If you're serious about learning how to sing, I recommend you check out this fabulous masterclass by Christina Aguilera:
Matching pitch. Play a note and match it with your voice.
Work on your breathing and posture. http://youtu.be/PJzflvDTWno
Understand your vocal range and vocal register. http://lifehacker.com/find-your-vocal-range-in-2-minutes-with-this-video-1652758850
Practice. Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. Sing while doing house chores. Go to Karaoke. Join a choir. Try out different types of music and singing styles but be careful not to stretch your vocal range too far out of its comfort zone because you can damage your voice.
Get on Masterclass.
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The great news here is that you have the ONE THING you need to be a good singer: interest.
Pitch, like everything else, is a learned skill.
Lessons can help you learn how to optimally use your voice. Yeah, some people might have some sort of structural situation with their body that impacts certain aspects of their voice for the better (like it would be hard to be a professional basketball player if you were 4'9"), but in general, it's ALL LEARNED.
Even people who are considered to be "magical geniuses" like Mozart just appear to be that way because of very intense training from early childhood, or have musical parents (which often translates to early exposure and training). As a person who had neither of these things, and had to learn it all myself, I can tell you that it 10000% can be done.
For fun, here's some interesting info. A recent study of people with "perfect pitch" revealed that every person with "perfect pitch" had some sort of training as a young child. Also, people born in countries with tonal languages (where pitch determines the meaning of words) were even more likely to have perfect pitch. Also, studies have been done in which 100% of the subjects were able to gain perfect pitch of individual notes within 1 1/2 years of only being taught to hear chords. The study was done on children, but adults can definitely learn to match their voices to the center of a pitch.
Professional voice lessons will totally help you. If you can't afford them, look around in your city for the best choir and talk to them about options. Singing in a really good choir can also help! You're taught to listen and match pitch to the piano/orchestra and the people around you.
As for the quality of your voice, a professional can help you to find the special aspects (everyone has them). It took me a long time to realize that my voice wasn't bad, but actually was really pretty. I was wanting it to be a belty broadway voice (which I've learned to do in short stints), but that my real skill is in light, beautiful and technical singing. I also have a much higher range than I thought. Now that I'm not trying to belt out a show-stopper all the time, I can focus on the stuff that I can excel at and I'm loving it!
Welcome to the singing club! We're glad to have you here!
Advanced Harmony: The author gives his students tips on the styles of composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as post-tonal composers up to serialism. He also gives better instructions in some areas of tonality where I think Aldwell and Schachter are missing. Again, this text is somewhat old and does not even go back to the mid-20th century, it does not include jazz.
Harmony and Voice-Leading: Essentially a basic text for harmony in most universities and conservatories today. The only issue I have with this book is that it is sometimes a bit too complex and difficult for many to understand. That said, it is a book to learn how to write parts; it doesn't really focus on many other kinds of harmony, including keyboard harmony, and it doesn't go beyond tonal harmony in its instructions.
Melodia: Unlike most other authors, Cole and Lewis start early on with modulation on related keys with a step motion, and then with modulation on more foreign keys - again with a step motion. Only then do they begin to introduce jumps to the student, who will experience the singing accidentals within a single key.
A Handbook of Diction for Singers: An amazing book for diction in the "big 3" singing languages; although written from the perspective of an American English speaker, it is still easy to use by other English speakers.
The Study of Counterpoint: Before students try their hand at writing parts and harmony of the keys, I think it is important to master the genre counterpoint. This is a text that has been used for hundreds of years, and learning from Fux you read from the same text that Leopold Mozart taught his son.
Just play a note on the piano, and try to reproduce the note perfectly (use a tenor to see if you're hitting the right note). When you'll get use to, try to play random combination of notes on the piano then try to reproduce it. Do it every day, and you'll be amazed by the result, you'll be absolutely on pitch.
I used to do that, now i have a good sense of pitch, i can tell if i'm hitting the right notes and if i'm off of tune. I even kinda memorized the note and can approximatively guess a note that I sing by a semitone.
Here's my take on this. If you want to improve your singing without personal voice lessons, I recommend joining a choir with a strict choir director. They will pull you out and tell you what you need to do to sing safely like aligning and lessening throat singing.
If you want to pursue singing, then you should get a personal vocal teacher so they can teach you. Sure online videos can help, but learning singing in real life is better.
I highly recommend a teacher because reading can only do so much. You have to be extremely careful because nodes are not hard to get. With that said, go to singwise.com. Karyn is a badass who knows all the science behind it, and she even has a youtube channel with a lot of material there. She also gives skype lessons so theres that.
Again, please be careful, and also do not raise your larynx when you raise your pitch. I am currently recovering from nodes because of that right now. Discover the laryngeal tilt and develop healthy head voice musculature, and do not press your phonation. Basically, just read everything on singwise.com. Every last bit. And then see if a trained singer can give you pointers in person for free every now and then. Good luck!
It's actually called amusia.
Take that test and find out if you're amusic/ actually tone deaf.
If you're not you can definitely learn to sing. I think what the person above you is saying is that, EVERYONE (unless you have amusia,) can sing on key - however only certain people have a voice that people would enjoy listening to. And to be honest I don't agree with that sentiment, as long as you don't sound like you've smoked 50 packs of cigs a day and have no teeth, then you're going to find people who will enjoy your singing/ unique voice. Just maybe don't put all your eggs in the singing as a career basket.
Vocal science says that there are three registers; fry, modal, and whistle/flageolet. Fry is achieved by bringing the arytenoid cartilages together in a way that compacts the vocal cords and allows tiny bubbles of air to escape. Modal is the "natural" phonation method, whereby the singer lengthens the vocal cords and thins the edges of them that meet each other more as the pitch climbs higher.
Flageolet/whistle is when the singer stiffens the cords and blows through them like a whistle. Registers within modal (falsetto, chest, head, mix) are simply the result of singing with a piece of proper modal phonation missing or incomplete. Chest is a failure to thin the contact point of the vibrating cords while still achieving full adduction. Falsetto is incomplete adduction. Mix and head would be variants of these two factors combined.
Your concept of it is really really common though, and is a perfectly reasonable way to learn how to sing. Voice is full of weird shit like that. Lots of mental concepts that have no basis in the science but work anyway to get students making attractive, healthy sounds. As I learn more about voice science, though, these shorthands start to make a lot more sense.
The reason the concept of blending registers works, for example, is that most people have a much easier time creating a relaxed vocal tract when singing with incomplete adduction, so the idea of gently pulling an adducted chest voice into a relaxed falsetto (or pulling a relaxed falsetto down into a chest sound) is often a great way for a student to fully "get their cords together" without tensing up as they climb higher.
You hit a roof. Same thing is happening with my guitar playing right now. I just feel like I'm doing the same things over and over again, and I'm not actually getting better. And it really sucks. And the worst part? The only solution is to keep at it. You've just got to keep going to your lessons and keep practicing. It sounds like you've already gotten a lot better. Give it another six months and you're going to realize you're way better than you were half a year ago, and nearly unrecognizable from the way you were when you first started.
I would recommend going to a vocal teacher if you really want to bring your singing to the next level. Again, to reference my guitar playing, I did the same, and it really helped me out. Still, it won't be an immediate thing, but if you do decide to get a teacher, you should see results pretty quickly, especially if you're in a rut right now.
Don't be so hard on yourself. The fact that you know the areas you need to improve on and even an idea on whats hindering you and how to fix it means you're already on your way to getting better at singing. But, and sorry if it sounds like I'm nagging, that desire to achieve a certain level of singing before you go to a teacher is something that is holding you back. Why? Because, chances are, you'll never achieve that 'certain level'.
Whenever you get to the level you were aiming for originally, you'll say 'I can get a bit better' or 'I'm still not good enough' and you aim for a next level on your own. Rinse and repeat. What you've got to realize is there are very few professional vocal teachers out there who haven't experienced just about every level of student, from full blown operatic singers who just want to fine tune a few things, to beginners who can't sing in anything other than the chest.
You already have an advantage over them, what with being able to sing in different registers and do a smooth bridge. While it's up to you to decide what you want to do, I would highly recommend just taking a lesson or two to see what the teacher is like and to get some feedback. And if you like it, great. If you don't, then there's no need to keep on with that teacher. You can find a different one or continue with singing by yourself. Food for thought.
Here's some helpful things I learned along the way:
Sustain vowels only.
Practice producing consonant sounds with as little tension as possible.
Singing the right note is more important than timbre.
Sustain the note a little longer than you think you need to and don't let the pitch fall off at the end.
Also males have a harder time because their voice changes. Im in my thirties and it still seems to get deeper every year.
I was trying to hit on a girl who was going to choir. She said it's a beginners choir and the choir master would tell me how to sing, so it didn't matter that I had never sung before.
So we arrive, I do the tryouts with the choir master and she says this:
That was horrible. Sorry, you have a nice voice actually, but this was just terrible, you didn't hit a single note. You don't really have any talent either. I could work with you because of the voice, but this was just really bad.
This mixture of "nice voice" and "my ears are bleeding because you sang so wrong" continued for the next 5 minutes. Weird lady, I thought.
Yes. I checked the clock.
I ended up falling in love with her best friend, who also loves singing. I downloaded some app which teaches you relative pitch, and a tuner app to practice the solfege. After 3 months practice I signed up for singing lessons and got far enough now with half a year of practice that I can at least sing along right-ish.
Yes you can learn how to sing. Just practice every day. It does get easier and better. But you have to do it consistently.