“I began singing musical scales to my nine year old when she was just two years old -- even though she was clearly unable to sing them along with me. Shortly after her third birthday, she was still uncertain about the scales but began humming in the background as I sang, slowly, becoming more familiar with the sound of her singing voice. At the age of four, she could sing the scales correctly and by age five she had them memorized. As a nine year old, she can sing them on cue.”
Whether an individual can be taught to sing or not, as well as how early or late in life one can learn or improve their vocal talent is an age-old question. While I do recognize that there are people who seem to have an innate plug-in for musical excellence, I also happen to believe that singing is a talent that can be learned and cultivated over time through repetition, influence, and memory.
As an example, reading is a skill that children learn by practicing with their parents, teachers and other adult influences who take the time to strengthen their fundamental understanding of phonetics. The younger a child is when he or she begins seeing and hearing literature, the better the child’s chances are at becoming a stronger reader earlier on in life. The path to becoming a good singer is similar in that it calls for using habit-forming repetition to strengthens one’s memory over time.
Just as with many other skills, singing can become more difficult to learn as an individual grows older. If a person is learning to sing later in life, it is important to be persistent and tenacious in all efforts to develop their craft; our patience grows thinner with age. In some instances, individuals who have an incredible knack for singing (but have never received vocal training) may reach a peak of what their natural ability will allow and will need to seek expert training to experience a higher level of musical excellence from their voices. Regardless of skill level, training is always relevant and applicable for any singer.
Teaching is a strong form of influence, which is also another critical factor while in the initial evolution of one’s inner ear. It’s important to think of vocal development as a journey and not a destination; a great singer will never stop learning new techniques, approaches, and styles. For many, absorbing the influence of one genre alone has been enough to blossom a brilliant voice. However, limited exposure usually equals limited opportunities, no matter how fantastic those opportunities may be. An individual who is interested in maximizing his or her potential as a singer should ingest a multi-genre fusion of music on a regular basis (performed by both male and female vocalists) to expand and diversify their vocal creativity.