In my singing lessons I see many diﬀerent people and that makes teaching very exciting. Most of my
students have sung a lot, but have never had singing lessons before. There are many new
impressions when you start singing lessons and therefore it is logical that you also encounter some
problems during the lessons or when practicing at home. This can slow down your progress and be
It is my job as a teacher to point out what makes you feel discouraged. To prepare you in advance for what obstacles you might encounter, I've written down six of the most common ones here:
So this article is not about technical obstacles, such as pain when singing, a lot of air on the voice, or inability to reach high notes. That’s what you take singing lessons for. What matters here is what happens next to that.
Almost everyone who comes to singing lessons for the first time has a song or singer who serves as an example of what they want to achieve. And often, these are difficult pieces or incredibly good artists. This can provide a lot of inspiration to start singing, but it can also give you too high expectations of yourself. Professional singers have studied every day for years (no, not two months or ten lessons) to be able to sing the most difficult pieces.
You can learn an awful lot in singing lessons. Singing technique and singing in tune, for example, is teachable for most people with proper instruction and practice. You can notice improvement quickly, but you won’t sing everything perfectly overnight. (And the spoiler you knew was coming: this will never be perfect either.)
A child learning to walk also does not learn to do so by running a marathon but starts by walking from the table to the couch two steps away. Therefore, do not immediately aim to sing your favourite piece or song if this is still very difficult, but practice walking to the kitchen table first. I, as a teacher, can help you choose pieces that fit well with your development. Meanwhile, you can listen to your favourite songs as much as you like.
A question I often get is: what kind of music suits my voice? There is an incredible amount of wonderful music for singers. Sometimes students become obsessed with finding the best type of music for their voice. Every lesson, they tried two new things at home that probably fit much better than the previous song we did. The old song was discarded even though there was definitely room for improvement. Instead of fixating on one piece, they become overwhelmed by the possibilities.
You can work on many aspects: singing with reduced airflow, what to do with your mouth, how to sing a melodic line, when to take a breath, etc. Since you can only focus on one thing at a time, you also have to learn all of these separately. And then you also have to learn to be able to do everything you learned separately simultaneously. Each song has its own challenges, and you can spend several lessons on a song before you master it.
You start singing lessons to learn to sing more beautifully. Ugly singing is precisely what you want to get rid of. We often have a relatively fixed image of what a beautiful singing voice is and want to convey that image when we sing. Only people who are just starting to sing have only a small vocabulary of singing sounds and cannot yet choose what sound they want to use.
Moreover, people also have a natural timbre. Several characteristics influence this, such as the size and shape of the mouth, nose and pharynx and the position of the tongue and jaw. It is possible to use vocal technique to discover new colours in the voice.
Suppose you have in your mind that a beautiful voice has a very full and big sound, but your voice is softer and shriller. So when you sing, you start trying to sound full, but because you don’t have an extensive singing vocabulary yet, you can’t choose a strategy yet. Therefore, you unconsciously sing in the same way all the time.
In singing lessons, you learn to use your voice as an instrument. You discover the different sounds your voice has. These sometimes don’t fit into what you have in your mind as “beautiful“. But to make choices in the way you want to sing, you need to use as many parts of your voice as possible. For example, you can sing rounder in one sad song, while in another angry song, you can use your shrill sound.
The voice is so amazingly expressive that limiting yourself to what you think is a good sound is a waste of time.
I often hear in classes when we’re trying something new: “Yeah, but I just ought to be able to do this.“ In fact, the whole point of why someone takes lessons with me is to learn to be able to do something. To learn something, you have to try and practice. Understanding something is not immediately being able to do something.
It can have several consequences if you keep punishing yourself during the learning process. The more strict you are on yourself that something is not immediately successful, the more focused you are on your failure instead of what you are learning. Singing can become a stressful experience under the pressure of self–imposed punishment. This can lead to poorer performance and a reduced ability to learn and remember information.
Furthermore, it can reduce your motivation to keep learning. You may feel that you are never good enough and will never achieve the desired results, reducing your motivation to continue learning.
Instead of punishing yourself, it is better to see mistakes as a natural part of the learning process and as opportunities to grow and improve. It is essential to encourage and reward yourself for your efforts, even if you have not achieved the desired results. By rewarding and recognizing yourself for what you have learned and accomplished, you will be more motivated, more confident and better able to continue to learn and grow.
It can be hard enough to find the time to practice. Therefore, it is helpful to use your time while practicing as efficiently as possible. In the beginning, you don’t have so many tools to practice; you’ll get those during the time you have lessons. But what doesn’t work well in any regard is to just sing pieces all the way through. If you have 20 minutes to practice, it’s better to practice just the chorus than the whole song. If you do have an hour, it makes more sense to do each verse for 20 minutes and then the chorus for 20 minutes.
Learning something takes effort and energy. It takes energy for our brain to process, store and recall information. In addition, the learning process can be mentally and physically exhausting, especially if we have to focus on a particular subject or skill for an extended period.
I often hear in class, “It’s not working right now because I’m overthinking.“ Then they would prefer to stop practicing. Usually, people are concentrating on the right subject only then. Quitting the exercise at that moment is a waste. But because learning takes more effort initially and people want something to succeed immediately (see point 4), they give up the exercise.
You also don’t need inspiration or motivation in the moment to do an exercise; you have to do it if you want to progress. Repetition and consistency are essential for strengthening the neural connections in our brains involved in learning and performing skills.
So you can see it’s important to keep practicing even when it seems tedious or tiring. You will eventually be able to do more; from that, you will get the inspiration and motivation to try new pieces.
Receiving feedback and setting goals for each exercise can make practicing much more fun. And, of course, you can also take breaks when you have repeated the exercise several times.
Music theory is an enormously broad subject. Music theory can sound terrifying if you’ve never taken music lessons. You want to enjoy singing and listening to music and not deal with the complex theory. Plus, it takes extra time to learn music theory, and it’s hard enough to find time in your busy week to practice singing. So it is also not surprising that students report to me that they are not interested in learning music theory.
Still, I want to make a case for music theory because it is an important part of understanding and making music. It can help you understand melodies, harmonies and rhythms, and it can help you communicate better with other musicians. It can also help you create your own music and improve your overall musical skills. With the right guidance and resources, learning music theory can be valuable experience for any musician.
If you have no experience in making music, chances are you are looking for easy, accessible and fun adult singing lessons. What if you could share this experience with like-minded people? People who enjoy learning in an open environment withthe out pressure to perform for the teacher.
If you recognize yourself in this, then Studio MusicalMente’s group singing lessons are the new format for you!