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Can anyone learn to sing

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Pete 18 Mar 98 - 02:19 AM
steve t 18 Mar 98 - 03:17 AM
Eric 18 Mar 98 - 04:45 AM
Jaxon 18 Mar 98 - 09:11 AM
Alice 18 Mar 98 - 10:43 AM
Alice 18 Mar 98 - 11:22 AM
nobbler 18 Mar 98 - 11:25 PM
Moira Cameron 19 Mar 98 - 01:05 PM
Art Thieme 19 Mar 98 - 01:47 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 98 - 02:53 PM
Jon W. 19 Mar 98 - 04:07 PM
wolf 19 Mar 98 - 06:22 PM
Pete 19 Mar 98 - 06:30 PM
wolf 19 Mar 98 - 06:33 PM
Alice 19 Mar 98 - 06:38 PM
Charlie (Toronto) 19 Mar 98 - 07:36 PM
steve t 21 Mar 98 - 02:42 PM
Alice 21 Mar 98 - 02:51 PM
MAG 21 Mar 98 - 07:26 PM
Dan Keding 22 Mar 98 - 01:08 PM
Dan Keding 22 Mar 98 - 01:09 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 22 Mar 98 - 09:44 PM
Frank in the swamps 23 Mar 98 - 05:33 AM
Alice 23 Mar 98 - 10:58 AM
Barry Finn 24 Mar 98 - 01:23 AM
steve t 24 Mar 98 - 02:06 AM
Frank in the swamps 24 Mar 98 - 06:13 AM
Moira Cameron 24 Mar 98 - 10:44 AM
Alice 24 Mar 98 - 11:13 AM
Jerry Friedman 25 Mar 98 - 07:06 PM
Barbara Shaw 27 Mar 98 - 08:54 AM
steve t 27 Mar 98 - 01:16 PM
Barry Finn 27 Mar 98 - 11:19 PM
Alice 02 Oct 00 - 10:35 AM
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Alice 03 Jan 02 - 09:47 AM
Mr Red 03 Jan 02 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,misophist 03 Jan 02 - 10:43 AM
53 03 Jan 02 - 11:45 AM
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Subject: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Pete
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 02:19 AM

I have played Bouzouki and Mandolin for a while now mainly celtic music sessions, recently I have purchased a guitar and progressing quite well. Now is the time for me to get some songs together to join in the singing at our house sessions.

My friends (who can sing) say anyone can learn to sing. Is this true do you think? My first efforts raises serious doubts in my mind re the validity of their statements. Through my tune playing I understand the chord structures needed and I have dozens of songs I would like to sing, but to be frank they don't come out to well as yet. Obviously practice, practice, practice is the way to improve, but where is the starting point. Any sugestions Pete


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: steve t
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 03:17 AM

I don't think everyone can learn to sing passably. I've met a partially deaf person and a "mentally challenged" person who were both just plain irritating. Everyone else I've *ever* heard was somewhat pleasing to my ear...but singing well? That takes years and years of practice, as well as physical ability and musical talent. A good warm-up also helps.

I think the hardest thing to do for most beginners is to concentrate on the music instead of the emotion. It feels awful not to concentrate on the emotion, but concentrating on the music will eventually pay off.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Eric
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 04:45 AM

Hi Pete! I'm no technical singing expert but I've been there, so I can beak off a little. A true story! Sorry, this turned into a bit of a novel, but it's nice to share something near to my heart with someone...

When I started in bands at about 16, I had no singing experience but my ear was somewhat trained from years in school band and my exposure to a lot of music in the home. So, while I would work out the hard parts and teach the other band members the parts, the bastards would not let me near a microphone. Of course, I was no doubt terrible, but looking back I should have been much more demanding of a chance to try. Hell, I owned one of the three mic's!

I slowly got the odd chance to add a bit here and there as backup vocals, mostly ooh's & aah's. My first attempts at lead vocals were actually not bad because by total fluke, I had picked cover tunes that were not too demanding, probably because I was still very insecure. Then, with the ice broken, I thought I was on my way. I grabbed songs that were totally out of my range (range? what's that?) and proceeded to make a fool of myself. I learned the hard way that what you can sort of pull off in the relaxed, controlled rehearsal situation requires a whole different approach live. With the stage volume stupidly loud and the monitors non-existant, I couldn't hear a thing, so I pushed harder and blew my voice out. Very embarrassing. Furthermore, we had about three weeks of work ahead. Somehow we struggled through, then I quit. The thing is, I then thought that I had no talent for singing. I retreated into my shell and did not try again for a long time.

Anyway, the years went by (now in my upper-mid 20's) and I became just somebody's bass player for many years. Not much singing lately. Good guitarist's were always a dime a dozen, so I got more work on bass. Then, I began to get calls for fill ins on country gigs and old rock&roll acts. I realized that not all music required on to sing really high notes to be efective and appreciated. I met nice people that were more interested in the feeling that I tried to put into my vocals rather than any technical wizardry. I began to feel relaxed and welcome to the microphone. I still wasn't very good but I was learning.

By this time I had been doing a duo with a guy who was a very strong singer. This is what I recommend! Find a similar situation, listen, learn and practice your harmony singing. I find it interesting that some think of backup singing as the easier role. Ha! You generally end up singing higher parts, you have to learn to nail a note cold, from nowhere, and you have to project just as loudly plus forming a vocal tone that blends well. Great training though. Work into the lead singing gradually. Singing all night at the volume required takes fair energy and careful pacing.

Anyway, eventually, I wanted to get off the road because my first son was born and I wanted to watch him grow up. There was very little duo work in town so what to do?

A single act. Scared the hell out of me! All by myself! Took some little gigs 1 hr. out of town where no one would know me, singing mostly old country and old R&R with a dinky P.A., a 12 string acoustic and a cheezy beat box. By God, they liked it and no one insulted my singing! I'd beaten my worst ememy, me.

Singing in a way that most people will sit and listen to does require that you can sing moderately in tune. This requires experience. However, I remember taping several nights of my duo in a packed club, singing our asses off and thinking we were dead on! The best gig we'd ever done! The place went nuts and we played 1½ hours overtime. I listened to the tapes 2 days later and discovered that I was badly over-singing and maddeningly and consistantly SHARP all night! It was horrendous - but who cared? Who really noticed? Our enthusiasm and energy that night far overshadowed this. Sometimes we worry about all the wrong things.

I'm now 42. I play every weekend in pubs, lounges and one nighters (dances & parties)as a single act. I sing everything from Frankie Valee to Willie Nelson, ZZ Top to Roger Whittaker, Beatles to Tom Waits, Stan Rogers to Billy Idol, Proclaimers to Gary Moore, Waylon to Van Halen. It's a riot! I make good money doing this. If i had not has "big ears" and an open mind, I would have ended up a one trick pony and certainly not doing this. This was total luck, not foresite, but I'm a happy camper. A lot of people laughed at my attempts over the years and suggested I move along. I'm glad I'm stubborn, and didn't quit. I'm still not "super vocalist" and my tone is not incredible but what the hell. Many think I am very good and a lot of old faces that have since drifted off the track can't believe it. I love entertaining and the rest is details.

My experiences have taught me: be persistant and insistant, don't worry too much about what others think (for now), sing songs you like, don't be afraid to transpose down a key or two (if the song still has some kick), try different styles of music early in the game. There is no substitute for hands-on experience. Start now, go hard and believe in your dream to be a singer.

I believe that with practice, just about everyone can sing. Who's to say whether you can or can't? Listen to some of (my fave's)the great character voices like Dylan, Prine, Waits, Hiatt, even the guys from AC/DC. Millions love 'em, some don't, so who's right? Who cares? Listen to all the singing styles that you can. Borrow from many. Discover your natural range, get really familiar with it, the expAND it. Try harder stuff.

Love it or hate it, Karaoke has given a lot of people an opportunity to find a talent they might never have discovered otherwise. Actually, it's excellent training! It really is.

Well, it's late and this prolonged rambling has gone quite long enough. Though totally off the cuff, I suppose it has been fun to share my thoughts but most importantly, I hope that if you are even a bit more inspired to go for it a bit harder, it's not for naught. Man, I wish that someone had given me some basic belief back then.

Peace, & happy trails!

Eric, from Alberta, Canada


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Jaxon
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 09:11 AM

Hey Pete! If you know when it doesn't sound right then you have an ear and you can learn to sing just fine. If a piece you've been working on sounds fine as an insrumental but off when you sing then you should experiment by changing keys. Find the key that suits YOUR voice to the song. True story; I never sang growing up. No confidence etc.. I would sing along at the folk masses in my parish because the psalm says "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord". It doesn't say sing in tune. After one Mass the woman sitting next to me told me how much she enjoyed my voice. Since we were in church I half believed her. I went to the leader of our folk group and asked him to listen to me. A week later I was singing at Mass and within a month I had picked up a guitar. All at age 42! Now at 49 I play in song circles, open mics etc..

Something I learned was to sing a capella and bring the guitar in. If it didn't sound right I changed the guitar, not my voice. Good luck.

Jack Murray


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 10:43 AM

Pete, I have talked about my classical voice teacher in other threads, (so forgive me those who have already read this before) and I must tell you that having a good voice teacher makes all the difference in the world. (I have a page about how 'you are never to old to sing' at my website if you want to check that out.)
http://www.mcn.net/acflynn/

I am lucky that I found an excellent teacher and performer who charges me only $10 a lesson!! She could charge $100 an hour if she was in a city, but we are in a little town in Montana, so she knows that is what people can afford. I went to her because I knew I wanted to have the confidence to sing Well. I found out that although I had years of choir in school, from grade 4 thru high school, NONE of the really important techniques had been taught to us about how to use our vocal chords, muscles in the mouth and face, placement, and how to breathe correctly to have support for a good sound as well as enough breath to phrase the music correctly (not breaking to take a breath in the middle of a word, musical line, or lyrical phrase.) I tape each lesson, and she sometimes videotapes me so that I can really hear and see what I am doing. A Good teacher will give you challenging classical pieces to learn, even though you never perform in that style, because it stretches your voice to use the techniques that are necessary to really know how to sing. One of the first things she told me is, this is all physical, like an athlete. You have to think of it the same way an athlete does in training. Every day you use the muscles in your body in certain ways, and in training them to do things correctly, they get stronger and you get so that you can control muscles you didn't even know you had. She is right. It is just like training to do gymnastics or track or any other physical skill that requires knowledge of technique, daily practice, and good coaching. To sing well, you have to be able to lift the soft palate (the roof of the mouth in back) to create space for a good sound, to be able to hold the muscles on the floor of your abdomen down to allow room for the diaphragm to contain as much air for as long as it can, and to learn to control the muscles that move the ribs, so you can expand the ribs out to allow more air in. You have to know how to relax muscles in the face and mouth that want to tighten up, where to place the tongue, etc. This and more takes training by a good teacher, and practice. BUT, just like in athletics, if you were not born with the necessary physical attributes, no matter how much you practice, you won't be as good as someone born with what it takes. For singing, it takes a set of good sounding vocal chords, and a good "ear", or ability to hear when you are singing the right note. Singing is my passion. If you want more information on technique, just email to me or leave a message here.
acflynn@mcn.net


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 11:22 AM

If the web address I posted above doesn't work, try this
http://www.mcn.net/~acflynn/index.html


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: nobbler
Date: 18 Mar 98 - 11:25 PM

The fact that you are learning (or improving on) your guitar skills might a valuable tool in loosening up the old warble box and vice versa.

Many years ago, something that helped me no end was simply singing the notes I played whilst learning various scales. Eventually that turned into singing the notes I played in simple solos and finally I was in the position where I could pop a finger on the fretboard and sing the note before I'd actually played it. It also allowed me to immediately reach for and play a note I was singing, which is very handy when writing melody.

You don't have to have a great sounding voice, you will know if you are way off key if you play music as you've said, slightly out of key you can get away with if you do it confidently. Hell, Dylan's been getting away with it for years!

Remember, most people sing flat, so sing flatly with a sharp voice and all will even out. :-)


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Moira Cameron
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 01:05 PM

I strongly believe that anyone can sing. I suppose different people put emphasis on different things; but for me, it is not the quality of voice that impresses me most, but the spirit behind it. Quality will improve with time and practice.

I basically learned to sing a capella first, then added instruments. My husband was the opposite. For years, he put most of his energy towards perfecting his guitar playing. Then, when he started singing he basically was singing to accompany his guitar. He didn't realize this at first, of course. A lot of guitar players do that, we've noticed.

I tend to disagree with Steve T's message above about learning to concentrate at first on the music rather than the emotion. Obviously, you need to concentrate on the music, but I don't think you need to do that exclusively. If you can hold a tune, I wouldn't worry overly much about its musical quality of acurracy. That's something that will develop over time, with practice. What most people hear is the message of the song, not the technical aspects of the music. And the message comes across in the story and emotions you feel, not in whether you are singing in 'head tones' or from your 'diaphragm'.

The most important advice I give to people who want to sing is: don't worry if you don't sound like so and so whose voice you really admire. Every voice is different. You have to try to discover what's special about your own voice and learn to make use of it. Imitating other people's singing styles is useful only if you are trying to learn more about your own voice's potential and limitations, but if you don't find a style that is uniquly your own, your singing won't sound as true (with or without bum notes.)

Good luck,

Moira, from Yellowknife


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 01:47 PM

If Stephen Wade could learn to sing, ANYBODY CAN!!!


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 02:53 PM

I think that most people sound only so-so when they sing solo, but they sound wonderful when they sing together. Singing together is one of the most wonderful forms of human interaction I can think of. One suggestion I'd like to propose for group singing - sing so you can hear your voice blend with other voices, but not so strongly that your own voice is the only voice you hear.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Jon W.
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 04:07 PM

Confidence is very important. My wife is an excellent singer, has sung in choirs in college, with the symphony, etc. She also nearly destroyed my confidence early on when I started attempting to sing with my guitar for family and friends. I think she was embarrassed when I was off key. To this day I have a hard time singing when I know she is listening. My cousin, on the other hand, who is also a great singer, has always tried to boost my confidence and compliment me on my progress. We have performed together a few times and I have sung lead on some of the songs we've done, even with an audience. I'm an over-inhibited white Anglo-Saxon male and it takes a heap of confidence to overcome the inhibitions that bind up my tongue and vocal chords.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: wolf
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 06:22 PM

yes. i live in phoenix and have a pick up band and have helped several people withthis same problem


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Pete
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 06:30 PM

What a great site. Thanks everyone for your advice and encouragement, it certainly has reinforced my commitment to learn to sing.

I sang for the first time in front of friends last night with positive reactions so I guess thats a start.

Look forward to joining in your discussions in the future

regards

Pete


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: wolf
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 06:33 PM

keep going and don't stop for anyone or anything cuz if music makes you happy it will be with you for life


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 06:38 PM

Pete, you are on your way! Sing every chance you get, alone and for others. It only gets better!

alice, montana


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Charlie (Toronto)
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 07:36 PM

The statement "Anyone can learn to sing" is as true (no more, no less) as the statement "Anyone can learn to play the fiddle [or substitute any other instrument]". This truth is encouraging or discouraging according to how you view the second statement.

Someone should be honest with you: you might never be really good. Still, the more work you put in, the better you'll be; no doubt about


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: steve t
Date: 21 Mar 98 - 02:42 PM

About concentrating on the music instead of the emotion: you definitely need the emotion. What's the point in singing without it?

But oh! what a wonderful feeling you have when you believe that you're singing as close as you want to musical "correctness".

If you can stand it, yes, do what Alice suggests, and take lessons from a professional. But keep in mind that you're trying to have fun. If the lessons dry up the expressiveness that you want, drop 'em. Musical "exercises" may be the fastest way to get good, but I loathe the idea of such "exercises" in something that feels fairly sacred to me. I'll keep getting better very slowly, thank you :-)

I think, far better than lessons, is a place to practice and make mistakes without embarrassment. You'd need that to benefit very much from the lessons anyway.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 21 Mar 98 - 02:51 PM

I think that an important aspect of taking lessons in anything, whether it is music, art, or anything else, is that the teacher and the method should create an experience that you ENJOY and not something you feel you have to "stand". I guess I have been lucky in finding teachers both in art school and now in music that became my friends and were just as excited and joyful in my progress as I was. alice


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: MAG
Date: 21 Mar 98 - 07:26 PM

Whether you take lessons or not, you need to know warm up exercises to avoid raunching out your voice, and feedback on getting the sound you want saves a lotta time. Lessons from a decent teacher save a lotta time, and if you don't have lots, they are worth it.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Dan Keding
Date: 22 Mar 98 - 01:08 PM

Just sing. Keep singing whenever and wherever you get the chance. Listen to great singers and sing along with their recordings. If you enjoy singing don't worry about the rest of us. If we don't like it we can leave the room or suffer through the experience. Its folk music. its for everyone, its for you too.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Dan Keding
Date: 22 Mar 98 - 01:09 PM

Just sing. Keep singing whenever and wherever you get the chance. Listen to great singers and sing along with their recordings. If you enjoy singing don't worry about the rest of us. If we don't like it we can leave the room or suffer through the experience. Its folk music. its for everyone, its for you too.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 22 Mar 98 - 09:44 PM

I think the answer to this question is yes.

Anyone can learn to sing.

But I don't think anyone can learn to sing in any manner whatsoever. For example, I could train and practice the next 5 years and I will never sound like Van Morrison or John Gorka, I just don't have it in me. Everyone has their own individual voice (or in some individual cases several voices), that they have to discover and cultivate through experimentation. I think the main barrier to fully developing ones own voice is the fear of just "letting it all hang out" until the best that you can do finds its way to the surface.

If you are not sure what your own voice is, one of the things I recommend is to listen to different kinds of singers and try to imitate the way they sound on record. The goal of this excercise is not to mimic for its own sake, but to exploring the limits and qualities of what your own voice can do. You will quickly find certain vocal styles that you pick up easily, and others that you just can't get. Also, you will find the mimicry will only go so far, and that in the end your own voice will come through in the end.

And don't be afraid to really let loose in this effort. (I recommend to you the documentary film Say Amen Somebody, where a person instructing gospel singers in a workshop told one of her pupils to stop smiling and start snarling when they sang. "You can't sing with a pretty mouth!", was the way she put it.).

Another suggestion I have is exactly the opposite of the one above. Try as much as possible to sing using your own natural diction. That is, try to sing words the way YOU would typically pronounce them them in normal conversation. No vibrato, no operatic tone or timbre. Just try to talk the words to the melody. You will be suprised at first how much concentration this takes. In all the effort to make the melody or the emotion come out, we stop making words in way that is natural to us, and doing so we lose our own natural voice.

Some individuals who are wonderful at singing in their own voice are Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Mississippi John Hurt. I also recommend the singing of Ginny Hawker, a mountain ballad singer from West Virginia.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 23 Mar 98 - 05:33 AM

Possibly my favourite singer ever is Billy Holiday. She had very little range and really, no tone or "sound" that would get anybody's attention, but she could take that beat up, raggedy instrument and sing like an angel.

I found Steve T's, comment about emotion interesting. This would be a case where a good teacher, or an honest critic could be helpful. Someone who is over-emoting can be downright embarrassing to listen to, but of course feeling is the magic ingredient. I know I'm not a very good singer myself, so I just focus on getting the tune right. If the song is good, people like it fine so long as you don't hurt their ears.

Frank I.T.S.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 23 Mar 98 - 10:58 AM

The idea that learning some singing technique will suddenly make everything you sing sound like opera is ridiculous! It would be absurd to sing non-classical music in a classical manner. My point is that you can take what will help you and sing in your own way, singing any kind of music you want. The idea that voice lessons will make you sound unnatural is a misconception. How many of you have taken some lessons on an instrument and then gone on to play the instrument exactly the way that felt right for you? It's the same with singing. Whether you learn technique from a teacher or not, the point is to sing in the way that feels right for you. But, just as it is hard to listen to someone try to play the fiddle who is painfully off-key, it is hard to listen to someone singing painfully off-key. I agree with Frank about Billy Holiday. Some people are born natural singers, and develop that talent without formal training. alice


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 Mar 98 - 01:23 AM

Yrs back in grammer school, 1957, I tried out for the school band (wind inst.), the Nun asked me to sing the scale & then said I wouldn't be able to play an instrument, so I also took it that I couldn't sing, & I really didn't want to. My family couldn't carry a tune, so I didn't have a clue. As a late teen I hung out with singers & musicians & didn't care if I could sing or not, I enjoyed it. After some long while of being asked to sing & being told 'I Could Sing', I started to believe it & started singing in earnest. The most guidence came from other singers, the best came from those that listened, from them I could read what was enjoyable to hear. I found that for my voice I'm best with blood & guts & hard hitting work type stuff, fits my personalty, I'm hard pressed to do emotionally well on a sweet love song, although there are a few I can do. I guess I'm saying I pick what I like, & what I think will be a perfect union between song & my voice. I also think emotion & personnel taste is important, you won't sing a song great if you don't feel great about it, the best you'll do is mimic it. And Jack (who is called Jack), you'd be wasting your 5 yrs to sound like them, they have a personnel style that has made them appealing, like Dylan, a fair voice can be enhanced with styling & other means, it all helps. Sorry for carrying on & on. Barry


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: steve t
Date: 24 Mar 98 - 02:06 AM

This topic draws me and draws me.

Regarding over-emoting. I'm not a great singer -- certainly worse than all but a very few professionals -- but occasionally I impress someone. Suzanne. Ain't no Cure for Love. A few other songs. I've had people I respected say your version, Steve, was the best I ever heard. But it *never* happens on my favourite songs.

My final comments: the most important part is getting to where you enjoy hearing *some* of your songs sung by yourself to yourself. The hardest part is learning to confidently sing *some* of your songs with other people. After that, it's all down hill. But you'll never be able to sing *all* the songs you want to as well as you'd like to.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 24 Mar 98 - 06:13 AM

Alice's comment about the stereotype of a trained singer always sounding formal reflects a broader attitude to music education. I don't know how many times I've been asked if I play by "music" or by "ear" as if the two were incompatible. I do both. To me it's like asking if you're literate or do you speak natural. Obviously music studies are not for everyone, I don't know squat about computers, but I use them. You can become a fine musician without any formal training, and if you're having fun without any long term goals of musical achievement, lessons could well be a waste of time. But it's a foolish person who disregards the accumulated experience of others.

My first guitar teacher was a fellow called Tiny Hostetter, he was wonderful guitarist with a horrible thin, reedy voice. Often he would sing and play. He told me not to be afraid of singing, that it would improve my playing, and that if I was too embarrassed to sing, just whistle. As much as he taught me about guitar, he taught me much more about life. He's gone now, and I'm getting emotional thinking about him.

Don't be afraid to sing, Frank i.t.s.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Moira Cameron
Date: 24 Mar 98 - 10:44 AM

In Yellowknife, where I live, we have monthly song circles. They are open to anyone, whether they think they can sing or not. I've been amazed, and frankly pissed off, at the number of people who, as children, were strongly advised by teachers and other adults to "mouth the words" and not even try to sing. This kind of advice went a long way to shattering the self esteem of these young children.

I'm happy to report, however, that after a lot of generous support and encouragement, these paople, now adults, are singing again at our song circles. They won't be performing any time soon, but it's a start.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 24 Mar 98 - 11:13 AM

A final comment. Having no teacher at all is better than having a bad teacher. Moira and Barry's comments brought back dark memories of my school years. I was always put in the alto section from grade 4 thru 9, then in second soprano in high school. It wasn't until I started lessons at age 44 that I found that my natural range was soprano. I think the nuns may have put me in alto because I had piano lessons and could read music. Maybe they needed more music readers to figure out the harmony line. From third grade until 7th, I had a piano teacher who was a sweet, eccentric old lady. When she became senile, my parents switched my piano classes to the school. The nun who taught me seemed to really resent my shy nerdiness. I could see her disdain of my ugly glasses and bad haircuts. Needless to say, she killed all my interest in taking piano lessons, and I didn't continue with them.
RAINBOW TRAIL
(Navajo song)
Walk on a rainbow trail; walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.

alice, mt


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 25 Mar 98 - 07:06 PM

Sorry, Moira, I was never told to just mouth the words but I figured it out for myself. I can tell I'm not singing the same notes as everybody else (or as an instrument), but I can't tell whether I'm too high or too low.

To answer the original question, I think everybody can learn to improve their singing. I could probably even learn to sing along with others if I were willing to spend the time training myself or getting the training. Maybe I could even learn to hit the final tonics, which for some reason are the hardest part.

On technique and emotion: Bob Dylan is said to sing with a lot more feeling than Joan Baez, but Baez's best songs move me a lot more. Partly it's her beautiful voice, and partly it's her restraint. If the emotion is in the music, then you "just" need to sing the music--expressively, but not emoting--and I for one will get it. If the emotion's not in the music for you, then you should probably be considering performing other songs (and you probably are).


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 27 Mar 98 - 08:54 AM

Can't resist commenting on this.

NO. Everyone can't learn to sing. My older son is a monotone, which is a genetic trait he inherited from his father, my first husband. As much as he loves music, he is incapable of "carrying a tune." I don't know if monotones hear it wrong and reproduce what they hear or just can't reproduce the correct sounds.

But if you can carry a tune, you can sing already. Some of my favorite singers are the old-time mountain voices, the more primitive the better. I also like opera. Each has its appeal.

The first time I sang a lead in a jam session, I was mortified that I sounded awful. Afterwards, someone came up to me to say how much he enjoyed my song, and what a beautiful voice, etc. etc. It's all in your outlook. Sing out!


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: steve t
Date: 27 Mar 98 - 01:16 PM

I think the next thread should be, Can anyone learn to dance? :-)


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Mar 98 - 11:19 PM

Please, I'm just getting over 2 broken legs, have a hard enough time singing Crooked Jack & A Begging I Will Go (*grin*) with out having to pay the piper for it or laugh myself into a fit. Barry


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 02 Oct 00 - 10:35 AM


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 09:21 AM

Couldn't resist reviving this one.
I've been taking singing lessons since first reading this thread, and its amazing how my opinions have changed, and how much of Alice's advice (in this and other threads) is spot-on.
First of all - proper tuition and exercises make a huge difference to the voice. I used to sing low and loud all the time, but it turns out I'm soprano & haven't been using the best part of my voice at all.
When I first started the lessons I had a very powerful developed chest voice & just a really weedy head voice. Over the initial weeks the position of the breakpoints revealed that my natural range is soprano. I gradually built up a range of good quality high notes by exercises & these are now just starting to be accessible to me in songs (to start with they were only there in the exercises).
Up until very recently I was concentrating so hard on technique that the songs Tania was teaching me via were coming out very unemotional and dull. There was also a very definite gulf between what I was learning and what I was singing at pubs & sessions (which was lagging the lessons in quality but retained the emotional expression - I continued to sing in my old voice because the new one isn't ready yet...).
Over the last few weeks Tania has been concentrating on getting me to put some communication into the songs - which is coming along slowly. Steve t advises (above) that if the lessons take the expressiveness out of your voice then drop them - but I'd argue that its worth sitting it out a while because the expression will very likely come back in just as soon as the techniques become second nature (which they do, and then you'll have more tools to express with.....)
I'm really pleased that I'm taking lessons as there is no way I could have got this far on my own. The only downside is that the more you learn the more you realise how much there is left to learn. But its well worth it...
The techniques I have learnt have spread from the exercises to the taught songs and then into the folk & blues songs that I really love singing. Just because the teaching is done in one style of music doesn't mean that it doesn't apply to the style you want to sing in.
The thing I'm struggling with at the moment is that transition between chest & voice - and trying to get the two powerful ends of my voice to meet in the middle (big gap at the moment I'm afraid).
Reaction from friends is that the lessons have been worth while and have made huge improvements in my singing, one saying that I've gone from "someone that turns up and just does their best" to one of the better performers at the session. I even impressed my husband two weeks ago at a party - but then he had been drinking.......
Another thing in favour of vocal exercises....... I assume its to do with the muscles used, but after singing practice I feel exactly the same way as I do after a damned good seeing to! Sets you up for the day, it does!
So - if you're thinking of taking lessons - then my advice is to go for it.......

Cheers'm'dears
Kris


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 09:47 AM

Kris, I'm very glad to hear this. I, too, had to be patient and really work consistently to get my low and high range to sound like one voice - just takes time and work, and you are on your way. It sounds like your progress was just about like mine, at one year of lessons. Eventually it does become second nature, and the joy of having all that power and confidence comes through in every song. I started lessons when I was 44, and I just turned 50 on December 20. You're never too old to sing!

Alice


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:18 AM

we can all sing, it just depends on how well the result is judged and by whom
and how much we want to learn - for us not for Mum, Dad or whoever.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: GUEST,misophist
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:43 AM

Of course anyone can learn to sing, even the "monotones' mentioned above. The question really is: Can anyone become the kind of singer you would pay money to hear? The answer to that, unfortunately, is no. The solution is: sing anyway, even you monotones. The first reason to sing is to please yourself; if you can please others too, that's nice but unnecessary. After all the great advice given above, the only thing I can add is to cite Stravinsky: "It's not enough to hear. A duck can hear." Listen! Listen to yourself the same way you listen to others. You may not be able to equal them but you can certainly improve.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: 53
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 11:45 AM

i've been playing guitar for 37 years most of the time professionaly, and in a working band, but until i retired i did no singing, but now i sit at home and have learned to try to sing and i think i'm doing pretty good, anyway it;s a lot of fun, glenda and i play guitar and sing together almost everyday, and that's a blessing. BOB


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: John J
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 12:01 PM

Well if I can get away with singing, anyone can!

Good luck with your singing, it's lots of fun.

John


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: 8_Pints
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 05:40 PM

I was one of those people who was not allowed to join the school choir. For years I thought I couldn't sing and only realised as an adult that it was because my voice didn't fit in to the range my music teacher required. He only asked me to sing high - I could never be a soprano however long I tried! I started joining in singarounds at folk festivals, at first with the choruses and then singing solo. I remember being amazed when I was introduced to someone as "a singer", I had just not thought about myself in that way! I have listened to many, many singers over the years and have learnt something from most of them. I sing most weeks at the Ducie Arms in Manchester (The Song Carriers Club), where I have received a lot of support and encouragement to extend my repertoire and to try out stuff that I might not have dared, had I been left to my own devices! I was a Primary school teacher for several years and used to do lots of singing with the kids - from this grew the confidence to run song workshops at Folk Camps. Singing, and listening to the singing of others, is one of the greatest joys in my life. I'm so glad I have met people who have encouraged me (especially Bob, my husband) and who told me that I COULD sing! Thanks to you all! Sue vG


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 06:27 PM

I'd like to respond to Barbara Shaw's comments regarding how she sounded "just awful." It's important to remember, or perhaps learn, that your voice sounds entirely different from the "inside" than from the "outside." As your vocal tones are produced, thru the various mechanisms and chambers we all have, it resonates thru your own particuliar nasal passages, sinus cavities, etc. Each of us is different, and our heads, body cavities, sinuses, etc., are different. That's a large part of why we each sound different. What you hear of yourself when you sing is from the "inside." What others hear of you has the added enhancements of those cavities. When you hear yourself, you mostly are hearing your voice thru bone conduction, not the ears. So, you don't sound as bad to others as you sound to yourself. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:06 PM

My first and favorite vocal coach said it thusly:

Anyone can learn to sing *better* than they already do. Not everyone is destined to sing well.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: GUEST,GrammarPolice
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 10:52 PM

"how to use our vocal chords," ~ Alice. The grammar police will chide you over this one, but gently: they're vocal cords
bind up my tongue and vocal chords. JonW too



The GrammarPolice


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Miken
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 11:53 PM

Thanks,Bob , I feel better already! Several years ago when I was singing very little I came across a song that really grabbed me. I worked out a simple guitar bit and since I had a small recorder handy, I taped myself singing it - it sounded terrible. My then wife passed the room and asked who the hell that was on the tape. I said "me" and she said no way was that the same person she'd heard from the kitchen earlier. Granted, it was a poor recording, but I was prepared to believe I really sounded like that. Point is I think I'm far more critical of my musical efforts than others are; maybe my sinuses aren't as bad as all that. Happy New Year to you and Judy, see you Sunday. Looking forward to it.

Mike Nelson


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: KAS
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 05:23 PM

Yes.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Peg
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 05:52 PM

there is a person who comes to the singers' club in Boston sometimes who has the monotone problem described above. This person seems to like traditional music but cannot reprosuce anything resembling a melody...it seems impolite to tell this person they are not welcome, or they'd be better off listening than singing...but how can you tell someone they sound a lot worse than they think they do? I mean, we're not talking poor singing, we're talking noises not the least bit musical...no notes and no rhythm either..what to do? How can you tell someone they just can't sing? Also doing something like that is not that different from leaders of instrumental sessiuns rudely telling some players they can't take part because they're not good enough or don't know enough songs or whatever...


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: Alice
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 08:19 PM

Dear Grammar Police, I know it is vocal cords, not chords. I made a mistake when typing. No one is perfect. Get over it.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: 53
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 10:24 PM

If they try.


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Subject: RE: Can anyone learn to sing
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 04 Feb 02 - 05:42 AM

Peg - that's a really difficult one. It can be squirmingly aweful to listen to someone like that - but I don't think you can tell them they're really bad & shouldn't bother. Neither should you tell them they are good of course. The best you can do really is to try to find something good to focus on, even if its just the choice of song, or the lyrics.
I've only ever heard one person that fell into this catagory, and listening to her made my teeth sweat. But it was at an open-to-everyone singaround, so she was quite welcome to have a go.
Is it OK for people to join in quietly and try to guide her (tactfully)?

Kris


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