Can Anyone Sing With Voice Lessons? The TRUTH from a Professional Voice Coach

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Hey there!

My name is Jacob Burton. Welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you stopped by 🙂

I am a Professional Vocal Coach in Nashville, Tennessee.  I teach out of a little studio called Shameless Singing.  I also teach clients all over the world via Skype and FaceTime. I love my job and I love helping people reach their vocal goals.  To kick us off today I wanted to cover the single most popular question I get asked as a vocal coach:

“Can you REALLY teach anyone to sing?”
I have to admit, I had no clue this would be the big question when I first started coaching.  People ask all kinds of things about my field, but this question is far and wide the one that is most often blurted out of curious minds.

So! What is my answer you ask?

“Yes.”

I truly believe that if a singer is willing to work hard, practice, and commit to my regimen, that they can dramatically improve their singing voice.

This applies to every. Single. Person.  Yes, even your uncle who you hate sitting next to in church on Easter Sunday because he sounds like a one-man-deaf-choir.  Even him.  Yes, your friend who loves karaoke but never got the memo that she ain’t makin’ the key change in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” This applies to her.  And your English teacher from high school who spoke creepily in her head voice but laughed loudly in her chest voice when some witty rhetoric was discussed in class? Even. Her.

If someone comes to me and has the resolve that they are willing to do whatever it takes to improve their voice, they will improve their voice! It’s very simple!  Where people always get lost is the process.

Dun dun dun!

What’s the “process” you ask? Every singer/ artist/ musician/ songwriter/ etc. is in, what I call, a process. Beyonce is somewhere in her process!  We are all growing, learning, changing, and adapting.  This is a beautiful thing, and without becoming too philosophical- this is life! This is your “process.”  There is always room to expand, and their is always room to grow.  The question is: are you willing to do the work it takes to get to the next level?

The only time I have worked with a client and they do not grow from wherever they began in their process is when they don’t do the three things mentioned above: work hard, practice, and commit to my regimen.  “Work hard” means that they come to their lessons prepared, focused, and ready to give me 100%.  “Practice” means they take the recording from our time together and practice to it at LEAST five times during the week before we meet again.  And “commit to my regimen” means that they follow any diet, sleep, and/ or exercise  modifications that I prescribe to them.

Boom! It’s a wrap! They are on a one-way-street to massive vocal improvement! I am their biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and at their shows.  I will not hesitate for one second to make a fool of myself at one of my client’s performances, I’m just that obsessed with seeing my people succeed 🙂 *Think embarrassing-dad-levels-of-enthusiasm meet perfect hair 🙂

So there is my answer. I truly believe that I can teach anyone to sing. I take the greatest joy in doing it too! The bigger question is whether or not the singer is willing to put in the work.

“But what about someone who is tone deaf?!”

If you want to get technical with me (and I know some of you do), I will concede this- the only type of singer that can’t be taught is someone with extreme vocal damage (the kind that needs surgery as soon as possible), or someone who is TRULY beyond a shadow of a doubt, completely and utterly tone deaf (which is estimated to be only about 4% of the population or less).

In most cases, if I have clients come to me with vocal damage it can be repaired or strengthened through vocal exercises, diet change, and proper rest- not surgery. The need for surgery is uncommon and a last resort.  If a singer has had vocal surgery, voice lessons  and speech therapy are extremely crucial to the vocalist’s rehabilitation, so even then its hard to say that a damaged voice “can’t be taught.”

And what about the big one? Tone Deafness. I often hear people tell me that they think they’re tone deaf and that they cannot be taught. I usually discover that they are not tone deaf.  Many years ago I worked with a client who was certifiably tone deaf, and no matter what I tried he continued to struggle matching pitch. When he DID practice (which was not something he did often) his voice was able to lock into the pitch and carry a tune quite nicely.  He was still tone deaf by almost anyone’s standards, but there was notable improvement.  So in my book even this tone deaf guy who people avoid standing next to in the church house can be “taught how to sing.”
Call me crazy.  Tell me I’m a hopeless romantic. Write me off as someone with delusions of grandeur.
At the end of the day I am willing to take on virtually any client with any obstacle they are facing with their voice. The real question is always whether or not the client is willing to put in the work to overcome that obstacle.  If they are willing, I can teach them how to sing 🙂
Jacob Burton

Jacob Burton

Jacob Burton is a highly rated professional vocal coach located in Nashville, Tennessee. He offers instruction via both online and in studio, and specializes in singing with proper technique, increasing the vocal range, vocal therapy, and especially the "mix" technique.