Do I have what it takes to be a singer? Does my child have "it"?

Look online for a few moments and you will be led to believe that singers are either born as a natural talent or they will never be good enough to “make it in this business”! I am here to tell you that is not true…at all!

As I enter my 20th year of teaching voice, I can absolutely tell you that there are many singers who are born with the gift of a beautiful vocal tone, or a strong musical ability, or a natural desire to be on stage as the center of attention. These are lucky people who have an early advantage that could potentially help them advance quickly in their musical studies, but none of these elements lead to a successful career in music by themselves. There are far more people in the world who have a burning desire to make music, to sing for themselves and others, who need to express their emotions through music and have a drive to create. Having drive and a strong work ethic will always outshine natural talent in the end.

While there are many traits that can lead to early success in music, nothing is more important than self motivation and grit! I have seen naturally “gifted” singers quickly fail as they couldn't handle the work load or learn to accept criticism from fans/critics etc. I have seen singers with pitch problems or a lack of pleasing vocal tone learn to focus their studies, cultivate their vocal skills and eventually thrive in the music scene.

If you look back at some of your favorite singers, ask yourself if their voice alone would keep you buying tickets to their shows or streaming their albums? It is rare that vocal sound by itself would keep an audience engaged for a long stretch of time. What keeps people engaged and coming back for more is the emotion and feeling that the music creates. Vocal ability is only one small piece of the professional singer puzzle.

Studying any skill takes practice, repetition, instruction and time…singing is no different. Studying singing or taking voice lessons will teach a singer to identify the ways they can shift pitch, timbre, phrasing, and lyric delivery by making small adjustments. The more a singer develops awareness, the more control they will have to create a performance that they enjoy. While some singers may have a natural tendency to pick up melodic material or move their voices more easily, most people can improve their singing ability with enough time and energy invested into study.

You may see someone with natural talent perform and think “they are going to be a star”, but truly it is impossible to know by talent alone. More importantly, how do they follow instruction? How can they handle critique of their singing? How determined are they to make music a part of their life? Perhaps we should spend less time being impressed by natural ability and show appreciation for tenacity and study. Perhaps we should openly applaud the emotions a singer conveys or the storytelling they create rather than how many whistle tone notes or riffs they can show off.

I ask you to reserve your judgement over whether a singer (your child, sibling, parent, friend etc) has “what it takes to make it”. If they want it enough and they are determined to follow their passion and dedicate the time and energy into developing their skills, anything truly is possible!

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