Even if you don’t have a fantastic musical ear, you can learn how to sing in tune. Your voice can be trained and improved with lessons and by practising yourself at home. This applies to your tone, pitch, tuning and the confidence to start in the first place.
Can you learn to sing? Or is it only for those blessed with natural talent and ability? Let’s take a look at the factors that contribute to tuning, as well as how you can get your vocals tuned up and ready to go.
How to sing in tune
One thing every singer does need to be able to do is to sing in tune. If you’re off-key, flat, or sharp, then you won’t sound good, no matter how high – or how low – you can go. With practice and vocal training, you will be able to improve your singing voice. Some of the most well-known artists in the world once considered themselves less than great singers, but have improved over time.
There are some things, namely your physiological makeup, which you can’t change. But singing is a skill and one you can learn. So why do some people appear to learn to sing and sing in tune more easily? What if you think you’re so bad at singing that you’re too nervous to even sing in front of people?
Your voice is an instrument; you just have to learn how to use it, so you can start by learning some easy songs to sing.
What does singing in tune mean?
Singing in tune is about hitting the right notes. You may hear people talking about singers being ‘flat’, ‘sharp’, ‘pitchy’ or ‘off-key’. This means they are not singing the true notes tunefully – they are under or over the notes, or far away from them altogether. If you were to play the notes you’re singing on a tuned instrument, would they sound the same? If not, you’re not in tune.
There are some people who are tone-deaf. This means that they’re unable to hear differences in musical pitch. Often people believe they’re tone-deaf, when in fact they just haven’t had enough musical training yet. If you think this might be you though, you can do a simple tone-deaf test, to identify if this is the case or not.
Can you learn to sing?
Yes, on a basic level, anyone can learn to sing and sound good. Provided you are able to speak and have working vocal cords, you can learn the techniques that enable you to sing. The caveat is that how good you will become, will vary from one person to another (and on how much you practice).
For many, it’s not the technique of singing that’s the issue, but fear of feeling exposed, silly, or somehow not good enough, that stops them having a go. Which is a pity, as we are often much better than we give ourselves credit.
Turn off your critical voice until you’re at a point when you’re wanting to sing professionally, or enter contests and need it to improve (and then it needs to be a subjective voice, not an overly critical harsh one – as that’s of no use in moving forward).
Even if you’re not fussed about becoming a big star, it’s well worth taking up singing on some level. It’s proven to be good for your physical and mental health. Your mind and body will be benefiting along the way as you learn to sing – and it makes for a super fun past time, with lots of social opportunities along the way.
Can anyone learn to sing in tune?
The makeup of your vocal cords is genetic, as is the shape of your nose, mouth and throat. These all affect the way in which sound resonates, as does your overall body shape. How your natural, untrained voice sounds are all down to the “chamber,” which carries the vibrations. This is why some singers who have had cosmetic surgery on the nose, in particular, experience a change in timbre. Lung capacity will affect your power. While there are elements which are genetic, it’s not the be-all and end-all.
Your physical makeup determines the timbre of your voice, and its uniqueness is something to celebrate. A voice that sounds different to others will stand out and offers your own unique selling point. So rather than adjusting it to sound like other artists, develop it to the best of your ability. Harness your own sound and style and make the very most of it, for it is nature’s gift.
Anyone can learn to sing in much the same way as anyone can learn an instrument. Some may have more of an inbuilt aptitude for it and find it effortless and natural. It also depends on what kind of singer you want to be. Perhaps you’ll struggle to ever sing an operatic Aria well, but your husky voice lends itself perfectly to a rock sound. With practice, you can absolutely train your voice and your musical ear.
Often our ability to sing is linked to the confidence we have when we try. Growing up in a musical family is one factor that is heavily linked to “good singers” — just being in an environment where people are unafraid to sing helps. Confidence goes a long way and having the guts to open your mouth and go for it in the first place, sets you on your journey to good singing.
If your family members don’t consider themselves to be singers, have no interest in music and have even told you that you can’t sing, don’t be downhearted. It may be easier for those from musical backgrounds to ease into life as a singer, but it’s absolutely possible for you too. First, you must build your confidence by telling yourself a different story. Know that you can and you will sing.
Whether those around you like singing does not need to be relevant. Use positive thinking to believe in what you can achieve with some hard work – and you might just surprise everyone you know.
The best way to learn to sing in tune
The most beneficial action you can take is to get a vocal coach to help you. Having an expert guide your practice is more effective than developing your voice alone. Hiring a voice coach makes it easier, as they should be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses in order to create a plan to maximise your potential. If you’re new to singing, there’s every chance you won’t know when your tuning is off, or if your technique isn’t ideal. Even famous artists still need regular help from a coach to help with this.
If you can’t afford vocal coaching near you, then getting some coaching over Skype video calls may be more affordable. There are plenty of great exercises you can do at home to develop too.
If you want to learn to sing in harmony, singing in a group or choir is a fantastic way to do it. No amount of practising harmonies on your own will match up to the experience of doing so with others. It’s more of a challenge but is one of the top ways to develop your musical ear and learn about correct tuning.
How long does it take to learn to sing?
It depends on your existing experience and exposure to music. Some singing talent is natural. But there can be much learned unconsciously at a young age, from exposure to musical family members, communities and by listening to artists. The resulting effect this has may be assumed to be ‘natural’, but is in fact early learned technique. It’s arguably both natural and a learned skill.
It takes around six weeks for the muscles involved in correct technique really start to engage. Then around four to six months to really see a noticeable vocal change if you’re a complete beginner. Opera singers must study for many years before they are considered adept. Whereas pop singers can sometimes begin without any training.
How to learn singing without a teacher
Having a vocal coach to guide you and build your confidence is always beneficial. However, if you’d rather learn to sing by yourself – or if hiring a coach isn’t an option – there are plenty of online resources available. Downloadable software and apps that help you learn to sing are super useful and YouTube is an especially good source of instructional videos. Recording yourself can also help as it allows you to be [constructively] critical and set targets for continuous improvement.
You can follow a YouTuber like Dr Dan, who specialises in the topic and has experienced teaching those who are new to it, to sing.
Teaching yourself to sing in tune
If you’re teaching yourself to sing in tune, here are some tips.
- Listen to those who already have good tuning. It may be that you’ve picked up bad habits singing with, or along to others.
- Use proper backing when singing – even for exercises. You can only take on a cappella, once your tuning is sorted.
- Relax your vocal cords. Learn to relax your vocal cords and make sounds rather than trying to make your voice ‘do something’. This way your voice will be more likely to slip into the correct notes.
- Identify your singing range. If you can’t reach a note in the first place, you can’t sing it in tune. When working on tuning, stick within your range.
- Practice scales with a piano or app. Practising using your full range will train and stretch your vocal folds, making the higher and lower notes in your range easier to reach. Make sure it’s about quality, not just quantity though. It’s not good hitting a high note if it sounds screechy. Work on the tone as well as the range.
Sing in tune app
There’s an app for pretty much everything and music is no exception. You may have spotted instrumentalists tuning up using appropriate software. Do the same with your voice. It’s technology’s version of a live singing teacher telling you when you’re off-key or cupping your own ear to repeat the sound back.
Some of these sing in tune apps are great, some not so. And there are new ones constantly coming to the market, so check reviews before downloading one – especially if there’s a cost involved. Google Play and iTunes both have their own review systems for their app stores, making it quick and easy to check out the validity of the software before deciding. Here’s a video guide to some currently on the market.
It’s true that anyone can learn to sing. Perhaps now is the time for you to brush away your previously held beliefs about being untuneful. One of the fantastic things about music is that it’s so accessible for everyone. You don’t have to have any special equipment, a special room, lots of money or even much time. If you are completely unable to hear a pitch, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to sing. Just that you’ll need to work a lot harder on your musicality. And if singing a melody is just too much to manage, but you want to get into music, you can always learn to rap.
- Is it hard to learn to sing?
No pain, no gain. Do you want to sound fantastic? Be prepared to put in time, money and effort and perhaps make some sacrifices. The journey will be one of excitement, satisfaction and achievement though. It might not always be easy, but it will be worth it.
- How do you know if you’re singing in tune?
Your ability to recognise if you’re singing in tune will be affected by your ear for music. Some people are predisposed to tunefulness, others not so much. This isn’t everything, but it may give you a head start and a slight advantage. Otherwise, you’ll be dependent on apps or others to let you know.
- Can you learn to sing at any age?
Yes, we can learn singing at any stage. Age should not be considered a barrier. In fact, your singing voice could even get better with age. However, there is no universal age when a singer’s voice reaches its peak point. Don’t be afraid to get started.
Have you learned how to sing in tune? Do you think you can learn to sing by yourself? Let us know about your musical journey in the comments below and share with your friends.