As the owner of LB Music School and head voice instructor, you might be surprised to know that I didn’t start taking singing lessons until I was an adult. Yes, you read that correctly, I did not start taking singing lessons until after I had graduated from college.
But Lauren, what kept you from taking singing lessons for so long?
The typical things that keep a young child or adult from doing anything. I listened to the people that told me I couldn’t do it and that “maybe singing wasn’t my thing”. I believed what they said and didn’t think about singing until I decided to learn for myself later in life (You can see my transformation in the videos below).
My personal experience with singing is not uncommon to the typical experience I hear from adults later in life who decide to take music lessons. I thought, “Well, I must not be cut out for singing or have the right talent or skills to be any good at it.”
That’s what everyone was telling me, right?
Discouraged At A Young Age By Adults
I remember, when I was about 12 years old, I auditioned for a talent show at my elementary school. I auditioned with “For You I Will” by Monica from Space Jam.
Am I dating myself now?
I got up on stage and sung my heart out. Well, at least I thought I had sung my heart out. And while I probably wasn’t stellar, I’m certain that I wasn’t piercingly horrible. I was told by one of the parents that maybe singing wasn’t my thing and maybe there was something else I could do for the talent show. I reluctantly decided to play a piano piece. I ended up messing that up so badly the night of the performance, I wish I had never performed at all.
I decided to ask my piano teacher if she could teach me to sing. There had been another singer at one of our recitals so I thought that would be a good option. My teacher said that she wasn’t interested in taking on another voice student as piano was her thing. Can’t really blame her. I wasn’t the greatest piano student in the world. In fact, I hated piano and quit after about 2-3 years of lessons. She, like many bad music teachers, assumed I wouldn’t take voice seriously either and decided to give up rather than try and find something that truly interested me.
The Big Game Changer
After pretty much being told I wasn’t good enough by adults, I didn’t look at singing again until I got a guitar. I started writing my own songs and singing them alone in my dorm room or in the basement of my house. Singing in front of people was not something I ever wanted to do again. I’m actually a VERY shy person. I get easily embarrassed when someone asks me to sing even to this day.
For those of your that know me, you probably find that shocking.
Back to the story. When I was 23 I was sharing some songs with the mother of one of my friends. She was actually impressed and said I should sing the songs for other people. I said that I couldn’t do that. People probably wouldn’t like it anyway. She said how do you know if you never try?
Truer words have never been spoken. At the age of 23, I decided to take my first ever singing lesson.
At $60 per 30-minute lesson, they definitely were not cheap by 2006 standards never mind today. After 6 months of lessons I had my first performance in front of real people. It was completely amazing as well as completely nerve racking. But it developed the confidence in myself that I could actually do this.
I continued to study voice consistently every week for about 5-6 years and then off and on with coaches for another 2-3 years. I still meet with voice teachers to this day to brush up on technique and learn new skills and exercises.
The Moral Of The Story
You do not get good by just wishing you could do it. Nor do you get the kind of results you want with a quick fix solution. Honestly, there is no quick fix solution to learning an instrument whether it be guitar, piano, singing, etc.
It takes real determination and dedication.
You CAN sing. You CAN play guitar. You CAN be whatever you want to be and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If you make the commitment and put in the time, you will achieve things that will far exceed your expectations and things that you may have never thought were possible.
You do not need natural talent to be successful. Work with a great music teacher and they will install natural talent into your body with proper training and guidance. I know this for a fact because I’ve experienced it for myself and every day students just like you will tell you that they’ve had the same exact experience.
My Actual Singing Transformation
So if you would like to see my transformation over the years, please listen to the following 4 videos of the same song sung live over the span of 8 years.
First Performance: Dec 2007
I wish I had a video of me singing before I ever took a lesson, but this is the first video recording and was about a year into voice lessons. I advise you to listen to the first verse and chorus of each video.
Now, I know what you’re saying. This isn’t that bad, but to me it’s like nails on a chalk board. My notes are flat, I have very limited range and there is no depth to my voice at all.
Now compare it to this performance a couple years later: Feb 2008
Totally different right? I mean I’m actually singing in pitch and my range on my choruses are so much higher, thought wobbly at times. It just sounds much more comfortable, but there isn’t really a lot of style or vocal color quite yet. ***Addition: You may have noticed that my guitar playing also got better 😉
Fast forward about a year and a half later to June 2011:
Yea, that’s much better and pretty close to how I sing the song today. Can you here how much more warmth and power there is to the voice? I’m so comfortable and relaxed when I sing that I can actually use vocal distortion on my choruses without completely exhausting myself.
And, just to prove that I keep getting better, even when I forget the chords to my own song: May 2016
I hope you have enjoyed seeing my progress over the years.
The key to my success?
I never gave up, no matter what. Success takes time and dedication, NOT natural talent.