By christabelcossins, May 21 2014 05:47PM
The most common question I’m asked when people find out I’m a singing teacher is, “Can anyone learn to sing?”. The answer I always give is that, with the right teacher, everyone can improve upon the the singing voice they currently have. Maybe not everyone will become a great singer, but I have never taught a person whose voice did not improve after having lessons. Being a great singer is dependent on several things (this is by no means a definitive list):
These things can all be improved upon with singing lessons from a good singing teacher. What makes a good singing teacher? Well someone who knows how to achieve all of the above in their pupils without encouraging techniques that cause strain on the voice. They will also be able to instruct their pupils on vocal hygiene, which a very important thing to know about if you want to sing professionally or just improve your singing voice. Not adhering to vocal hygiene rules, such as not over-using the voice, not smoking, etc. could lead to stresses and strains on the voice that are not conducive to improving one’s voice. I think a really important, and maybe obvious, thing to point out is that what constitutes a voice that you find pleasing to listen to, emotionally moving, and to your taste is subjective, and that kind of voice does not have to be a “good” in the technical sense. However, there are agreed upon facets that create a “good” voice. Line Hilton, a singer and singing teacher, wrote the following list of common elements that are generally agreed upon when identifying “good singing”, regardless of genre.
“1. Accurate intonation and pitch control 2. Musicality this includes rhythm and phrasing 3. Access to all areas of the range, able to navigate easily between chest, middle and head registers 4. Accesss to fullness/richness of tone, not too ‘heady’ or ‘weighty’ 5. Vocal control through out the range, no flip flopping about or straining 6. Good breath control i.e. breaths in the right place, not running out before the phrase ends 7. Access to a variety of vocal qualities and tones e.g. Fry, onsets/offsets, breathiness, falsetto, belt quality etc 8. A decent working vocal range, 2 or more octaves 9. Good dynamic control, whether pp or ff 10. Well controlled vibrato, no wobble or tremolo, can go easily from a straight tone to vibrato or visa versa 11. Ability to express emotion throughout the range 12. Words clearly understandable 13. Vocal flexibility e.g. Can access vocal licks, runs and melismas without voice falling apart 14. Longevity i.e the ability to sing through the whole gig, week, tour etc.”
This list really encapsulates what is involved in being a good singer, and, to refer back to the original question, “Can anyone learn to sing?”, with the right singing teacher, everyone really can improve in all of these areas. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if you want to improve your voice then a few singing lessons is the perfect way to do it.