Updated: Sep 2
I've been teaching people to sing for a while now (think 5+ years) and in that time, I've worked with a lot of different people. They all improved their voice to some degree, but there are always some people who grow to achieve incredible things. These are the singers who learn to do things with their voice they never expected, perform the songs they never thought they'd actually be able to sing outside of the shower and nail their exams, performances, assessments and whatever else they might be doing.
I know what you might be thinking - 'obviously those people are talented'. But - and I say this with as much love as possible - a lot of them actually weren't. Instead, they learned the techniques, practiced hard and became great singers.
So the question is: if it wasn't talent, then what did all of this people have in common? Well, the good news, is that I can absolutely answer that question. Even better news? These are things that every single one of us can be doing. Which means that every one of us can become an incredible singer, if we just practice these five things.
1. They Listen
Whenever I'm working with a student, I'm keeping one question in mind; how can I help this person get better at singing? If I'm listening to you sing, and I know something that might help you get better, of course I'm going to tell you what it is! The people who listen to this advice are the ones that get really far in the world of singing.
2. They Try Things
It's one thing to listen to advice, and another thing completely to put it into practice. One example is opening the mouth. Some people will find it strange, but try it anyway, and then discover how much better they sound when they open their mouth. Others won't try it because it feels weird, and they'll never know what might have happened if they tried it.
3. They Ask Questions
Just because they're listening to their coach and trying new things doesn't mean that they can't ask questions! There's a lot of terminology when it comes to singing and music theory, and a lot of the techniques are fairly complicated. So to put it simply, if you don't understand something, ask about it.
4. They Practice
Time for some tough love; if you don't practice something you're probably not going to get better at it. I will admit that you can get better at singing even if you only practice in your singing lesson, but let's do some quick Maths here.
Let's just say that I'm working on a technique, and (theoretically speaking) it will take me 5 hours of practice to nail the technique. If I practice for 30 minutes every week in my lesson, it will take me 10 weeks. But if I practiced for my 30 minute lesson every week plus 10 minutes every other day? It will only take me 3 weeks and 3 days. So yes, you can learn just in your lesson, but I guarantee you'll get better faster if you practice. (Also, I'm pretty bad at Maths, to feel free to correct me if needed.)
5. They're Persistent
This is maybe the most important thing - just keep trying! Fun fact: I spent an entire year working on my breathing. An entire year. I didn't do any other techniques in that year, just constant breathing. Of course I could have given up, but if I did that I wouldn't be writing this right now. Instead, I just kept on trying. The result? Breathing is now my favourite technique. So it doesn't matter how long you take to learn something, you will get there eventually.
It really doesn't matter how talented you are, if you keep these five things in mind, you can absolutely become an incredible singer.
If you're interested in learning more about natural talent and it's role in learning to sing, check out this blog post.