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If someone can sing well, it must be because they’re naturally gifted, right?
The truth of the matter is that there’s more to singing well than you might think, and talent alone will not determine how far you make it as a vocalist.
So, in this guide, we’ll explore whether singing is a talent or a skill.
Singing Is More Of A Learned Skill Than A Natural Talent
What studies show is that singing is ultimately more of a learned skill than a natural talent.
People often assume it’s something you either have or you don’t, but in the long run, it depends a lot more on how much time and effort you put into developing and maintaining your voice than it does on your natural abilities as a singer.
Does this mean that all singers start their journeys with no talent?
Not at all. Whether it’s Mariah Carey, Elton John, or Barbra Streisand, there are plenty of well-known singers who showed early promise.
It’s not that talent isn’t a factor. But when it comes to your voice, you either use it or you lose it. Those who practice and maintain good vocal health are the ones that continually improve and earn opportunities over the long haul.
Why Does It Seem Like Others Are So Much Better Than Me At Singing?
If you’re starting from scratch and comparing yourself to a nine-year-old girl who can belt it out like Mariah Carey, it’s easy to feel like your lack of talent must be what’s holding you back.
But your vocals are an instrument. And as with any instrument, it takes time, patience, and practice to get better at your craft.
Talk to any musician, and you will discover that 10 years of experience barely gets you to the point of feeling adept on your instrument.
In my early days as a singer, I had a very bad habit of singing from my throat and straining to reach higher notes.
Although I probably would have improved carrying on like that, there’s a good chance I also would have calloused and / or damaged my vocal cords long term.
There are, in fact, plenty of pro singers who never learned proper technique, and as result, damaged their voice. This doesn’t necessarily mean they ruined their professional careers, mind you.
Either way, singing is the movement of air. It’s like breathing. The more air you can move, the more clearly and dynamically you can belt out a tune. A lot of singing, in fact, is breath work.
I learned the importance of singing from my diaphragm relatively early on in my career. But it still took me several years of singing to even understand what that meant or how it was supposed to feel!
I can’t tell you how long it might take you to get to the point where you can sing at the level you want to sing.
What I can tell you is that many people start out with bad habits that need to be corrected before they can even find their authentic voice.
Once you’ve sorted that out, you can begin working on exercises, technique, pitch, enunciation, rhythm, and more.
Over time, singing will come more naturally. Your muscle memory will start to kick in.
How Can I Improve As A Singer?
To improve as a singer, we need to accept that there might be a long journey ahead.
The less you know, the faster you’re likely to improve. The learning curve is very shallow early on.
The more you know, and the more experienced you are, the more effort it’s going to take to improve.
But regardless of your experience level, if you put in the time and effort, and you’re consistent with the process, you should be able to reach new plateaus.
The main way to improve as a singer, of course, is to engage in a consistent practice schedule.
You can over-sing, and while tolerance varies a bit from person to person, when you’re first getting started, you don’t want to overdo it. You’re better off gradually building up your voice to a point where you feel comfortable taking on more.
Singers who go out on the road and tour ruthlessly generally have a strict regimen when it comes to maintaining their vocal health, whether it’s avoiding dairy, drinking more water and tea, and even speaking as little as possible the day of a performance.
But to practice well, you need access to the right information, which is where a course like 30 Day Singer comes in especially handy.
30 Day Singer will walk you through the basics at a manageable pace, while setting you up to achieve real results in 30 days or less.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a master at singing in 30 days, but it does mean you’ll have built your confidence and technique to a point where you’ll feel like you can keep progressing as a singer.
You can see my 30 Day Singer review here.
Is It Really Possible To Improve As A Singer?
Obviously, your skepticism is warranted.
It’s possible you’ve tried practicing on your own, checked out a few YouTube videos, maybe got a lesson or two from a local coach and didn’t feel like you got anywhere.
But as I said earlier, learning to sing is a long-term prospect. The pros make it look easy, but they also have years, probably decades of experience behind them that you don’t have yet.
When I first started singing, I was singing from my throat instead of my diaphragm and straining to reach higher notes. Even some of my friends, who weren’t necessarily experienced singers, pointed this out to me!
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do about it, I just knew that “straining” wasn’t good and it meant that I was a failure as a singer.
It was discouraging, but I didn’t give up. I went ahead and released my first solo album, and it turned out alright. I got some criticism for my unskilled vocals, but so what?
The crazy part is that within two to three years, my voice transformed. My family, friends, fans, and bandmates all noticed. They were all convinced that my next album would be different.
Sure enough, my vocals on the releases that followed were considerably smoother, less pitchy, and more expressive.
I have also sung backing vocals for perfectionist band leaders. Do you think they would have let me sing with them if I couldn’t pull it off? No way!
Categorically I am not the best singer in the world. But I have accomplished so much more than I initially deemed possible.
Yes, you can improve as a singer, assuming you are self-aware. It might not be on your timeframe let alone anyone else’s. But if you’re patient, and you keep putting in the hours, you’re going to become a better singer, no doubt! Again, please avoid over-practicing though.
And that’s why it’s so important to have a structured singing course like 30 Day Singer to guide you. If you know what to work on, you can get to where you want to go faster.
I Don’t Like My Voice – What Do I Do?
I honestly haven’t met too many people who say they love the sound of their voice, especially the recorded sound of their voice.
What's important to realize is that the way you hear your voice day to day is going to be different than how you hear it recorded through a microphone.
Think of it this way. Your mouth is positioned “between” your ears. So, normally, you’re hearing your voice indirectly, as it reflects off your surroundings. But when you listen to the recorded sound of your voice, it’s reaching your ears in a more direct manner. No wonder there’s such a big difference!
Can you get used to it? Absolutely.
As a podcaster and as a singer I’ve had to listen to my voice for countless hours. Eventually, as I kept listening to my voice, I got over it.
I get that you might wince and cringe listening to yourself sing (i.e., on a recording), especially if you’re just getting started. At first, the pitchiness can really take a toll on your self-confidence. But if you give up then, you’ll never tap into your full potential.
Although you may not be able to transform your voice into someone else’s (it is, after all, one of your unique imprints), with practice and patience you can take control of your voice and tap into its many colors.
Can I Become A Professional Singer Even If I Have Little To No Talent?
There are plenty of singers out there who aren’t, in fact, singers.
For instance, I call myself a “guitarist who sings,” not a singer.
What’s the difference? Well, a singer is someone who dedicates themselves to the craft of singing. They work on the finer aspects of their performance, expression, and showmanship.
Which of course means working diligently on breath work, exercises, technique, pitch, enunciation, rhythm, and so forth.
For me, if I can get a melody across with a few minor flourishes, I’m happy. I know my limitations and don’t feel the need to force something I can’t do. I practice singing songs, but I don’t do my breathwork or exercises all the time.
Nevertheless, I can and have played many solo gigs to applause and praise.
There are plenty of musicians who sing, who may not necessarily consider their vocals their main instrument. Because it’s a different discipline altogether.
Even pros as far reaching as Fergie, Hilary Duff, Adam Levine, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Rihanna, and Britney Spears either aren’t considered that talented, or have certain limitations they’ve never overcome.
Some of these could be considered actors or actresses who sing, personalities who sing, dancers who sing, etc. Mind you, even if they aren’t exactly talented singers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have other talents.
Either way, carrying a tune is a minimum every amateur should aspire to, but you don’t need to be a world-renowned vocalist to have a great career in music.
Wait – Are You Saying You Don’t Need To Be A Singer To Have A Career In Singing?
Strange as it may sound, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Look, if you want to have a career in singing, obviously you’re going to have to work on your vocals. It’s not like you’re going to be able to walk on stage and “wing it.”
The point is – marketability trumps talent in today’s music industry. To be honest, it’s probably always been that way, to lesser or greater degrees.
Even Paris Hilton tried her hand at a music career. “She can do whatever she wants,” you may say, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But it was obvious from the outset that she wasn’t exactly pro singer material.
You may argue that Paris Hilton was a flash in the pan, and again you wouldn’t be wrong, but it doesn’t explain the longevity of someone like Britney Spears, rocky though her career path has been.
None of this is said in a judgmental manner. But if the popularity of music was based strictly on skill, the top 40 charts would look very different indeed. You might see a band like Dream Theater or DragonForce topping the charts instead of Jack Harlow or Harry Styles.
The best thing you can do for your singing career is to develop your voice, your image, and if possible, your own signature sound.
Is Singing A Talent Or A Skill? Final Thoughts
So, is singing a talent or a skill?
No doubt, there are talented singers out there. But the truth is, even they had to work at it – if nothing else – to maintain their voice. If they did not put time and effort into singing, via singing lessons and online training like 30 Day Singer, they would not have the careers they have today.
If you are starting with little to no talent, becoming a skilled vocalist could be a longer road. But talent or no talent, singing is going to require work. So long as you’re willing to learn and to work at it, you can become a better singer and even enjoy a career in music.
Talent isn’t everything. Anyone can learn the skills necessary to become a better singer than they are today.