Professional singing for everyone?

When I started at the music school as a singing teacher a long time ago, I noticed that many of the students started their first lesson by saying, ‘I would like singing lessons because I can’t sing at all.’ As if they were at a doctor’s office confessing to a handicap. In those days I also taught piano lessons and it never happened that someone started his first lesson by saying he had a problem because he couldn’t play the piano. Not being able to play the piano is apparently more normal than not being able to sing.

Of course, that ‘not being able to sing’ was always not so bad. Singing is like walking: if you have two functioning legs then you will move forward. In other words, anyone with a normally functioning voice can sing. Most people, when they say they cannot sing, actually mean that they cannot sing as beautifully as they would like to. That too is usually not so bad! Still, a number of times I failed to teach students with a good voice to sing in tune and unfortunately had to advise them to choose another hobby. Fortunately this happened only twice in 30 years of teaching and in both cases to singers who I would call tone deaf. They could not sing in tune at all even after long practice and did not hear this themselves. In such a case taking piano lessons is much more satisfying!

The mean thing about singing is that the better you sing the easier it seems. While almost everyone understands that virtuoso pianists or guitarists have spent many hours practicing, good singers are often assumed to be born that way.

I notice that even professional instrumentalists often still believe in this myth, too bad! Eight years ago my book ‘Professioneel Zingen voor Iedereen’ (Professional Singing for Everyone) was published. Believe me, that title took an awful lot of thought. I spent countless emails on it and bothered colleagues, friends and family with proposals and polls. Despite this extensive search, the title raised many questions after the publication of the book. Is it really true that anyone can sing, and even professionally? After the foregoing you may already have guessed my answer: Yes, everyone can sing: by singing regularly and practicing you will automatically get better at it and your voice will develop. And when you do this with dedication and skill (or professionally) you can sing with even more ease and pleasure!

Column ZING Magazine – © Ineke van Doorn – 4 December 2017