When you first start learning any other instrument, what do people say?
A guitar player doesn’t pick up his instrument for the first time and start shredding.
A Trumpet player doesn’t pick up his instrument and start blasting an A above high C.
They start at the bottom, struggling to even play Mary Had A Little Lamb. People don’t tell them they can’t play and they should stop. They say “don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. No one is GREAT right away.”
Why do people decide whether you can sing or not from the moment you open your mouth? Instead of saying, “you’ll get better with practice”?
Looking at the history of voice, you’ll find one common term that plagues it. This term is “Natural Talent”! Anyone, who has attempted to sing has been at the mercy of this term. Many teachers have spread this disease ridden term to their students and in turn to the general public. Today, natural talent” has become a common household phrase.
You either have the talent or you don’t.
I’m not saying I don’t believe in natural talent. Natural talent is a real thing, but I don’t believe in how it is commonly viewed. Natural talent is commonly viewed as a limiter, meaning your voice has certain limits different from other people’s and you can’t change it. You’re going to have a different range and a different tone than other people because you were born with it.
This is not true.
The human voice has certain limits, but they are not different from person to person. Your voice can do anything that anyone else’s can. You might have a different starting note, but anyone can have a 4 octave range or higher. Anyone can learn to add grit to their voice or other textures. Anyone can develop their own sound! Natural talent is not an end point or limiter.
Natural talent is a starting point. Everyone starts with a certain level of ability. Some people are exposed to more music and sing more often than others. As a result, they’ve already developed some singing ability, whether they realize it or not.
Viewing natural talent as a limiter is dangerous to your abilities as a singer. It encourages mediocrity. Teachers spread it to their students. Family members spread it to other family members. It gives people an excuse to stop learning proper control over their vocal instrument! Bowing down to natural talent is another way of giving up. I’ve even met college graduates who studied voice and are teaching others who can’t get into their head voice. Let alone do anything else with their voice. It’s disheartening.
Still don’t believe me? Look at it in another light.
Natural Talent Broken Down!
Some people are probably thinking right now: Some people just don’t sound good. Their tone is terrible. People are born with their vocal instrument, they can’t change the way it sounds! Bad singers just can’t and shouldn’t sing!
This is a very common thought process. It is in fact, the general basis for deciding if someone has the “natural talent” to sing or not.
SO TIME TO PROVE IT WRONG!
First, let’s address the ridiculous part of this statement. They’re born with that voice? I didn’t come out of my mother’s womb with the ability to talk, let alone sing. I learned how to talk overtime you did as well! Ask yourself, how children learn to talk?
They learn to talk by observing external sources. They observe their parents, older siblings, cousins, even people on television. Any source you come into contact with as a child, might influence the sound of your voice.
As children, we pick up on external sources and mold them together to create our speaking voice. If you have a nasally voice, chances are when you were younger, someone around you or with influence over you had a nasally voice. Your brain heard this and decided this was the proper way to speak. As a result you developed a similar sound. How do you think accents were formed?
Your voice is shaped and formed by external sources as you grow up. The same goes for your singing voice.
That’s why parents who can sing tend to have kids who can sing. It’s not that the singing ability is genetic. Babies just tend to be around their parent’s the most. If their parents talk in a way that allows them to have a decent tone when they sing, the child, more often than not, will have a better singing voice. If that parent studied voice, their children will have an even stronger natural talent for singing.
Another common source, is other singers. If you tried to emulate singers when you were younger, you subconsciously picked up on a lot of little things that helped develop your “Natural Talent”.
Did you know exactly what they’re doing? No, but in learning to emulate their sound, you unconsciously manipulated your voice, developing your talent along the way.
I did this a lot when I was younger
I was a little kid in the 90′s, so I picked up that dark covered sound a lot of male singers in the 90′s used. Pearl Jam, Creed, Fuel, Collective Soul, Seven Mary Three…the list goes on and on. Since I heard/emulated that sound so often, it became the sound I connected with quality singing.
This led me to naturally develop that sound in my singing voice. I also picked up how to add air to my voice at the end of my phrases and learned how use vibrato by goofing around singing the opera version of Oh Holy Night. Of course, I wasn’t aware of this at the time, it just happened because of my exposure to that music.
If someone you know sounds like a particular singer, chances are they did the same thing.
Does my voice still sound like it did when I emulated 90′s singers as a child? No, because I’ve studied voice with many great teachers and learned to control, manipulate and develop the sound, I actually wanted!
This doesn’t happen by magic people!
The voice is made of many muscles and internal movements that flow together in harmony to present a sound. Learning to control this “Vocal System” is what will give you the voice and the sound you desire! Your tone, is part of this system.
If you’re a nasally singer, then you’re singing partially or completely out of your nasal track.
Sometimes this is a desired sound. Many singers such as Miles Davis, Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder, Scott Stapp, Myles Kennedy and others make use of this sound. That sound itself is one aspect of the dark sound I was talking about earlier in this article that is used often in 90′s rock.
The slang term floating around for this is gnarlers. As funny as that sounds.
This is just one example, I could rattle off a whole list but this isn’t the point here. My point is to make you understand that, depending on how you manipulate your vocal system, the sound that comes out of your mouth is going to be different!
Not only that, but when you develop your knowledge and train your voice in a healthy way, your voices tone will just get richer. You can grow you voice to any level you desire!
Natural Talent is a Starting point, not an ending point. Anyone can learn to sing well, it just takes practice. Finding a teacher who can teach you how to control all these elements and help you develop the physical awareness of your vocal instrument, is also very important.
Just because someone can emulate certain singers or hit certain notes, does not mean they are able to do it safely. Unless you train your voice and learn, you will have no real idea of how to use you voice properly. In most cases, naturally talented singers (with no training) end up hurting themselves, causing severe damage to their voice.
I’ll save this topic for another article as I mainly wanted to address the “Natural talent” term in this piece.
Do yourself a favor and get a good voice teacher who knows what they’re doing and can help you get beyond “Natural Talent”.
So to answer the question of this article. Do you have the Natural Talent to Sing? Yes, yes you do.
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Article Added on Sunday, September 7, 2014
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