How long does it take to learn to sing? Exactly ten months and three days.
If you think that sounds fishy, you are right. Some people are born with very little vocal ability, while others are naturally gifted singers. But everyone, from the most self-conscious shower singers to professionals, can always learn more about singing.
Instead of thinking about how long it might take to learn to sing, think about this: how long does it take to learn to play a sport? Let’s use tennis as an example. There are some people (such as myself) who cannot play tennis at all. There are other people, like Serena Williams, who are incredible tennis players with years of experience. But even Serena Williams has a tennis coach. She is one of the best tennis players in the world, but she is not finished learning.
That goes for singers as well. Even famous opera singers have voice teachers. Singers are constantly learning, especially as the voice changes over time. Doing so allows us to stay sharp and constantly improve our technique.
The Genetic Lottery
I could no doubt eventually learn to play tennis, but it would probably take me a very long time. I have two left feet and no hand-eye coordination. In other words, I am not a gifted tennis player.
Serena Williams, on the other hand, was probably born with amazing natural gifts that she then honed through years of hard work. People probably said “She’s a natural,” even when she was just a child on the tennis court.
Hand-eye coordination doesn’t make great singers, but there are traits that give certain people an advantage. These talents include:
- The ability to match pitch
- A “pretty” or pleasant voice
- A wide vocal range
- A sense of musicality
- A natural ability to use the voice well
People with more of these gifts may be able to sing well and impress audiences even without lessons. However, in order to unlock their true potential, they still need lessons too. Where would Serena be if she hadn’t started taking tennis lessons?
For people who aren’t naturally gifted, there is plenty of hope. Those abilities that you didn’t win in the genetic lottery can be developed with practice. Even those who believe themselves to be tone deaf can often improve vastly with voice lessons.
Learn to Sing at Your Pace
If I started tennis lessons, I wouldn’t expect to go pro in a year. In the same vein, if you have difficulty matching pitch, you probably won’t sound like Whitney Houston in a year. But you can get a lot better, no matter what level you are at now.
You may have figured out at this point that there is no set time for how long it takes to learn to sing, and that’s OK. Among my students, there are singers with beautiful voices, large ranges, and impeccable musicality. There are also people who, despite not having a lot of natural talent, want to learn to sing. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with a little talent and a willingness to learn.
I am proud of all of my students and am impressed time and time again with the results that voice lessons–and a little practice–can achieve. It doesn’t matter whether you are the next Pavarotti or can barely squeak out a few notes. All you need to benefit from voice lessons is an open mind, the diligence to practice, and a love for singing.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!
Photo by Peter aka anemoneprojectors