"My brother is too kind. He was eminent when my eminence was only imminent." -Niles Crane
Question #91171 posted on 04/19/2018 9:12 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I love singing but at best I am mediocre. I often sing in the ward choir, and can't quite hold my own, but if I hold onto the voice next to me I'm not too shabby 3/4 of the time. I feel like I have potential, but I don't know where to go from here. I've heard (from here on the board) that MUSIC 111R is a good option, but I might not be able to make that work.

What else can I do to improve my singing? I mean, I could just pick songs and try to sing them, but I feel like without guidelines or instruction I'll feel a little aimless and not improve, and maybe give up. I'm not opposed to the idea of occasional private lessons, but how/where do I find one (a good one that preferably doesn't cost too much)? Or besides that, what other things could I do or turn to?




I almost said you can improve on your own, but Anathema changed my mind. You can improve very basic things but for anything like Anathema describes you will need a teacher. If you're pitchy I think you can improve that with a friend, a piano, and learning harmonies. A lot of people get pitch confusion when they're hearing competing lines. I think you can improve on that by having a friend give you your note, then adding other notes while you sing yours. When you're good at that you can start doing whole phrases. Breathing and projecting could probably be improved with Youtube. But things like tonality, open sounding high notes, emoting, projecting etc will require instruction. Thumbtack is an app that connects you to teachers who kind of submit bids to you and you pick. You can find pretty cheap rates there, but keep in mind that anyone can sign up. I liked it as a passive convenient way to reach out to potential piano students. Facebook Marketplace is a good one too. 



Dear Songbird,

I'm similar to you, in that I love to sing but I don't have the greatest voice. I took Music 111R in the hope that it would help me improve, and while it was definitely a useful class, it didn't provide a great deal of individual instruction like I had hoped for. Private lessons are likely going to be the best option, and at BYU where there are so many talented people, you should hopefully be able to find something that doesn't break the bank.

At BYU specifically, you could probably ask around your ward, maybe starting with the ward choir director or anyone else you know who is interested in music, because there's a good chance they'll know someone willing to give lessons. If that doesn't work, you could probably put up an advertisement in the HFAC somewhere and find some interested students.

Outside the BYU community, you could visit local theater establishments and inquire there. The internet is always an option as well, and one that might require less work from you in order to find a suitable teacher.




Dear Bluebird,

At the end of the summer directly before my senior year of high school, I tried to improve my singing. I recorded my voice, and worked on all the things I heard that were not very good. After about a month of this, I felt like I had improved quite a lot. In reality, I didn't. I had no idea what the right things to look for were, or how to physically change the way I sang to put less stress on my vocal cords while going into higher registers. I simply didn't have the right knowledge to be able to get significantly better.

Soon after beginning that year of high school, instead of just trying to improve on my lonesome, I got into private voice lessons. These lessons are what raised my skill level in singing from being okay to being good. Now, I'm not nearly at professional status or anything, and there are many people even just here on the Board who are much better than I am, but I do have an above average voice (actually, after hearing me sing solos in church, I've had several people assume I'm a music major; it's funny to see their faces when I tell them I do math instead). 

After taking private voice lessons for a year, I also took Music 111R about a year ago. It was fun, and I think I got a bit better at singing, but I didn't notice any drastic changes like I did with the lessons. 

So, if you want to truly get better at singing, my advice would be to get into private lessons.