Can Anyone Learn to Sing?
So you are a music tutor, espousing your knowledge and shaping the minds of students in all things musical. Teaching any kind of beginner has its challenges: there are physical considerations, confidence, work ethic and more that can be hurdles that students and their tutor must overcome. But with willingness on both sides, those baby steps into early guitar chords, the first plucks of a harp or beginning to work with drum rhythms can soon turn into something successful. Getting through this initial beginner stage is crucial to future development and ensuring that students stick to their guns and carry on with their instrument. And yet in terms of confidence, there are few harder musical barriers to overcome than singing.
For some, singing seems to come naturally. Whether this originates in someone discovering talent in a competition, education through church or school choirs or even some self confidence from singing in the shower, for some it is an activity without others. But can anyone learn to sing? Many professional musicians will confess to not having the requisite ability or self belief to stand in front of a microphone and belt their heart out. Much like public speaking, it can often be touted as an ability that you either have or haven’t got. So how do you teach someone who feels they belong in the latter camp?
Firstly, anyone can be taught the basics. There are scores of celebrated musicians who are not conventionally talented singers, but are graced with the confidence and charisma to perform. Some singers of this ilk are actually praised for their distinctiveness, with widely respected artists such as Bob Dylan possessing an unmistakeable tone that is all theirs. Much also depends on the expectations of those learning to sing. If they are setting out to belt out ballads like Celine Dion or croon like Frank Sinatra, perhaps they are attempting to do too much, too soon. Also bad habits from those singing in an amateur setting – namely karaoke – can have a detrimental effect on learning.
The biggest hurdle is confidence. If someone is seeking out lessons then they are already one step closer to being able to sing, but plucking up the courage to perform in front of a tutor can be a bridge too far. That is why a singer teacher should be supportive and sensitive to this issue, providing a learning environment that is fun, free from stress and pressure and a place where the student can feel as though they can make mistakes. This is where group singing lessons, such as community choirs, can provide a boost. Here students are not asked to perform solo and as such may feel the pressure is lifted and that they can try out new techniques without feeling the heat.
Some new learners may have musical experience. For these students, they may be frustration at a lack of progress. But my demonstrating the basics and working out the early limits of a student, an experienced teacher can find ways to motivate and get the best out of anyone. Singing is open to everyone and by mastering basic techniques – breathing, rhythm and pitch – there are no limits to what you can achieve. What are your experiences with teaching singers? Any tips for helping beginners to get involved? And if you teach an instrument and have begun to learn yourself, how are you finding it? Let us know your thoughts and opinions by getting in touch!
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