Am I Too Old to Learn to Sing? A Voice Teacher’s Advice

MO - Am I Too Old to Learn to Sing

There is one question that gets asked above all the rest, one thing that everyone wants to know: can I still learn to sing at 20, 30, 40… and even beyond that?

At 24, is a professional singing career out of reach? Can you get as famous as Lady Gaga, or any other famous singer? For the hobbyists out there, is it even worth taking lessons at 52 years old… if you’ve always self-proclaimed yourself as “tone deaf”? Read on as voice teacher Douglas W. answers the commonly asked question.

Am I Too Old to Learn to Sing?

I’m very happy to tell you that the answer is that you are never too old to learn to sing!

Think about it: you’d never tell someone that they were too old to learn a language, or that it’s too late to get in better shape. We all have to start somewhere, and getting past the mental block of ‘I’m too old to do this’ opens up the door to so many different possibilities for you in life.

too old to sing

The Myths & The Truth

I had a 32-year-old student who constantly feared that she’d never be any good due to starting so late. We’d been working hard, and as I was packing up my stuff to leave, I started absentmindedly humming part of a song we’d been working on.

She was listening, picked up the tune, and absolutely slayed a part that had been giving her trouble for weeks! In that moment, the burden of years dropped away, and she was simply a person feeling the utmost joy in her musical agency. That’s the kind of thing that taking voice lessons can give you, at any age.

It’s a flat-out myth that you either ‘have it or you don’t,’ or can only do it if you start out young. While you certainly have more time to develop if you start out early, and some people are born with natural gifts that make it easy for them, dedication and hard work are what take you where you want to go.

Now, here come the excuses…

too old to sing

“I already took lessons and didn’t get much out of them, what’ll be different this time?

While I believe every student should absolutely set their sights high, we do have to be realistic about what our voices can and can’t do.

I can’t hit the same notes as someone like Mariah Carey, but I’ve definitely improved my comfortable singing range in both directions, and can absolutely help you do the same. Starting with a good, solid foundation can help you manage your expectations, so you can enjoy your successes more, small as they may seem!

I know that personally, when I started out at 17, I didn’t see results as fast as I thought I would, and I got frustrated because of it. I made things much harder for myself by not enjoying the process of learning and being overcritical of myself.

But this is what teachers are great for! Learning in a vacuum is difficult, but having someone there to encourage you, keep you on track, and hold you accountable will help ensure you’re progressing as fast as you can, and, most importantly, taking joy in each step of the way. Singing is not a competition or a race; it’s about developing your tools to express exactly what you feel in your heart in a way that can be heard in your voice.

too old to sing

“I don’t sound like Bruno Mars (or whoever your favorite singer is), who says I can now?”

The beautiful thing about singing is that everyone has their own voice. You don’t sound exactly like me, and vice versa. This seems like an obvious point, but it’s something to think about. Some of us get into music chasing our idols without remembering that we have our own unique stories and feelings. You might need help bringing out your voice, and that’s alright! That’s what a great instructor will help you do.

too old to sing

“It’s definitely too late to be noticed for my singing, isn’t it?”

This is patently false. Hard work will trump ‘natural talent’ any day of the week, for any age who might think to try! Bill Withers, he of ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ fame, didn’t release his first album until he was 34 years old! Sheryl Crow didn’t release her debut album until she was 31, and many other singers have struggled before becoming famous.

The point is, if you have music in your spirit that needs to get out, it doesn’t matter how old you are. What you put into it will truly be what you get out of it. Enjoy the process of learning and creating, and you never truly lose.

Even if you don’t aspire to be famous, there are plenty of goals you can work toward. Some great ones to start out with are:

  1. Extending your range a bit
  2. Being more comfortable singing in front of other people
  3. Nailing your favorite song to sing along to
  4. Joining a choir
  5. Strengthening a specific part of your voice (e.g. head voice, mix voice)

too old to sing

It is never too late to better yourself or learn something new. Learning to sing is a great way to do that.

For a long time, the idea that I couldn’t learn as an adult kept me from trying things. If you’re at all interested in learning anything, be it singing, an instrument, or a language, I implore you to give it a try! There are so many amazing teachers here that the only limit to how far you can go will be your desire to learn.

And in every little success, every hurdle overcome, you’re working toward a passion you can enjoy your whole life, no matter when you start.

Readers, are you worried you’re too old to learn to sing? Leave a comment below and share your story with others!

DouglasPost Author: Douglas W.
Douglas W. teaches singing, guitar, and music theory in Cleveland, OH, as well as online. Learn more about Douglas here!

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33 replies
  1. ann keene
    ann keene says:

    I would love to learn how to sing, i have wanted to do this for many years im now 59 and i feel i may be too late to learn what do you think i should do .

    Reply
    • Suzy S.
      Suzy S. says:

      It’s not too late at all! Many of our teachers work with adults your age. We’ll be happy to help you find the best teacher in you area – give us a call at 877-231-8505!

      Reply
    • Kelli
      Kelli says:

      I’m 59 as well and have just retired! I’ve sung in church choir before but have always dreamed of just becoming comfortable singing in front of people and controlling the nerves that come out in my voice. Feeling like it’s too late now though.

      Reply
      • Marchell
        Marchell says:

        it really not to late I am 51 years old and I am going to give it a try love sing I like to sing in church so I am so scardof singing in front of people so I am going to give voice lesssons and sing a try and you should to it want hurt to try

        Reply
    • Suzy S.
      Suzy S. says:

      Hi Emmanuel! A voice teacher can definitely help you get started! We can connect you with local or online teachers – would you like me to have someone contact you?

      Reply
  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    Always regarding myself as non-musical and a non-singer, I recently decided to learn the guitar. It’s happening, but very slowly, of course. Nevertheless, I enjoy it. But now I have to find a voice to go with it. That is proving to be even harder. I can sing along crudely with the notes if I pick them, but chords throw me completely.

    Reply
  3. Beth
    Beth says:

    What a great article ! I’m 55 and have enjoyed singing in a choir for a few years. Recently, due to a few months gap from Choir whilst we waited for a new director, I decided to have a couple of singing lessons. wow ! Such great fun, and despite my terror at singing solo, I love it. I find myself wishing I had done more with music at an earlier age. My voice is pretty mediocre, but I don’t care. Now I just need to work on performance anxiety whilst improving my technique. It’s such a wonderful antidote to daily life and problems. Singing should be on the school curriculum !

    Reply
  4. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    I love to sing and feel so much more alive when I do. But I dont know if its really worth taking lessons because Im 58! And I love singing the 50’s like laverne baker etta james and elvis. I wonder if the teachers can teach this kind of singing.
    Maureen

    Reply
    • Jessica Dais
      Jessica Dais says:

      Hi Maureen! We most definitely have teachers who specialize in those genres. Feel free to browse through a list of our singing teachers here. Each of our teachers have profiles listing their experience and background, so you’re sure to find one who is a good fit for your musical style. It’s never too late to take lessons to grow and strengthen your vocal skills. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Vivek
    Vivek says:

    I’m 23 and I’m very keen to become a singer. Before i used to sing well but since last 1 year i’m feeling the downfall in my singing abilities and i’m quite anxious about it. So I’m very eager to know whether i can become a singer if I begin now ???? Please answer …

    Reply
  6. Bernie Jessome
    Bernie Jessome says:

    I have been a singer all of my life. I still perform on stage at 75 and have no notion of stopping. Listening to Andrea Boceli and Pavarotti I get immediate goose bumps and love to sing along. My tenor voice is still strong but yes at this age I could still use lessons. My goal is to perform with a 3 tenors group in Canada or the U.S. Can you offer m some suggdtions

    Reply
  7. Laura Clifton
    Laura Clifton says:

    I really enjoyed Douglas post and all your replies. Given hope. At 47 I have to at least let myself try… whether it’s a delusion or not. Some part of me wants to be set free… Let’s see if I can commit to what’s needed. Good luck all.

    Reply
  8. Linda Gyamfi
    Linda Gyamfi says:

    Awww this was a question I had in my heart but I was shy to put it out there. Thank you so much for the encouragement. x

    Reply
  9. martin
    martin says:

    Actually, I am 37 and I have always wanted to sing. I only sing in the bathroom but not always.I want to learn as a beginner.what can I do.

    Reply
    • Jessica Dais
      Jessica Dais says:

      Hi Martin! Many of our vocal instructors work with beginners of all ages. Give us a call today and we’ll help you find a teacher in your area, or online, who has experience working with adult singers! 877.231.8505

      Reply
  10. Tony
    Tony says:

    I have learnt to play the basic chords of a guitar. But a guitar is an accompanying instrument, and 79yoa I must be well past it, Too late, and I used to be a chorister.

    Reply
  11. Sammy
    Sammy says:

    Hello Douglas
    Ever since childhoodI was told I should sing professionally -until now. I thought I was being flattered because of my good looks, until I was told by a professional singer that I have a very flexible range & a warm, inviting voice. At 62, I need your advice. I never smoked. Always sang at home & I only drink little socially. I can send you a recording.

    Reply
  12. Madhu Saran
    Madhu Saran says:

    Thank you so much is what I wanna say. Ur article has really helped me get a new perspective on things! Thanks again.

    Reply
  13. Shreya
    Shreya says:

    I’m 13(almost 14) and people say that your vocal chords won’t support you after 11 or 12 and that you have to start at a very young age…I’ve been in the school choir since I was 11thou..but still I’m not so confident about taking professional lessons. What do I do?

    Reply
  14. Marchell
    Marchell says:

    My name is Marchell mitchell and I am special need I love to sing I use to sing in the church choir a nd sing solo in church now I don’t Ian know good with sing I want to take voice lessons so I am look for a special need teacher who can teach me voice lesssons and sing I am 51 years old can please help please reply back marchell

    Reply
    • Jessica Dais
      Jessica Dais says:

      Hi Marchell! At TakeLessons we have lots of singing teachers who work with special needs adults. To get started finding a special needs teacher near you, or online, give our team a call at 877.231.8505. Hope to hear from you soon 🙂

      Reply
  15. Joy Butler
    Joy Butler says:

    Hi Suzy, I have the same question in mind actually. And I am so happy when you said that we’re never too old to learn to sing! No worries as I will surely take time looking for a voice lesson and enroll myself. Thanks for this encouragement, cheers!

    Reply
  16. Bharadwaj
    Bharadwaj says:

    Hi! I am 22 and Iam a guitarist, I always like to play guitar with my own voice But Iam feeling difficulty to do that. so now can i start learn singing . Is it possible to possible to openup my voice? Please help me to get good trainer in bangalore India or any where

    Reply
    • Jessica Dais
      Jessica Dais says:

      Hi Bharadwaj! You should check out the free singing classes at TakeLessons Live. These are online classes led by live instructors. They’re currently only offered in US time zones but you can still access them in your country by visiting the link on your web browser. Let me know if that helps 🙂 -Jess from TakeLessons

      Reply
  17. Deb
    Deb says:

    When I was a child in elementary school, I was in music class, when my teacher separated all of us kids into groups of different voice tones..Well, being so young, and being put with the boys, due to having a deeper voice, I told her to forget it, I didn’t want to be grouped with the boys. I will never forget that teacher shedding a tear ever time she saw me, begging me to change my mind, and told me that one day I could be on the biggest stage in America, because she noticed something in my voice that nobody else did. I told her no. That was the biggest regret in my life, because her face still haunts me to this day. It has haunted me since the day I said no. I feel as though there is something inside of me that needs to come out, in song, and I have felt that for so many years now, and I find myself crying because I didn’t take that opportunity to do what she knew best. I am now 57 years old, and sit here so emotional all the time, because as I said, I feel as though there is something in a song that needs to be sung, and I can’t get it out. I regret that moment for the rest of my life. If I was given that one last chance, I would never say no again. I was in church once, and the minister told me that he saw a light around me that is expressing a song that needs to be spoken. I never shared this story with him, and I walked away so depressed, because of fear of failure. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but I would love to be given an opportunity to learn how to sing, and maybe that song will be heard. Thank you.

    Reply

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