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I'm 28 and I've always loved singing along with music, but of course, I sounded just as awful as you might imagine an untrained singer to sing. After dealing with some personal issues, I've decided that I want to learn how to sing "properly".

However, I am a bit scared that I may be too old already, and that I've missed my chance to learn it when I was younger. I've also seen a related question about learning an instrument, but I am not sure if learning an instrument is the same as learning to sing. I've also read the answers to this question, about whether or not anyone can learn how to sing, but it seems more focussed on whether or not someone who struggles to hit certain notes, rather than age.

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    I'd say 115 is probably too old. It's becoming too late to log those 10,000 hours... – Tim Aug 24 at 18:22
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    You can never be too old to do the things you love – Olli Aug 24 at 19:17
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    Age has nothing to do with being a good singer. Even just a few lessons will make you better than 90% of untrained singers out there. Learn how to belt and impress your friends. – user91988 Aug 25 at 15:04
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    When I read your title, I stupidly read it as - being one years old, is it too late to learn how to sing? To which I thought, your expectations for your children are a bit too high! – T James Aug 25 at 17:45
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    There are enough good answers that I won't add another that says the same thing, just another anecdotal data point. My father's mode of singing was charitably called "making a joyful noise" as he rumbled and warbled in church, vaguely following the hymnal melody line an octave down. He was around 65-70 when he joined the church choir and someone taught him to sing! He went from rumbling around to being able to read and sing his own part -- the baritone harmony, not just the melody an octave down. So there's always time. – shoover Aug 26 at 21:07
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You are never too old to sing in general. If you want to sing very demanding technical pieces such as opera or if you wish to sing professionally, there may be a time limit but at 28 you are nowhere near that.

There's an African saying

If you can talk you can sing, if you can walk you can dance

You didn't mention what type of music you want to sing, but most people simply learn to sing by singing. Sing along with songs that you want to learn. Then record yourself and listen to how you sound.

There are lots of teachers who teach singing. Find one that teaches the type of singing that you want to learn. A good teacher will make learning faster and if you are singing demanding music, the teacher can teach you techniques to protect your vocal cords.

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    Thank you very much for your answer. I tried the "learn to sing by singing" method - unknowingly - and I can tell you that that didn't work. I'm trying to get singing lessons now, but it's a bit of a struggle against me being ashamed of being really bad. I know it's nonsensical, but the thing about irrational fears is that they're irrational. I also don't plan on singing professionally, but merely as a form of self-expression. As for style...I don't really know how to explain it. My taste in music is strange. – Osakabe-Hime Aug 24 at 19:41
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    @Osakabe-Hime I keep from being intimidated by teachers the same way I do with doctors. If I hire a teacher, then they are my employee. If they can't do the job, I will fire them. Look for a teacher like you would look for a dentist--get the painless one. There are teachers who specialize in adult learners with confidence issues. Find those by asking friends and friends of friends. – pro Aug 25 at 0:17
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    In fact folk wisdom for operatic singers is that the voice only becomes fully mature after around age 30-40. This is physiological, not amount of training, although of course a lot of the latter is required as well. You have plenty of time beginning at 28. – obscurans Aug 27 at 5:24
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Not everyone can be a good singer but it has little to do with age

Even the best singers start to lose their voices when they reach their 70s and 80s. At 28 you are nowhere near that. It is not too late to try.

However people are born with their anatomy and the anatomy of head, throat and chest make a voice beautiful or not. Just as people are born to be a successful athlete or not, or to be a model or not.

I know this from my own personal experience. I have taught classical guitar and I have been in all sorts of bands. However despite trying all avenues, I am not a singer.

Am I trying to discourage you? No, but for those who have the natural ability, it is all too easy to raise false expectations in those who don't.

My message is to stop being embarrassed.

If you want to see someone who can't sing at all and has zero embarrassment about it, listen to anything by William Shatner of Star-Trek fame. Here's an example

Go to a teacher that claims anyone can sing. They will, by the very nature of their job, have dealt with all the worst voices imaginable. You won't be anywhere near the worst. They won't be embarrassed and neither should you. Either they will succeed and you will be able to sing or they will fail thus proving themselves wrong - you can ask for a refund!

There are even choirs that are especially for people that can't sing but don't care!

That’s what makes The Tuneless Choir such a curious little society. They don’t cringe at tone-deaf vocalists; they actually welcome clumsy singers with open arms. If you can’t ever seem to hit the right note, you’re a perfect fit for membership.

https://themanc.com/news/choir-for-bad-singers/

Here's a story that resonates with my experience -


The reasons for being a poor singer are

(1) inability to hear notes correctly (being tone-deaf) - there is no cure for this and to tell a tone-deaf person otherwise is inconsiderate - I have a friend who really is tone deaf and she hates people telling her how easy it would be if she only tried harder.

(2) inability to reproduce notes that you've heard - this can be improved with practice and exercises. It involves improving agility and accuracy of the vocal tract

(3) inability to keep a steady rhythm - this can be improved with practice

(4) the lack of resonance, in your head and chest. This is purely an anatomical phenomenon (it also happens to be my problem). People with truly beautiful voices are born that way and the opposite is also true.


Alternatives

There are get-outs. If you can't sing then maybe you can rap. There is also a technique of musical "talking". In classical terms it is called Sprechgesang.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprechgesang

It has been quite popular with famous actors who have good speaking voices but can't hold a tune. I've already mentioned William Shatner but there are many. Anything that involves Rex Harrison 'speak-singing' is worth a listen.


I'll tell you my experiences if you're interested. I ended up being a good musician but never a singer. (pass mouse over the box below)

At my first school I was asked by the teacher not to sing when the class was singing. She said my voice was "too gruff"

I was rejected for the choir at my next school. I was also told to mime but not sing in assembly

When I first heard my recorded voice I understood why. I was reasonably in tune but the tone of my voice was terrible.

On various occasions I have been asked not to sing. For example as a student, I had a boring holiday job - I would sing while I worked. One of the workers actually came up to me to say he had drawn the short straw to ask me to stop as no-one could stand it!

Later I decided to have singing lessons. I did the exercises religiously. After 8 weeks the singing-teacher told me she couldn't do anything with me and was discontinuing the lessons.

While all this was going on I took up guitar. I ended up playing in bands and had many years of musical enjoyment. I also qualified at a London music college and was a successful classical guitar teacher.

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    True physical tone-deafness is extraordinarily rare; I've only heard of it in relation to brain damage. Note for example that if someone were born "tone deaf" and raised to speak a tonal language (such as Chinese), they'd be unable to speak or understand the language. Your friend can probably already tell the difference between low and high notes, in which case they are not actually tone-deaf. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 25 at 16:45
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    "inability to hear notes correctly" : that was me a few years ago. I wasn't tone-deaf, but my ears were completely untrained and gave no or useless feedback while singing. My singing got much better but I had to train my ears first. – Eric Duminil Aug 26 at 11:51
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    I don't buy the stuff about some people not having a voice to sing. Yes, every one's anatomy is different, producing different sounds. And yes, some voices sound way off when singing. However, there is also a vast variety of musical genres, and they call for very different kinds of voices: You can't sing heavy metal with a sweet thin voice. And you can't sing Bach with the rough voice of a rock star. I remember hearing a number of singers with very different voices, and some voices were simply not fit for some of the songs they sung. But each and every one had songs where their voice was best. – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 26 at 22:49
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    They were total amateurs. People who never had any kind of training. They were just trying themselves out. And yes, some of them were straining my nerves with their singing. Nevertheless, I did realize that each and every one of them had potential in their voice, and I heard the proof of that in the few songs where their voices were just exactly right. – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 26 at 23:07
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    Well, my experience with that group of singers is only one half of my evidence. The other half is what I've learned by being taught by a competent teacher. Which showed me all the things that are really learning and training (pitch control, rhythmic control, volume control, sound control, pronounciation, body control, etc. pp.). The only thing not on that list is the natural sound of the voice itself. However, you can match that natural sound to a vast set of musical genres, or use technique to tweak the sound of your voice to make it fit with the music you like. Which again, is learnable. – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 26 at 23:26
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Very short answer: you can sing at any time you want. You may not sound like Elvis Presley, but you can do it.

Another very short answer: you can always start anything. You may not want, or you may not be able to reach the desired result in the time you have, with the resources you allocate (e.g. time is a very important resource), but starting and giving a try is actually a very good thing to do.


My personal experience

Regarding voice singing, there were several phases in my life.

  1. During kinder garden, I was not able to repeat the sequence of claps, as demo'ed by the teacher. I was labeled of not having a "musical ear".
  2. I was singing, everyone was horrified, I did not understand why - everything sounded right to me.
  3. I was singing, everyone was horrified, I was also horrified. I learned during this period to not sing, or sing only when there was no one around. Ideally while music was loud in the headphones.
  4. Same like 3, but I began to understand that I had difficulties to "sing" a certain range of tones - the range where most common songs need. I had no (significant) trouble going lower or higher.
  5. (current phase) Miraculously, I can sing several songs, I am positively impressed by the quality, people are also positively impressed if they happen to hear me.

Comments:

  • I never had a target in my life to become a singer
  • I never attempted to improve my singing abilities; it just happened;
  • if I would practice more, and care of my vocal cords more, my singing abilities might improve a lot;
  • I am quite sure I will not become a next Pavarotti, but I fancy that I might (some day) have a small concert of my own;
  • one person heard me singing and suggested that I should take canto lessons; I laughed inside :D

Bottom line: give it a try and never regret it. You actually have nothing to lose. It can only improve your quality of life, even if just a little.

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I'd say: No. Just do it!

Your voice will probably change as you get older, and you might like or dislike that. I found that my natural ability to sing higher notes has disappeared and made room for bass notes/drones, and with effort and practice I can reach the higher notes better and better, so I haven't lost but gained.

You cannot change your voice, but there's many aspects of singing, and you can work on/improve most of them, if you want to:

  • Intonation (Can you reach and maintain the right pitch, on single notes and note sequences?)
  • Rhythmic Precision (Are you singing the right notes at the right times?)
  • Linguistic Precision (Are you actually singing the right words/syllables with the right pronounciation (when singing songs in a different language)?)
  • Power (Are you using your strongest/loudest voice with a full breath?)
  • Stability (Can you sing the right notes of the second voice even if the singer of the first voice makes mistakes or is double as loud as you?)
  • Transposition (Can you sing in a different key?)
  • Expression (Can you convince people? Do you actually like the songs you are singing? Are you putting your heart into your singing?)
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    Power (Can you sing softly with a firm sound?) - Volume is easy. Controlled power is hard. – cmaster - reinstate monica Aug 26 at 23:10
  • Yes, you are right. I meant to say something about how we sometimes don't put all our power into our singing voice, for a number of reasons...we might have a personality that never shouts, never raises his voice, never wishes to intimidate or annoy others. And so we sing like that. For me it was a huge discovery that I could also sing otherwise, with much more power, that I can make a point or a statement...and so I do that. – Mister Woyng Aug 28 at 6:35

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