When I ask someone if they would be interested in joining Cantala I almost always hear "Oh! Sorry....can't sing" or "I would love to, but I've been told I can't sing". Yet, as a singing teacher and choral conductor for several years, I have yet to meet anyone that I can't teach how to sing.
That said, I don't guarantee a pleasant sounding singing voice. But singing? Yes. You can do it.
I always cringe when I hear "sorry....I can't sing". It's am yet to meet someone who can not sing.
Many years ago I had choral colleague send me a 6 year old boy. He really wanted to sing in the local children's choir, but he couldn't match pitch. After working with him for 5 minutes I was able to get him to match pitch, no problem. And with hard work, he enjoyed many years singing in the choir.
Matching pitch is the ability to hear a pitch and be able to replicate it. This ability, while innate in some, can be difficult for others. But can be learned.
Research shows that children that can't match pitch were likely not sung to as babies. As a result of this research, I made sure to sing to both of my babies. And now, if my son would just stop yelling "and the wheels on the bus!" he can successfully sing a tune. Similarly, my daughter can sing very well on pitch and I have been able to recognise her melodies for many years. (Phew. My singing paid off in that rocking chair).
So what's the magic ingredient to matching pitch (and thus being able to sing)? All of the students that I have ever taught that can't match pitch have two things in common:
-speaking voices that exhibit low pitch &/or vocal fry
-incorrect preparation of the breath before starting to phonate (sing)
Once these issues are fixed, they can match pitch. But make no mistake about it, it takes hard work and perseverance for it to be automatic and natural. Often seeking speech therapy is helpful for those who really have poor speaking technique.
Now for the people that were told they couldn't sing. Well, that is just cruel, damaging and untrue. These people often recall they were asked to "sing quieter" or encouraged to "just mouth the words" as early as in preschool experiences. These comments seem to be very life altering. I have many people recall to me when, where and by whom they were told to "hush up". Now, as choral and voice teachers, our opportunity to educate others and encourage people to try and sing again is important since singing can have many positive outcomes in a persons life. But who can blame them that they never want to open themselves up to more criticism? A voice is so personal. It can feel like you are lying your emotions and heart out on the floor for someone to see. We were born with our voice. And while we can groom and shape our voice, its basic qualities are unchangeable. They are there from birth and any criticism can be devastating.
If you are one of those people that were told you couldn't sing, or truly believe you can't- try once more, with us. We'd be happy to bring you into the fold.