I cannot imagine my life without music in it. My father loved orchestral music and my mother was an opera fiend. There was always music in our house. Like most kids, I took music lessons: piano lessons for 19 years! And now I take singing lessons. I’ve been a music teacher and a choir director.
Over the course of my life, I’ve been told numerous times by people, “I can’t sing.” Or “Trust me, you don’t want me in your choir.” The people who have believed that they can’t sing have believed that their voice is ugly, that they are tone deaf (whatever that really means), that they cannot carry a tune. How did they get to believe this about themselves? Perhaps some ‘kindly’ teacher or choir director put them in the back row of the singing group and told them to sing quietly. Or maybe they were told to stand in the group and smile and mouth the words without producing any sound. It might be that their singing voice was loud and, perhaps, a bit off key. It might be that the sound was unstable – fluttering and breaking a bit. It might have been that those who believe that they cannot sing worth a damn listened to their friends and judged their own voice as wanting – not as ‘pretty’ a sound. Who knows the reason for the belief. It only matters that it is there – part of their sense of self.
But everyone can sing. If a person can speak, they can sing. Singing is really, as my voice teacher has said, nothing more than controlled yelling. It might be that the singer’s vocal range is limited. It might be that their voice wanders and changes keys as they sing. But they can still sing. But I’d be willing to bet that even those who believe themselves to be lousy singers are shower singers.
To those who hold the belief that they cannot sing, I say the following: if you love melody, if you are moved by the words, if you listen to favourite singers, if you hum while you’re working, if you sing along to the radio, if you sing in the shower, if you sing while being domestic then you ARE a singer. I’d also tell you what another singing teacher said to me, “Don’t listen to yourself”. Just sing. Don’t stop singing. Enjoy your voice and the myriad ways you can use it to express how you feel. When you sing from your heart and spirit (and this is true for classically trained singers as well), it might not always be pretty. BUT it will always be honest and a true reflection of you. So, keep on making a joyful noise.