Working in the role I do, I’m lucky enough to see what really goes on behind the safely closed doors of the singing studio and I love it. I love the trials and tribulations that ultimately culminate in success. I love the face of exhilaration when a singer really nails a song or a lick. I love witnessing the first time someone uses a microphone and I love the positive vibes and the inspirational musicians I am lucky enough to work with!
During 2016, I have witnessed a huge resurgence of students, over 30, who want to learn to sing because they have always wanted to. These aren’t people who “can’t sing” in a modest “Aww, gee, I can’t sing” kind of fashion. These are people who are scared to the bone of even trying- but really want to. People who love music, but don’t know where to begin.
It’s exhilarating working with every single one of them. Namely, their willingness to put in the practice hours and graft to learning something new. The humbling and difficult start, the singing basics: Learning to hear the correct pitch and match it with the sound their voice makes; keeping tempo; and musical memory recall. It takes time, dedication, confidence and real determination to keep trying and trying until accuracy is achieved. And these singers have it in droves!
But this passionate determination made me wonder:
Why have these students not been singing before?
And the answers are heartbreaking:
- “I tried in school but was told I couldn’t sing”
- “I was banned from choir and told I couldn’t sing”
- “My [parent] told me I was no good at singing”
- “My music teacher told me I was tone deaf”
- “I was told to mime because I couldn’t sing”
- “I couldn’t afford lessons and was afraid to try”
Do any of these answers resonate with you?
Notice how almost all of these painful answers were because someone else told them they couldn’t do it? I wonder, why is it when someone else tells us we can’t do something, we doubt ourselves? The saddest part is usually, that they’re in a position of trust and we look up to them.
Therefore, if you’re a teacher: Please take note and never tell someone they cannot sing. It’s humiliating, it’s very damaging, very mean and absolutely definitely untrue.
To make you question what you can or cannot do – check out some of these inspiring stories of singers who were told they could not sing!!!
- Shakira was told she couldn’t join the school choir as her vibrato was too pronounced. Her classmates even told her she sounded like a goat!
- Elvis Presley was told by Jimmy Denny, a Nashville concert manager, the he was better off going back to his old job driving trucks than pursuing a career in singing.
- Lady Gaga was dropped from her first record label after only 3 months.
- John Lennon was reported to be “Certainly not he road to failure” at his school in Liverpool.
- The Spice Girls were rejected by Simon Cowell who said they would never work.
- The Beatles were rejected from a recording company in their early years being told “we don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out”.
- Fred Astaire was described in a note for an MGM screen test “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Bald. Can dance a little.” (he kept that note to remind himself how far her had come.)
- Beethoven was a violinist but spent too much time composing to practice. His teachers felt his musical skill was hopeless, but he ended up writing some of the best loved symphonies of all time.
Other success stories to inspire you:
- Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishers before his first book.
- Einstein was expelled from school.
- Lucille Ball (I love Lucy) was told by her drama instructors to try another profession.
- Marilyn Monroe was told she should consider a secretarial role rather than trying to be a model.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected from the USC school of theatre, film and TV three times.
- Michael Jordan was taken off the high school basket ball team!
- Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star being told “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
In conclusion, if you’re dreaming of learning to sing – go and do it! Find yourself a friendly and qualified voice coach and learn your singing skills accurately from the start.
Don’t let anyone put you down or tell you that you can’t do something. Only you have the power to make that decision. Believe in yourself!
Perseverance, practice, patience and passion are the key to success in everything you do.
Whatever your dreams. Chase them.
Lots of love and wonderful wishes of happiness,