How Long till I'm Good?

People often ask me, "how long till I'll be able to sing well?" The answer to this really depends on what one means by "sing well."

Here is a list of steps in the process of mastering singing. What's your starting level? How far do you want to go?

I’ll be adding articles about each step, over time.

Pre-beginner Singers:

  1. Can you match pitch?
  2. Can you find some kind of high and low register?

Beginner Singers:

  1. Can you sing with a clean tone in your chest voice?
  2. Can you connect your chest voice to your next register without flipping into a breathy tone?
  3. Can you do this on an easy song?
  4. Can you sing through a couple octaves, on easy vowels, without going breathy or blasting?

Intermediate Singers:

  1. Can you sing over a large range, with most or all vowels without becoming breathy or blasting?
  2. Can you sustain a medium range note with beautiful tone, and no tension?
  3. Can you do this on a more difficult song?

Advanced Singers:

  1. Can you sustain higher notes with beautiful tone, no strain, and no pitch issues?
  2. Can you sustain higher notes on most or all vowels without getting tense? i.e. can you sing beautifully?
  3. Can you do this on a challenging song?
  4. Can you sing songs beautifully, not just in lessons, but at auditions and on stage?

Expert Singers:

  1. Can you sing well in more than one style?
  2. Can you sing well for several songs in a row?
  3. Can you sing well for several sets in a row?
  4. Can you do this higher and better than the singers you’re auditioning against?
  5. Can you do this eight shows a week, or on tour, without developing vocal fatigue?
  6. Can you do this eight shows a week, or on tour for several decades without developing vocal fatigue?

The list of skills to master isn't endless, but it's long enough to explain why, even if things are moving very fast, improving one's singing can take a while.

Other Questions You Could Ask:

These questions may help you sort out whether you're on track or not:

  • Do I understand what I'm working on and why, each lesson?
  • Do I feel the tools and exercises I've been given at my last lesson give me a good shot at improving, if I practise?
  • If I listen to a lesson from four months ago, do I feel that I've improved noticeably, since then?

If you feel that you know what you're practising and why, and that you've improved over the past four months (assuming you practise 4-5 times a week), that's a good sign that your lessons are effective.