How Long Will It Take To Learn How To Sing – HERE’S HOW LONG IT’S TAKING ME! Last week I received this comment on a Youtube video. “Take a gun and blow your head off you sound like sh**.” In this video, I’ll talk about my journey and progress as a singer, performer and teacher to help you answer the question how long will it take to learn how to sing!
Hi! I’m Chuck Gilmore, International Vocal Coach and Founder of Power To Sing.
Each week I teach you lessons in vocal technique so you can build a powerful and confident singing voice. So you don’t miss out, please subscribe to my channel, Power To Sing. Be sure to click on the bell so you can be notified when I post special videos for you each week!
When I read the comment that said I sounded like fecal matter, I didn’t take it too seriously. I didn’t sing in the video he commented on, I only demonstrated head voice and falsetto. Maybe that did sound…..poopy…., well at least “falsetto…y”
However, his comment made me reflect on my singing journey as a singer and teacher.
Here’s my singing timeline. Compare your training, experience, and progress to mine. Where are you in your journey? Are there some similarities between us?
I’ll review, in bullet highlights, fours areas of singing development. These areas are: Skill Development, Experience Summary, Technical Understanding, and Confidence.
High School – Missionary Service – College
- I took private voice lessons for two years during high school from a well known and respected singer and teacher who had a Masters in Vocal Performance.
- I could not sing above the E4.
- I was told if I wasn’t born with vibrato, I didn’t have it.
- I was in concert choir and madrigals for 3 years.
- I had the lead role as King Arthur in Camelot in 11th grade.
- In 12th grade I had the supporting lead as Enoch Snow in Carousel.
- My madrigals toured Europe for three weeks.
- Sang in the Brigham Young University Oratorio Choir
Our European tour included official concerts in Frankfurt, Zurich, Rome and London. Unofficially we sang everywhere we went. We even sang for our airline passengers. We had an unscheduled overnight stop in Ireland for repairs on our PanAm 747.
That night we put on a 2-hour impromptu performance for our fellow passengers in the dinning hall of our hotel in Ireland. It may have been our best concert of the summer.
- Don’t push my voice too hard
- Diaphragmatic breathing.
- No understanding of my voice.
- I had confidence as a singer and performer on stage with an ensemble.
- As a soloist, I was afraid of any note beginning with the D4 above Middle C.
- Major fail singing a solo in church
- Stopped singing solos
- Lost complete confidence in my singing voice. I didn’t like my tone quality, I couldn’t sing above the E4, I had no vibrato.
I was a music major my first year of college. I left for two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. While serving in Santa Barbara, CA, I had a major “fail” singing a solo for the 1972 Christmas Program. I was so embarrassed I didn’t sing a solo again. I told myself I was a choir singer, but not a soloist.
When I returned to college, because of my discouragement with my voice, I decided not to major in music. However, I sang in the University Oratorio Choir for several years.
December 1978 – 1996:
Skill Development: None
Experience Summary: Occasional Church Choir (never a soloist)
Technical Understanding: Zip…Nada.
First Ten Months of Vocal Training
December 1996-September 1997
- Attended vocal workshop with Seth Riggs.
- Voice lessons with Seth Riggs Associate, Debra Bonner. Trained to be her associate teacher and a Seth Rigg Associate.
- I sang a solo for the first time in 25 years. It was in a group singing class and also in front of an audience in a Seth Riggs workshop.
- Two voice lessons with Seth Riggs in Los Angeles.
- Sang vocal exercises from chest to head voice with a connected tone.
- Increased my range in the exercises. Also sang an F above middle C in a solo.
- Developed vibrato. (I felt this and increased range were miracles! I was very excited)
- Began training to be a voice teacher
- My understanding of my singing voice was still in the beginning stages.
- Couldn’t hear pulled chest vs mix in my voice or in other singers.
- Little comprehension of mix. I wasn’t sure when I was in mix and when I wasn’t.
- Confused about Falsetto vs Head Voice
- Increased enough to start auditioning for community theater.
Two Years Without Lessons
October 1997-January 2000
- No lessons
- I began auditioning for musical theater, (my first love)
- Cast in 9 shows with 2 solo singing roles, Tin Man, Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Bazzard, Mystery of Edwin Drood.
- Listening regularly to the cassette tapes from the book, Singing For the Stars, by Seth Riggs.
- Through experimentation with my head voice, discovered the difference between my falsetto and my head voice.
- Even though I had two singing roles during this period, my confidence remained about the same.
8 Year Vocal Development
January 2000 – Mid-Year 2008
Studied regularly (interspersed with time off during shows, etc.) with Speech Level Singing Master Teacher, Dean Kaelin.
Here’s part of a resume that I gave to Dean when I applied to study with him.
Do any of these goals sound similar to yours? Let me know in the comments section below this Youtube video if you can relate!
What I Hope to Accomplish Studying Voice
- Increase my confidence in singing, especially in solo work.
- Find a “niche” for my voice and its quality.
- Answer the questions: What can I do well? What do I need to work on. What are the limitations to my voice?
- Develop consistency and control in pitch and quality. I feel like my voice falls in between half-tones.
- More fully understand my vocal technique…when I am in head verses chest verses mix.
- Broaden my vocal horizons, sing different things, and be able to audition well.
- I want to win more solo roles in musical theater.
- Cast in more singing roles, including, Don Quixote, Man of LaMancha; Captain Hook, Peter Pan; Ben Rumson, Paint Your Wagon; Fagan, Oliver; John Dickinson, 1776; The Duke, Big River; Marley’s Ghost, A Christmas Carol; and Twimble, How to Succeed in Business.
- Fewer limitations to my voice and improved in tone quality and pitch.
- Learned when I was in chest and head voice.
- The feeling of mix and the comfort level with my mix voice was growing, but I still felt uncertain about my mix.
- Although improving, still lacked confidence and strength in my head voice in songs.
- During this time of study with Dean, I developed much more confidence in my voice and my technique. The many roles in which I was cast helped me find my niche as a character actor and singer.
Teaching Speech Level Singing
January 2008 – 2010
- In 2008 I began certification as a Speech Level Singing Instructor.
- Studied with various Master SLS teachers including, Seth Riggs, Kathy Kennedy, John Henny, Jeffrey Skouson, Greg Enriquez, Wendy Parr, Linda Tomkinson and Guy Babusek.
- May 2009 began teaching Speech Level Singing full time.
- Regular training meetings with Master Teachers, annual SLS Teacher Conferences
- Cast as Sir Danvers, Jekyll and Hyde; Peron, Evita; Captain Corcoran, HMS Pinafore
- Broadened and increase significantly through private lessons and vocal conferences.
Increasing confidence as a teacher, singer and performer.
Teacher-Singer Failure and Breakthrough
January 2011 – January 2013
- Failure with Seth: January 2011 I had an hour lesson with Seth. The first half, doing exercises, I was brilliant. The second half I sang a song and pulled chest and spread vowels. His first comment was: “I don’t know who’s letting you do that!” Then we spent the next 25 minutes narrowing vowels and fixing the song.
I set the goal to never let that happen again and resolved to study and practice more frequently to prepare for future lessons with Seth.
- In late summer of 2011 I had a breakthrough lesson with Greg Enriquez, Master SLS Teacher and mentor. In that lesson I experienced a feeling of a balanced voice without squeezing the vocal cords. For the first time I recognized the feeling of pressing into the condition of release, leaning on a sensation of resonance and not gripping or grabbing the vocal cords.
It’s hard to verbalize, but it had a huge impact on my singing. Interestingly, it took me about 3-5 more months of listening to the lesson repeatedly, recording and listening to my practice sessions with that same lesson, before I began to comprehend what I felt during the lesson.
- Daddy Warbucks, Annie; Scrooge, A Christmas Carol; Narrator-Mysterious Man, Into the Woods; Moonface Martin, Anything Goes.
- Practicing, and listening to my practicing, and more lessons with Greg, helped me begin to solidify my understanding of my voice and Speech Level Singing.
- I became able to produce a consistent tone in my chest, bridge (mix) and head voice so that it sounded like one voice.
- Attained a new confidence in my voice which helped me as a singer, performer and teacher.
May 2013 – August 2019
- Bi-annual, 5-day Vocal Boot-Camps with Seth Riggs.
These were the greatest teacher learning experiences. Small groups of 15-20 teachers striving to learn to teach like Seth. We watched Seth teach and he watched us teach. We were knee to knee with a master teacher. It’s hard to put into words the learning experience of these sessions.
After May 2016, the teacher training Boot Camps were discontinued.
- Captain Hook, Peter Pan (second time); The King, The King and I; Horace Vandergelder, Hello Dolly; Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (second time); John Dickinson, 1776 (second time); Alfred P. Doolittle, My Fair Lady.
- Broad understanding of singing and teaching technique producing results in my own voice and the voices of my students.
- Continually learning and growing in confidence in technique, teaching, singing and performing.
- 22 years (and counting) of study and improvement as a singer and teacher. This is a joyous lifetime pursuit that will never end.
- 41 shows (and counting) with many lead singing roles
- Created an exclusive Membership Group called Singers Impact
- Created Courses, Sing Higher Than Ever Before, Conquer Vibrato, and Master Your High Notes with more on the way
- Youtube Channel, Power To Sing, Begun in 2015 approaching 61,000 subscribers, with over 400 videos including 146+ live weekly broadcasts.
- 676 past and current students (and counting) in Utah and throughout the US and 25 countries worldwide have taught and are teaching me a great deal about singing.
- Ongoing mentorship with experienced voice teachers
- I continue to grow and learn from my students and fellow teachers everyday.
- Performing continues to be a love, passion, and joy that inspires me to help and teach others… and to keep doing shows.
Here are the lessons to learn from my experience.
It takes years to develop levels of expertise and artistry as a singer, performer and teacher. It’s never overnight.
Continuous improvement continues throughout your life. You’re always “refining and improving”.
Start singing and performing now and don’t wait for perfection. You’ll never be perfect. Your progress will be faster and your motivation higher by putting yourself out there in the arena.
No matter how great or how awful you think you are, you’ll always find someone better and someone worse.
Don’t waste time comparing yourself to everyone else. Control what you can control.
Enjoy your successes, learn from your failures and keep moving forward with new goals and dreams.
Depending on the level of your aspirations, you will progress significantly faster by paying teachers and mentors to help you improve as a singer and performer, if YOU put in the work. The bigger the goal, the more time and money you must invest and the harder you work.
Lastly, don’t worry if someone tells you your voice sounds like poop. What do they know? Chances are very good, they have no idea what they’re talking about.
To help YOU improve YOUR singing voice, I’ve created a special test to help you discover your vocal type so you can do exercises tailored for your individual needs as a singer so you can improve rapidly. Follow these steps.
One. Download this PDF, Get Your Vocal Type. Get it here or in the description below this Youtube video.
Two. Follow the links on the PDF and take the vocal test. The vocal test will help you discover your vocal type. Your vocal type describes what you tend to do when you sing through the bridge.
Three. Watch the videos about your vocal type and watch demonstrations of exercises for your vocal type, so you can get faster results.
Four. Download the exercises for your vocal type and start practicing them. These exercises, designed for your vocal type, will help you make immediate improvement with your singing voice.
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I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power to Sing. You can sing higher with beauty, confidence and power.
I’ll see you inside the next video.