Sometimes singing teachers say things like: use your ears and listen when you sing.

To me this sounds a bit crazy. I would say that what most people do is focusing on feeling the notes rather than on hearing them. I am not the expert so I might be wrong. I myself try to feel the notes rather than hearing them. This is why I don't understand why focusing on hearing is the best thing to do. I am not sure that singers even hear what they sing. Pianists might hear but not singers. What does a singing teacher refer to when he/she says that a singer should use the ears and listen?

  • What do you refer to when you say that you feel and don't hear? Do you "feel" when you're out of tune, or rushing or dragging, or too aggressive in a soft passage, or too soft in an aggressive passage? Can you feel the lyrics? Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 16:40
  • feeling? let's say I sing Do-Re-Mi-Fa. I will feel eg. the Mi-Fa rather than just hear it. It just have to come. It is super difficult to explain. It's like Mi just leads me to Fa. Sometime I will fail because I refuse to just go with how Mi leads to Fa. I will be able to hear afterwards on a recording. I feel how difficrent notes lead to echother. When I sing Do-Mi-Sol I just have to let harmonics do the job. It is not about hearing.
    – user20754
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 17:09
  • Have you tried singing and playing the same notes on an instrument at the same time? How do you tell if you sang the same or different notes you played on the instrument? Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 17:22
  • 1
    @Hank Can you hear if/when your singing goes out of tune? I can, and I have to correct myself quickly whenever I do so. (I'm worried that you sing off-key due to not hearing yourself sing.)
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 9:52
  • you could be very correct
    – user20754
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 13:34

2 Answers 2


Singing by feeling involves a lot of guesswork that a person might not be aware of. When a person can't hear himself sing, his brain doesn't have enough information to know exactly how to adjust muscle control in the voice box, breath control and volume control. Finding your pitch is next to impossible for most folks. If you've ever heard someone singing along to music while listening on headphones without their own voice in the mix, you can appreciate the importance of being able to hear yourself when you sing. Try cupping your hand around your ear, holding it close to the side of your face and notice the difference in the way you sing when you can hear yourself. You'll probably notice both a difference in the way you sound when you sing, and because you'll be adjusting the sound of your voice according to what you're hearing, the way it feels will also feel differently to you. I'm a strong advocate of experimentation and I encourage others to try as many different ways as they can think of to grow and develop their musical skills.

  • It's been said tat we can 'hear' what we sing due to the vibrations going from mouth/throat through our skull's bone structure and eventually to our ears. Not sure if that 'fact' has relevance here.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 16:14
  • @Tim- I can't dispute your point, but I know I sound much different to others when I sing than I do to myself when I sing without the help of a good monitor system. I'm guessing the voice instructor is trying to help the student realize how they sound to others by listening to the external sound of the voice as compared to the internal sound you are referring too. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 16:26
  • We all sound very different when we compare our voice played back in recordings to what we think we sound like! And when using amps, that quality, for want of a better term, is generally enhanced to sound better than we would 'acoustically'. I stopped using foldback several years ago, for many reasons - one being it couldn't be guaranteed that the monitor sound was anything like the p.a. sound, so it was sometimes a red herring.When I did sound for jazzers from all over the world, we could take time to adjust the p.a. and foldback so it sounded just like acoustic, for those who knew what ...
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 16:34
  • ...they wanted. That was a joy. But now, I don't have that luxury afforded, so feel safer listening to what the p.a. is delivering.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 16:36
  1. For timing.

  2. To keep in tune with whatever else is going on.

  3. To listen to the quality of the voice.

  4. To balance with whatever else is going on.

  5. To be aware of diction and appropriate volume for each word/phrase.

  6. When using a mic, to have it in the best place for tone and volume.

Can't really understand why every singer doesn't listen properly, but some need to work on that side of things. Not so much 1 2 and 3, but certainly 4, 5 and 6.

And why single out vocals? Every musician's most important organs are their ears!

No doubt others will mention lots that have been missed here.

  • so listening is more important than feeling what you do? How do singers listen? I just find that feeling what I do is easier than hearing what I do.
    – user20754
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 15:49
  • 2
    I guess an easy test would be to wear some ear defenders and try singing - record it. Hear what happens.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 16:00

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