Learning to sing isn’t the obvious hobby to take up in 2021. We’re all stuck at home, and it sometimes seems like singing has been banned completely as long as covid is in our lives. Sometimes it can even seem overwhelming to consider doing anything new while we’re locked down and struggling with working from home and homeschool.
Singing has all kinds of benefits that make it ideal to pick up in lockdown. Singing has been found to improve mood, help with learning, and benefit lung function. There are researchers even looking at how singing can help people recovering from Covid. It’s something that can fit into the busiest lives – you can see progress in only ten minutes a day of simple exercises.
So if you want to get more singing in your life right now, how on earth can you do that?
The best option
If you can run to it, find a teacher. The vast, vast, majority of teachers are delivering lessons online via video conferencing platforms (I’m using Zoom). Online lessons are easy, flexible and can fit in well with a WFH schedule.
You can look for a teacher who will be able to offer you face to face lessons in the future, or find someone who is happy to teach online long-term. The pandemic has opened up flexibility the music education sector too.
When choosing a teacher, there are a couple of things to look for. Check out the qualifications someone has – look for a music degree in voice or diploma in teaching, or plenty of experience teaching. Choose a teacher who is a member of a professional body like ISM or the MU, which provide them with insurance, training and legal support.
Google will show you teachers in your nearby area, but of course, won’t provide any assurance of quality. Try The Association of Teachers of Singing directory or Musicteachers.co.uk for specialist listings which include information about qualifications and prices. Teachers will charge in the region of £30/hour upwards (the sky is the limit for a highly saught-after teacher!). A teacher charging substantially less than this is likely to be poorly qualified or inexperienced.
Once you’ve shortlisted some teachers, get in touch with them to find out more about the styles of music they offer, what kind of interests they have and, of course, to check they have a time that suits you.
If you’re based in Edinburgh or want to long-term online lessons, sign up to find out more about lessons.
The community option
Join a choir!
Join a choir! Like vocal teachers, many choirs have moved online and are running rehearsals as usual. It’s not quite the same as IRL – you can’t sing with others – but choir leaders are finding all kinds of creative ways to keep us all singing. It’s also an opportunity to see more people, and will make it less daunting to join a rehearsal in person as you’ll know a few names and faces.
Each choir has its own vocal style, pricing and entry requirements. If you’re new to singing, look for a choir that is open to all, with no auditions.
The budget option
If you’re struggling to afford lessons right now, there’s still a wealth of opportunities to get singing at home. One of the best YouTube channels out there is New York Vocal Coaching’s Voice Lessons to the World. I have used these videos myself and happily direct students to them for support with specific issues. This video series is free, and clearly explains healthy technique in an accessible way.
I also love the Jacobs Vocal Academy channel which has loads of free videos of vocal warm-ups and exercises. Choose one of the ones labelled beginner, and drop out if the exercise gets too high or too low.
Once you are feeling more confident with your technique and understanding, you can try searching for songs you want to sing plus “karaoke” for backing tracks without vocals on. There are also loads of sites out there where you can get hold of sheet music as a pdf, download mp3s of piano accompaniments, or even a whole package of tools including pronunciation guides, tracked melodies and more.
If you have pre-school or primary aged kids at home, try the NYCOS Creative Learning songs and games so you can all enjoy the benefits of singing and have some fun in the process. Some games need a couple of plastic cups or small balls.
A word of warning: like with everything else, YouTube has wonderful teaching videos, and terrible ones! If you’re not sure, do a quick search for the name of the teacher presenting it and have a look at their website for more about their qualifications and experience in the same way you would if you were considering taking lessons with them.
2021 and beyond
With the vaccine roll-out, we all have everything crossed that 2021 will mean a return to community singing, face-to-face music education, and most importantly JOY for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore singing while we’re in lockdown, or want to wait until things have improved, music will be there to help lift your spirits.
Want to learn now? Sign up for lessons.