Are Good Singers Born Or Made?

Not everyone is an amazing singer, but are you born with talent or can you learn it?

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Until the publication of vocal coach and anatomist William Vennard's book, "Singing, the Mechanism and the Technique," in 1967, people generally believed that the ability to sing was a gift that someone was innately born with. By studying vocal anatomy, and himself being an opera singer, he was able to develop teaching techniques that helped develop a singer's ability. Of course, that doesn't mean that anyone can be a singer. Vennard believed that singing is not a "natural" skill, but an art. Vocal cords are muscles and practice makes them stronger. A study by the University of Montreal found that one-fifth of non-musicians couldn't control their vocal muscles well, and 35 percent couldn't match their voice to a note being played. But both musicians and non-musicians were able to listen to and match a pitch using a slide instrument. Only five percent couldn't tell the difference in pitch.

A study in the journal PlosONE looked at the brain activity of people listening to music. They found that music processing mostly uses the speech center, but relies on other parts of the brain too. Human song vocalization is a big part of our culturosocial development. Groups of humans sing together to bond, worship, celebrate, and just for fun. Social groups that valued singing may have looked for musical characteristics in their mates. This is supported by a study in the Journal of Medical Genetics which linked mutations on chromosomes 4q22 and 8q13-21 to musical ability. Further studies have found these genes can influence perception, memory and even participation in music.

A study in Medical News Daily found that being raised in an encouraging or musical environment will affect your confidence, inherent skill level interest and ultimately, abilities. What do you think? Are some people just born with musical ability or is it encouraged through childhood and developed with practice and encouragement? Please share your thoughts in the comments down below.

Learn More:

Singing Tips: Have A Certain Skull Shape, And Other Science Behind Carrying A Tune (Medical Daily)
"Singing is a beautiful yet complicated art form, and although we all possess the ability to sing at some level, the ability to sing well is based on a number of physical, mental, and environmental factors."

A frog in your throat or in your ear? Searching for the causes of poor singing (NCBI)
"Singing is a cultural universal and an important part of modern society, yet many people fail to sing in tune. Many possible causes have been posited to explain poor singing abilities; foremost among these are poor perceptual ability, poor motor control, and sensorimotor mapping errors."