Before you begin learning how to sing, you’ll need to find a teacher and schedule your voice lessons! But how often should you really be meeting with your instructor? Find out how to determine your needs & create your perfect schedule, with these recommendations from Forest Hills, NY and online teacher Claire W.:
Working your way toward learning how to sing means gaining control of your voice and refining your ability to express yourself with song. It can be a challenging task, but as the saying goes, “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.” Depending on your personal goals, learning how to sing can be a very long-term project. Because there are so many aspects to the skill, the frequency of your lessons depends on the goal you want to work toward and how fast. Keep in mind though, that developing the ability to sing on key and with control of your voice and breathing for a range of genres requires a bit of muscle and memory training.
Any kind of music – especially the type that uses your very own body as an instrument – is extremely cerebral, and requires you to manage and control many different variables at once. But you can do it, and if you ever doubt yourself and think “I’m tone-deaf! This is impossible?!”, do keep in mind that tone-deafness is actually a recessive trait in humans, so your chances of actually being tone-deaf are low. This article will discuss the suggested frequency of your training per (1) type of training and (2) level of musical proficiency so that you can learn how to sing.
Beginner to Intermediate Level
If you are a beginner at music, the first and foremost highest leverage thing for you to do when learning how to sing is to invest a lot of time in recognizing and copying the production of sounds from another instrument and identifying their names and tonal values. For example, as a helpful exercise your teacher might: (1) play a note for you, (2) tell you what its numeric or syllabic value is, and (3) give you feedback when you try to produce the exact sound with the number or syllable. You can benefit immensely from having ear training lessons once or twice a week, in addition to or in combination with a weekly voice lesson. Later on, more advanced ear training has you identify and reproduce the relationships between two tones or three tones in intervals, broken chords, or scales.
Have patience with yourself, and expect the first few tries to be rocky, but don’t give up! Remember you are literally training the synapses of neurons to form for sound recognition and reproduction. Because of this, frequent repetition of this training is highly recommended for all levels. Ear training is the first step in becoming a strong singer of any genre or style, and is something that all musicians and singers practice—even when they are at a professional level. I would suggest 60 minutes of ear training once a week until recognizing and reproducing tones or simple intervals becomes natural and automatic.
Intermediate to Professional Level
If you are at an intermediate level of musical proficiency, learning how to sing will be much easier, because you’ve probably done a lot of ear training already. Now it’s time to populate your understanding of song with a lot of data. By data, I mean practicing songs from different genres and refining your understanding of your pitch range, sweet spots, and breaks in your voice. Once you are at an intermediate level, most students can move from ear training to focusing all on singing during your weekly lessons. One lesson a week however, does not excuse you from practicing for at least 30 minutes every day! When you practice on your own, you’ll be able to figure out how identify the little basic things in a voice that make an audience feel a certain way. The length of your lessons will depend on a few different factors.
Eventually, you’ll have gotten so much feedback, practiced so many songs, and listened to so many genres that you’ll be singing at a professional level. Huzzah! I can’t wait to see singing stars popping up and talking about this article being their inspiration to become singing stars. Keep in mind that even professionals still work with vocal coaches to continue improving – even it’s just once a month or so.
In closing, learning how to sing is like learning how to read, write, or speak. At a certain point, you’re just expanding your grasp of the expressive ‘vocabulary’ (e.g. a crescendo, diminuendo, or a trill) and eventually, you get to the point of familiarity that you start creating new vocal conventions and styles of your own, whether you’re drawing inspiration from Beyoncé or Pavarotti. Always go through cycles of practice and rest, otherwise you can tire out your voice. Even Beyoncé has to do this! Grit through the beginner phase and you’ll be singing like a star in no time. Remember, everybody’s voice ends up being beautiful in the right context and there are so many genres to be appreciated, so never give up, find your sound, and keep on right on singing.
Claire W. teaches music and tutors in Forest Hills, NY, as well as online. As a recent graduate of Columbia University, she majored in Applied Statistics and Psychology, and earned her Texas State Teachers Certification in 2014. Learn more about Claire here!
Photo by michael_swan