So You Want To Be Able To Sing?

But, somebody has told you that you sound like a frog with a cold, crows cover their ears when you hum and people offer you money to stop. Your confidence has been shattered and you are now less than enthusiastic about becoming a star. In fact you have decided that you will never open your mouth to sing in public again, possibly even in private also. Or maybe it’s not that drastic, maybe you just don’t like the sound of your own voice when you sing, or perhaps it’s just that you know something is not quite right, or even that you think it sounds okay, but you would like it to sound better.

Singing is an innate part of the human experience, we all love to sing, it’s one of the greatest forms of self entertainment. Most children will start to make rhythmic sounds from a very early age, but somewhere along the way some of these children lose confidence in their ability to sing at all, never mind sing well. I was one of those children. By the time I was twelve I was convinced that I could not sing. It wasn’t something that was going to shatter my world, but it was something I would have liked to do well. Regardless, I accepted that singing was something I would never be able to do at all.

It seemed there was something wrong with my brain. Actually there was something wrong with my intonation. That means that the representation of the sound of the notes in my head, were not in line with how the note should actually sound. In other words, if I sang a C, inside my head it sounded fine to me, but on the outside it might actually be C# or a B. Like the old fashioned telephone systems where the operators manually connected the callers together by plugging cables into call boards, the notation system in my brain connected all the wrong plugs together. So when I tried to sing, I would sing some of the notes correctly, but every few bars I would get one note wrong which would cause the following notes to spiral out of control or more correctly out of tune, throwing the whole song off key. Some people have good intonation and just sound melodic when they sing. Some people have worse intonation than others and so sound more out of tune, but a small number of people have ‘perfect pitch’, which means that they can recognize the sound of a note like they are reading a letter of the alphabet, but they are far and few between. What I did not know at that time was that my bad intonation could have been fixed.

To make up for my lack of singing ability, I took up playing the guitar and over the years I played with various bands on and off. I could always rely on my electronically tuned guitar to give me the correct pitch when I needed it, but I never sang. Eventually, like most musicians I got married, had kids and stopped playing in bands. And again, like many musicians, when the kids grew up, I found myself playing in a cover band with older dads, just like myself, who enjoyed playing for the fun of it. But something amazing had happened; I now found that I could sing some songs in tune, not perfectly, but so much better than I had ever been able to do before. Amazing! All those years of playing in tune with other musicians had helped to subconsciously re-wire my intonation system. It wasn’t perfect pitch but it was so much better than it was when I was younger. It had happened without me working at it or even thinking about it. What I know now is that with the correct instruction, many singing issues can be fixed.

I spent my teens in the 70’s, pre internet; there wasn’t the plethora of information available that there is now. In the last few years many talented singing teachers have been making singing courses available online so they can reach a wider audience and the quality just keeps getting better and better. The opportunities to improve your voice skills in almost every category are endless. Maybe you want to sing like Kelly Clarkson or Thom York, or maybe you just want to improve your singing ability to sing for your own entertainment. But one thing is for sure, with a little guidance, you can learn to sing, you can teach yourself to sing and you can sing in tune.

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