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Thread: The "I can't sing" people!

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    The "I can't sing" people!

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    If you have never heard of "breath support" or never tried to apply breath support in singing, then you simply don't know whether or not you "can sing". You basically have never tried.

    Breath support is so fundamental to singing, it can totally flip your assessment of whether or not you "can sing"

    Learning breath support takes research, and a bit of time (as it requires isolating and beefing up of certain muscles you may not be used to using).

    I wonder if there are quite a few musicians, here, who actually have a big advantage, given their musical background, but who believe that they cannot sing simply because it is not "happening" automatically.

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    I think there's an intuitive nature to singing that allows some folks to get moderately good without any real theory. If you're a "naturally good" singer with no training, you probably already have ok breath support.

    That said, yes, breathing is absolutely fundamental to singing well. Not knowing how to breathe well and not knowing that you don't know how to breath well will severely limit your growth as a vocalist.

    Once you get "sing from your diaphragm" and "if something hurts, stop doing it" down, you've got 90% of the most important theory down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VomitHatSteve View Post
    I think there's an intuitive nature to singing that allows some folks to get moderately good without any real theory. If you're a "naturally good" singer with no training, you probably already have ok breath support.
    Supposedly, we are pretty much all born breathing correctly for singing, breathing from the diaphragm. Most of us exercise that ability as children as we play, compete and shout -- some children ..... more than others ..... Then we generally get to being less noisy and may lose touch with exercising the necessary muscles.

    Environment is important. I know people who are public speakers who have naturally picked up diaphragmatic breathing again. If you go past a noisy building site, you may hear builders who have done the same, and others who haven't and end up barking. Accent plays a big part too. Some accents encourage diaphragmatic breathing more than others.

    Quote Originally Posted by VomitHatSteve View Post
    That said, yes, breathing is absolutely fundamental to singing well. Not knowing how to breathe well and not knowing that you don't know how to breath well will severely limit your growth as a vocalist.

    Once you get "sing from your diaphragm" and "if something hurts, stop doing it" down, you've got 90% of the most important theory down.
    I think that it definitely opens the door to putting a host of things singing within reach.

    Some people think that you are talking about "not running out of breath", when you talk about correct breathing.

    But it is much more than that incidental fact and is the single most important thing that can totally change the tone and dynamic of your voice, to the point that you don't know whether or not you can sing, until you breath correctly. Chances are that you can, because you were born that way. It is just not easy to rediscover. It can take quite a bit of research and experimentation.

    Some singers sound so different when they speak. That is basically a result of the way they breath for singing.

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    isn't this just the same thing as those people who think that because they can get their fingers on a few strings on a guitar, and play a tune - that this makes them a guitarist. A voice is an instrument like all the others, and some people can play, some can't and that is pretty much that. Some can have endless inout via lessons and practice and make minimal progress, others have a natural aptitude. The best singers have this natural ability and have the support of proper lessons or supportive assistance. Bad technique gets caught early and good techniques replace it, and progress takes a jump.

    Television makes people believe ANYONE can sing, and frankly, they just lack the musicality to hear how poor they are - plus when they were at school or college - if they did sing, their friends cheer and whoops and add to the belief they are talented. What's my voice like guys? Brilliant is the answer. If you say terrible, you can affect their mental health. Universities who do Performing Arts and Music in the UK have started to NOT give grades for Year one - in case it damages people! Madness.

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    tbh, I think this can/can't false dichotomy is a big part of the problem. Why is singing different in this respect?

    Is that how it works with playing the guitar? You're seven and mum shows you off to her friend down the road..."Look! My Johnny plays the guitar so nicely"...."oh, yes!....doesn't he....".... then you haul your guitar in to school one day.... Teacher: don't laugh! Johnny's doing very well. Suddenly, mum telling you you can play doesn't cut it. You actually like playing the guitar, and your pride makes you practice. But the mud sticks, and your friends a school keep teasing you. Then you move school, prejudice vanishes, and fresh ears comment. "Damn! I wish I could play like that"......"Get John to play... he's really good....". Then you bump into Bob's elder brother, Eddie. Bob is your best friend. Bob's brother, Eddie isn't that impressed with you guitar skills. He plays the guitar and spots all your limitations in three minutes, and he's not the nurturing type...... You watch Eddie enviously, as he effortlessly plays licks you struggle with. Gotta be like Eddie, otherwise I'm a n00b, you think. Two more years of sweat and toil and you pluck up the courage to see if you're good enough to help out with Eddie's band. It's been a long while since you spoke with Eddie. The Eddie you remember...so cool. You find him at his studio in the middle of waxing lyrical with his mate over the way someone called Fred plays the guitar....

    And so it goes on and on and on....just like my rant....

    There never is a point where you stop because "I can play" or "I can't play", unless you're not really into it.

    It is the same with singing.

    I suspect that professional singers treat feedback from their ordinary fans very differently from feedback from their peers. What do the screaming fans know? "Most of the time, the fans still cheer when we mess up, they clap on the wrong beat, and couldn't tell an F from an F#." Of course they still have to act out a sh1t load of "appreciation" of their fans. Don't tell me that some of these perfectionists take to heart the praise of Joe Blow.

    But they are still interested in the critique of their peers. It's genuine. It's not, "I know I 'can sing', I just gotta hear you say it."

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    isn't this just the same thing as those people who think that because they can get their fingers on a few strings on a guitar, and play a tune - that this makes them a guitarist. A voice is an instrument like all the others, and some people can play, some can't and that is pretty much that. Some can have endless inout via lessons and practice and make minimal progress, others have a natural aptitude. The best singers have this natural ability and have the support of proper lessons or supportive assistance. Bad technique gets caught early and good techniques replace it, and progress takes a jump.

    Television makes people believe ANYONE can sing, and frankly, they just lack the musicality to hear how poor they are - plus when they were at school or college - if they did sing, their friends cheer and whoops and add to the belief they are talented. What's my voice like guys? Brilliant is the answer. If you say terrible, you can affect their mental health. Universities who do Performing Arts and Music in the UK have started to NOT give grades for Year one - in case it damages people! Madness.
    The big difference between the human voice and every other instrument is that almost every single human being on earth dabbles with their voice as an instrument at least a little. Some folks pick up a guitar, get frustrated and never try again; but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who got frustrated with their vocal limitations and then quit entirely.

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    Another smaller difference is that skill level of singing is a lot more subjective. You'll get a much better consensus about your skill level at playing guitar.

    So "can/can't play the guitar" makes more sense than "can/can't sing".

    But both are still meaningless.

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    Everything everyone has said makes sense.......but I think the real question here is.......how is it that some people cannot recognize their own lack of skill? Many people can....and do.....but many cannot or will not. And I'm not just referring to those who get to hear their singing or playing back on tape......(as some never do).....where it should be obvious to anyone......including their own ears. And really.......is this just limited to people who think they can sing and can't or those who think they're a good guitar player and aren't? Inside or outside of music.......there is no realm of human talent that does not seem to have some people like that. Aren't we just looking at a small sample of people (singers / musicians) and trying to figure out the answer.......when the syndrome does not just apply there only?

    When you look at it that way.......and realize that it's likely just a pathological part of some personalities...........as in liars and con men....cheaters.......etc.......we're probably expecting way to much if we expect such people to respond as expected to our feedback. And......that's why this "Can I Sing" thing drives us nuts.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickster View Post
    Everything everyone has said makes sense.......but I think the real question here is.......how is it that some people cannot recognize their own lack of skill? Many people can....and do.....but many cannot or will not. And I'm not just referring to those who get to hear their singing or playing back on tape......(as some never do).....where it should be obvious to anyone......including their own ears. And really.......is this just limited to people who think they can sing and can't or those who think they're a good guitar player and aren't? Inside or outside of music.......there is no realm of human talent that does not seem to have some people like that. Aren't we just looking at a small sample of people (singers / musicians) and trying to figure out the answer.......when the syndrome does not just apply there only?

    When you look at it that way.......and realize that it's likely just a pathological part of some personalities...........as in liars and con men....cheaters.......etc.......we're probably expecting way to much if we expect such people to respond as expected to our feedback. And......that's why this "Can I Sing" thing drives us nuts.
    Ha! I love this question, human psychology and all that.

    First of all, I can't tell you how many times having a slightly higher opinion of my own abilities than I actually possess has helped me in life. Sure, life slaps a reality check in my face every so often, but I get to challenge myself in the brazen way a child does, biting off more that he can chew, but still able to come through smiling, with bumps and bruises. When I look back at successful projects I have taken on, and what they put me through, I marvel at how naive I was to start them in the first place, but I am grateful for that "naivety". Maybe biologists would say that hubris is evolutionary. Maybe there is an "evolutionary advantage" to overestimating your abilities........................slightly!!! It is not difficult to imagine the diminishing returns!!

    Anyway, specifically with singing, I think that one factor I have noticed is that people come in with different motivations. Some people really like the art of singing, others may be in it for "stardom". When the latter type listens to himself "live" or in playback, he may have a whole theatre going on in his head, images of himself prancing about in front of hordes of wild fans, etc. etc. And the real feedback gets swamped by the illusion.

    I recall learning djembe drums (basics) with a friend of mine. While drumming his head would flap about and his whole body would jerk to and fro out of rhythm. There was a whole stadium erupting in front of him, in his study. He would spend the rest of the time "correcting" my drumming. Then he bought one of those software packages that could automatically transcribe a recording to musical notation. We each played a few bars of a rhythm we'd been arguing about. My eight bars came out identical, and when we checked, the notation was correct for the rhythm. His rhythm, on the other hand, transcribed to a mess! There were those continuation things (smiles), under half of his notes. A few months later, when the topic came up again, he had genuinely forgotten. He called me a liar. His mind had rewritten what had happened. I know it was genuine, because I could see a light come on when I reminded him of a phrase he had used at the time: "the computer must have quantized your recording" (to explain why mine had come out right). His mouth just opened, but he said nothing. Pragmatically, I changed the subject.

    Another slightly more subtle effect concerns how we listen to music. Just like looking at a scene, we only "see" a fraction of the scene, and the rest is joined dots, I think it may be the same with sound. The fraction we actually tune into varies according to taste, so we may filter out things we are not interest in. Some who like high frequencies may tune in there, and not be to bothered about how stable the low frequencies are. Somebody else may tune into low frequencies, and be guided mainly by that. The high frequencies may be ragged, come in and out, but they don't notice. So, listening to feedback of yourself singing is quite an art. Like a policeman trained to observe as much as possible about a scene, the singer has to learn to pay attention to the entire bandwidth, even though the casual end listener is going to tune in to their favourite haunts.

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    I have a professional diagnosis that I can't sing. Quite a few years ago I was at an after-show party chatting to the Musical Director (who also did singing lessons when things got slow. She boasted "I can teach anyone to sing" so I said "Yeah? What about me?".

    So, it was set up that I'd get a 1 hour lesson next week. After 45 minutes of trying she pronounce me the exception that proved the rule and asked me to never sing again. I've kept my promise.
    That's what I do. I drink and I know things.
    -Tyrion Lannister (and Bobbsy)

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