Does it make you mad when you see someone who is insanely talented and they never even took a voice lesson?
Man, they make it look so easy, don’t they?
They waltz on stage puffing on a cigarette and proceed to rock your socks off.
You’ve been working harder. You’ve been practicing every day. You even rinsed your sinuses for that one gig!
The world loves an underdog story. Where the scrappy underprivileged punk challenges the odds and finds fame, wealth and success.
It’s a good story, maybe. But it’s full of holes.
But what about amazing singers like Freddie Mercury, who never took a lesson, you may ask?
Singers have fawned over Queen’s lead vocalist Freddie Mercury for decades. If not for his shape-shifting and eccentric voice, rock and roll would have missed a huge step in music evolution.
But talent like this is reserved for the 1%.
I’d like to go so far as to say that there are the only 3 reasons why a singer who has never taken a voice lesson could ever be so good.
Yes, this is an old-cop out, but it is a true cop-out.
Unfortunately, there are huge advantages to having good genes. Things like the size, flexibility and stamina of the vocal folds can be huge factors in singing.
But there are plenty of singers who make their living without some or any of these advantages. Never discount your ability just because of genetics.
2) Involvement in music from a young age.
You would be hard pressed to find any super talented people who were not involved in music in a big way from a young age.
Music ignites virtually every center of the brain, not just the language centers.
People who start music education early are more likely to have their neurons primed and ready for showtime anytime.
But the marvelous thing about music is that it doesn’t care how old you are. You are never too old to start singing or learning an instrument.
3) Finally, they’re probably singing wrong.
The truth is, there are way more ways to sing wrong that to sing right. If you pick up everything you know about singing by imitating others, chances are you are singing incorrectly.
That’s because the vast majority of professional singers are singing incorrectly a lot of the time.
For a second, let’s dissect correct singing. Singing correctly means being able to sing throughout your range without any strain, sudden breaks or inconsistencies in the sound.
Do you know how rare that is?
For my students, if you’ve sung a “Mum” or a “Nuh” on the octave and a half scale (aka long scale), then you probably did so after a good amount of time in lessons.
If you manage to sing from the bottom to the top of your voice without breaking anywhere, that alone is amazing.
If the stars aligned and pigs flew, maybe we got the larynx to rest also.
Finally, could you apply that correct singing to the barrage of vowels and consonants you encounter in even the simplest lyrics?
Correct, healthy singing is not easy to do.
So most pro singers don’t even try. They try to sing like Adele (polyps and vocal hemorrhage surgery 2012), or Sam Smith (vocal hemorrhage surgery 2015) or like Freddie Mercury (had vocal nodes but refused surgery).
So you see where that gets you.
Perhaps instead of feeling envious of the uber talented, often wrong 1%, we can give ourselves gladness that we’re part of the hard working, healthy and wise 99% of singers who are just trying to do the best with what we have. A huge part of that process is having a good voice teacher who can help you reach goals that are good for you.