This is a question we get asked all the time, especially when it come to new enquiries. Obviously, it’s quite a hard question to answer! But I can completely understand why a prospective student would ask it.
The answer depends on the following…
1. Where You Start.
This absolutely doesn’t mean how much singing experience you’ve had. Take yours truly as an example… When I really discovered good vocal technique, I’d been singing professionally for years. But I’d been doing it really badly. So badly, that my voice was in ultimate fatigue and I was baffled as to what was happening to me. It took a very long time for me to ‘un-do’ all my bad habits and re-train, under the guidance of a few instructors, to sing correctly.
As a contrast, take someone who has no experience and, therefore, no bad habits. With just a few lessons, some basic technique cues and regular practice, they can improve quite quickly.
2. Natural Ability
Just like some people naturally have great drawing or dancing or football technique, so do singers! As a singer who has had to work incredibly hard to have the technique I have today, I find it so frustrating that some people just open their mouths and sound amazing with very little training AND they use safe and enduring technique. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to have the voice I have now… and guess what? It still needs improvement. But that doesn’t mean that these natural genius singers can’t improve and extend themselves with more training.
3. Your exposure to musicality.
Some people are just naturally ‘musical’. Others have been exposed to music their whole lives and don’t even realise how much they know and understand about music. But over my ten years as a voice coach, one thing I’ve noticed is that those who come from musical families OR who have played a musical instrument in the past, tend to start a little ahead of those with no musical background what so ever. As vocalists, we need to be able to hear the beat, so we can place our melody correctly. We need to hear and understand if we sing notes outside of the key the song is written in. So beginning to sing with even an unknown understanding of this can place you further along than those who are learning about music for the first time.
4. The Amount Of Time You Have To Practice.
As much as people hate to hear it, practice is key! Because when you take the content of your lesson and experiment with it, in your own space and time, that’s when the magic happens! And when it comes to learning voice, we are not only learning how to use our voices, we are also conditioning them for strength, agility, flexibility and stamina. So regular training will create muscle memory and enhance neural pathways, enabling our voice to become a state of the art instrument!
5. How badly you want it (your enthusiasm.)
Students start in all kinds of places. But I have to admit, my favourite type of student, is the one with an inherent passion to be the best they can be. No matter where they start. I’d rather teach someone with no musicality who comes to me unable to sing one note on pitch, BUT has the enthusiasm to improve. As opposed to a student who sounds amazing, but is really only learning because her friends and family tell her how good she is and so she thought she better have some lessons. But really doesn’t have the drive to practice or apply herself.
So what’s the answer?
Clearly it alters depending on all of the above factors. But as I tell all my students, we are all at different stages in our journey. There is no point in competing with those alongside us. Instead, to those who are behind us, remember what it was like and encourage them. To those who are ahead of us, be inspired by and learn from them.
So for those who would like a definitive answer… If you’re willing to apply yourself and practice regularly, I’d say you could see some great improvement from your starting point in approximately six months.
But the answer I prefer to give is that training to sing is a lifelong journey. If we stop training, the voice will lose it’s fitness. There is always more you can do, more you can learn, more you can discover and more goals you can set. As a singer of over 25 years, I still see many areas for my own improvement and growth.
Enjoy your journey!
Written by Clare Assetta
Owner and Principal Voice Coach of Freedom Music Studios