teacher would make me sing it in my own voice too.