Why can’t i sing when it’s so EASY for others?
Have you ever wondered “why is singing so hard” when others make really solid progress after a few easy singing lessons? Well, I’m here to help you when NOTHING seems to work! Trust me, I once asked myself the same question, for a VERY long time I really thought that my voice just ‘sucked’ and there was no way for a voice like mine to soar into the high range – until I started to break down my approach to singing, and really change my attitude towards the task at hand.
First up, I’ll be completely honest with you – there really is no ‘secret’ to fantastic singing, it takes work, dedication, and of course – an approach that is practical, easy to follow and gives you all of the information you need to troubleshoot your own voice. I find this is something sorely missing from most contemporary singing approaches – a way for you to develop and tune your own voice rather than being told to simply “do this here” and “sing like this”. Understanding HOW and WHY your voice works the way it does is just as important as being able to warm up and practice exercises in the right manner. Often, with learning a new skill, we’re our own worst enemies – lack of motivation, dedication, wanting “the easy way” instead of following “The right way” are all part of the reason why singing is harder for some people than others – and the contradictory resources and information out there only serves to muddy the waters even more. To make it easier, I’ve complied a number of common issues I see in singers who are consistently hitting an annoying roadblock in their vocal progress, along with ways to overcome these hurdles and let your voice really SHINE:
But I need “this technique” to sing better…
Putting too much importance on “one” single technique is the first red flag – singing is like an engine, your voice is made up of multiple moving parts that all work in conjunction with each other, no technique is more important than any other technique – when it comes to singing, all parts are equal. For example, a common question I get from new singing students is “how to get rid of a breathy singing voice”, and they’re right – breathy singing is the pits, it’s unpleasant and it causes wear and strain to your voice – but the answer, surprisingly, is not often “breathing”.
Breathy singing… but it’s not caused by breathing? That’s right – a breathy singing tone can be caused by improper use of the soft palate, an incorrectly formed or tuned vowel, improper placement, bad posture, and so on and so on. So you can now clearly see that if we were to ‘obsess’ over the singular technique of breathing, then the issue would never go away, and we would further exacerbate the problem by adding more and more air pressure and support.
Quite often, the ‘effect’ is seemingly unrelated to the ’cause’ when it comes to singing issues, this is why it can be SO difficult to fix singing issues such as strain and breatihness, because our voices are leading us down the garden path when the answer was actually at the front gate where we started. Two of the biggest issues I see in budding singer’s voices is impropery formed and tuned vowels, and also a lack of understanding of how the voice really works other than ‘air and sound”
The solution, is to build your voice with a ‘steps based’ approach – add your technique and tone on top of a healthy foundation piece by piece, and you’ll soon discover exactly where your technique is lacking. If you’re still struggling with a specific technique, you’re welcome to book a session with me personally and I’ll help you diagnose the cause of your singing woes and show you how to power up your singing technique in the right way.
The pieces don’t fit…
Cherry picking pieces of information from different sources, and then trying to ‘fit’ them together is going to cause more issues than it could ever solve – if you treat each singing approach, each coach and each singing course as a separate ‘language’, then your voice is going to improve out of sight in a very short time; but on the flipside, if you’re confusing your techniques and terminology from two different “learn how to sing” approaches, then you’re creating a frankenstein hybrid that is sure to cause a plethora of singing issues along the way.
The best thing to do, is pick one puzzle, and finish it – become a master of your chosen singing approach, and if you still feel there is something ‘missing’, you can then start another puzzle by trying a new approach or following a different course – but remember, you need to follow the approach from the start so that you don’t make any glaring omissions from the foundation and basis of each approach.
If you’ve been struggling with one course or approach for some time, and you just want to try something new without losing any progress you’ve made, then the solution is to compartmentalise your singing techniques into separate practice routines – practice one on the one day, then practice another on the following day – you’ll soon work out which technique and singing approach is working for you, and which one is holding you back.
I love the term ‘Tabula Rasa’ when it comes to singing – which roughly means “Start with a clean slate”. I like to start each day, and each practice session as though I have NEVER sung before, and develop my voice each day from scratch rather than jumping ahead simply because I had a ‘good day’ the previous day. Honing and tuning your voice really does take finess and patience, so make sure to take your time and avoid the temptation to cherry-pick your sources of information and advice.
Practicing with intent…
It sounds crazy, but you really don’t need all those crazy exercises and to spend a full hour of practice each day to build a convincingly powerful and beautiful voice, all you need is ONE single exercise, and to vary your intent every time you use it.
For example, you can use a simple major scale to practice placement by humming an “N” or “NG” sound, and then use the same scale (and same sound!) to release your registers, strengthen your support and set up your soft palate correctly – in fact, you can even use this exact same exercise (and sound) by altering the soft palate and shaping your tongue to EQ your vowels properly. Obviously, there’s more efficient ways to hone in on alot of these techniques, but I’m sure you get my point – it’s not the exercise itself, but the INTENT behind how you’re practicing.
I find there’s alot of confusion out there as to “why” you should practice certain exercises, and this is where ‘intent’ is the important thing – if you don’t understand “why” or “how” or “When” to modify and tune your vowel width, then obviously you’re not going to be building healthy habits any time soon by practicing them inconsistently. The most important thing is to understand the ROOT of what you’re being taught, rather than HOW it is being taught to you – if you’re practicing an exercise, and you don’t know why, then it’s important you raise the question with your coach/course so that you can practice with the right intent and really nail the purpose of the exercise and ensure consistency from day to day each time you practice.
Do you understand what ‘placement’ really is? Do you understand WHY and HOW to modify/tune your vowels? Do you know how resonance really works? These are the questions you should be asking, and these should form the INTENT behind each of your practice sessions and every single exercise that you use. Without the right focus, then there’s almost zero point practicing at all, because you’re going to wipe it all clean the next day when you do the same exercise with a different though process and intent.
I’ve put together a short tutorial on all these points to help you diagnose your singing issues and really streamline the process of learning how to sing:
You can already do it…
As a final point, you likely already CAN sing at the pitch you’re going for, or with the POWER that you’d like – it’s just that you don’t know how. If you treat your warmup and practice routing in this manner, as though you ‘can’ hit those tricky notes and you’re just trying to work out how exactly to do it – rather than trying to ‘Stretch’ and ‘create’ that high range, you’ll find that you’ll reach your singing goals much, MUCH sooner. Again, the voice really is a SUBTLE piece of machinary that requires finess, the right approach and of course proper maintenance, so if you’re trying to push and do something unnatural, then it’s likely you’re simply going at it the wrong way. Singing should be free, easy, simple and enjoyable, not difficult, painful and a chore.
Learning how to sing need not be so difficult, it can be a pure joy… IF you have the right approach and you’re taking the right steps to build your voice in the correct way. If you’re still wondering “Why can’t I sing?” – then need to ask yourself the questions:
- Am I focussing on ONE technique as the cause of/solution to my issues?
- Have I cherry-picked the information from multiple sources instead of following through with each approach?
- Am I practicing with the right INTENT behind each exercise and practice session?
If you’re ready to power up your voice and take your singing to the next level, you’re welcome to book a session with me personally and I’ll SHOW you how it’s done.
Feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.