I suppose good is a difficult word to justify and determine. What does being a good singer mean? And, of course, in what context? Are there ways to tell if you’re a good singer?
- Good Within Your Particular Genre?
- What Is Your Genre?
- Some Basic Measurements
- Can you sing in tune?
- Do you have a good vocal range?
- Can you hold a note?
- Have you got control over your voice?
- Can you harmonize with other singers?
- Personal Evaluation
- Record Yourself
- Check Your Vocal Range
- Finding The Vocal Range
- Feedback From Friends or Family
- Unbiased Opinions
- Plenty Of Negatives
- Here Come The Positives
- An Honest and Unbiased Appraisal
- What You Need To Improve and How To Do That
- Make Accurate Assessments Of Your Singing Technique
- Evaluate Your Tone Sensitivity
- A Session Review
- Practice Makes Perfect
- So, Where To Next?
- No Stone Unturned
- Resources for Aspiring Singers
- Is Singing In Your Soul?
- Ways to Tell if You’re a Good Singer
Good Within Your Particular Genre?
The genre and style you sing can play a big part in answering the question. And there are literally hundreds of genres. Identifying that is important to help you decide how good you are at singing.
I wouldn’t call Mick Jagger a good singer. His tone is raspy, and he spends a lot of time off-pitch. But is he good for the Rolling Stones? Does that make him a ‘good’ singer or just a good ‘frontman’? And what about Bob Dylan? The same applies, though most might agree he is a poet before he is a singer.
The same applies to many rock bands. Some of those that front them are not what you might call good singers. But they are good at fronting their bands. Sometimes people confuse the two. But we are talking here about singing, not acting, with a bit of vocals.
There are exceptions
Every now and then, you will come across a frontman who does have a good voice. Freddie Mercury was certainly one. He sang just about everything, including opera, and did it well. Another is Jon Bon Jovi, who has a stunning vocal range of 4.7 octaves.
But, as I say, your genre will have an influence. To sing Country music and to sing Opera are two rather different things. Being very good in one doesn’t mean you will be good in the other.
What Is Your Genre?
So, this has to be the first question. The level of ‘good’ will be different for most genres, and there is a range of ability levels as you move through them.
I might say to you that you are a very good blues singer, but a terrible opera singer. You could be a good punk rock singer but an awful balladeer.
But let us assume you know what your genre is and the kinds of songs you like to sing; how can you tell if you are any good?
Some Basic Measurements
There are plenty of ways to tell if you’re a good singer. However, the measurements you use must be relevant. You will see the following as suggestions to help you decide:
- Can you sing in tune?
- Do you have a good vocal range?
- Can you hold a note?
- Have you got control over your voice?
- Can you harmonize with other singers?
Let’s take a quick look at those questions in terms of evaluating whether you are a good singer.
Can you sing in tune?
A prerequisite, you might think, and you would be right. But, we have already mentioned one well-known singer who can struggle in that area occasionally. It will depend on what genre you are in. For most styles, though, the answer will be definitely, yes.
Do you have a good vocal range?
Again, and I am going to say this statement a lot, it depends on the genre. If you are planning to sing Opera, then that is a must. For other styles, usually not so important. And for music like American Country & Western, the range need only be ordinary.
What is ordinary?
If you are starting, you would expect to be able to sing about three octaves. That equates to about 40 notes, including sharps and flats. As you practice correctly and improve, you would expect to be able to extend that a little.
But, when I say ‘sing’ three octaves, I am not considering screaming your head off to hit the high notes. Three octaves with a decent tone that isn’t strained is a good starting point.
Can you hold a note?
You may get asked that question if anyone comes to evaluate you. The answer is, for how long? Two seconds, ten seconds, twenty seconds. There is quite a difference, though it might not sound like much.
Operas singers and other classically trained singers can hold notes for amazing lengths of time. They have to. The music demands it. With the average pop song, it is not so much.
If you can hold the pitch of a note for five seconds, then that is a decent starting point. But it will depend on the pitch. If it is at the very top or very bottom of your range, it may only be three seconds.
Have you got control over your voice?
By that, I mean can you sing the same tune either quietly or loudly. Can you change the emotional status in how you sing it? Being able to change the volume or the emotional style is a very important skill to learn.
You wouldn’t necessarily be able to do that particularly well if you are just starting out. But it is something you will need to learn.
Can you harmonize with other singers?
This is more of a technical question than anything else. Understanding harmony and how it works is a theoretical process. Most singers can hear the harmony line to another singer’s vocal and then pitch in.
But, again, it is a genre thing. You might never have the need to do it. But, it is still a very important skill to learn how to perform, and one that will help your overall performance.
So, that is a lot of comments and outlines, but how do you know if you’re a good singer? Or at least have a chance of becoming one? There are some things you can do.
This can be difficult to do depending on ‘you.’ If you are by nature a very positive person, then that might reflect in your judgment. The same thing can apply in reverse. And you may already have formed a preconceived opinion of yourself and your ability.
Personal evaluation can be useful, providing you can be objective, but that can be difficult when you are assessing yourself. Knowing the strengths and the weaknesses you have is an important step forward if you can reach realistic assessments.
You can do that using a backing track of the sort of song you think you should sing. There are plenty to download. Practice the song a bit, then record it and listen.
Try not to be overly critical of the results. But also don’t try and hide what are obvious mistakes. Having performed this initial stage, there are other things you can do.
Check Your Vocal Range
This is something that you really need to do quite early on. As I have already said, the vocal range is only important when it is relevant to the genre you intend to sing.
You will read other people say it is a good measure of whether you are a great singer. That’s unrealistic. You are not a great singer yet, or you would not be reading this. You want to be a great singer.
So, your vocal range now is a measure and not the end result. Just because that range is not wide now doesn’t mean it won’t become so. Test it yourself and where you are now. Find the lowest note you can comfortably sing and then the highest. Remember, no screaming.
Finding The Vocal Range
Find those notes on a piano keyboard. Once you have identified them, count the ‘white’ notes between them and then divide that number by eight. That will give you your vocal range.
Make a note of it and see how it improves over the next few months. It should start to get wider, which means so is your vocal range. And finally, your self-assessment might benefit from one last activity.
Feedback From Friends or Family
Again, with due respect to whoever you ask, it could be unreliable information. They may not want to upset you by saying they don’t think you are very good. Or they may want to do that by saying the same thing.
Would they know a good singer if they heard one? Most wouldn’t. So, while it can be an interesting exercise, you can’t make your decisions based on what they may or may not say.
Could Their Comments Affect You?
It could do, and not always in a positive way. Let me give you an example. My older sister studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. One of the world’s most prestigious music schools, she was there on a scholarship. She played piano.
Also, being a musician, but not on piano, I would seek out her opinion of my own standing. The phrases that came back were usually ‘very poor’ and once even ‘rubbish.’ She based her opinions of me on what she saw every day during her own studies.
But that was unrealistic…
I didn’t think for one moment I was like them. I wasn’t a classical musician for a start. But it had an effect.
That effect lasted for many years and still crops up today at the back of my mind. It probably stopped me from getting jobs I might have been suitable for. Sometimes take these comments with a pinch of salt.
The point is it could be a positive thing to hear what others think; just don’t rely too much on their comments. An unbiased opinion is one of the best things you could get.
But these people are not unbiased. They are not being dishonest with you, just probably unable to judge. Or possibly just don’t want to upset you.
And one last point on the subject of ‘feedback.’ Don’t even think about going anywhere near a karaoke party to garner support and opinions. That is a disaster waiting to happen if you are looking for an unbiased critique of your performance.
Plenty Of Negatives
Thus far, I have not painted a particularly encouraging picture of ways to tell if you are a good singer. But, this is where we get positive and move into reality.
So, let me ask you a question, “Do you really want to know if you are a good singer?” If you don’t want to know the answer, it’s time to move on, but if you do, then here is how.
Here Come The Positives
If you have a pet that is sick, from whom do you get an opinion? The veterinary surgeon, of course. You want to buy a car but don’t know enough about them to know if it’s a good buy or not. Who do you ask to go with you? A car mechanic.
If you want to know if you can sing, then you go to a professional, a vocal coach. Seek the opinion of an expert. What will they give you?
- An honest and unbiased appraisal of where you stand at that time.
- What you need to do to improve and how best to achieve that.
- Make accurate assessments of your singing technique.
- Evaluate your tone sensitivity.
- Identify a practice program, highlighting the areas that need to be addressed.
Let’s consider those benefits a little closer.
An Honest and Unbiased Appraisal
Here is someone that knows what they are doing and, more importantly, what they are listening to. They have no biases to influence their options.
They will give you an honest and down-to-earth assessment of your singing ability at that time. However, if you go to see them, make sure you are ready to accept what they say. Walking out the door after having been told it’s no good saying ”what do they know” is not what you should be doing.
What You Need To Improve and How To Do That
There will be things you need to improve. It will almost certainly be most things. But, the coach will address the important things first. You will need the foundations for creating your voice. They will identify what needs to be built.
Furthermore, they will offer advice on how to make those improvements which is something that will be very important. It’s one thing identifying a problem. But you also need the solution.
Make Accurate Assessments Of Your Singing Technique
This will be all about stance, breathing, relaxation, and the use of all aspects of your body to achieve a good and accurate sound. Once again, they may give you exercises to improve all of those areas. Posture in singing is very important.
Evaluate Your Tone Sensitivity
The coach will be able to assess your understanding of the important elements. Pitch, timing, and tone will all be commented on.
They will probably give you ‘tone-matching’ exercises, like ‘hit this note,’ to assess natural abilities. Having a good sense of pitch and tone means you may develop your singing ability at a faster rate.
A Session Review
Many vocal coaches who undertake assessments will give you a written report. This will highlight areas you need to work on. They may even suggest the techniques to be used to maximize your practice sessions.
This review will include comment, vocal warm-ups before practice, length of practice time, using your diaphragm, and breathing properly.
Practice Makes Perfect
No, it definitely does not! That is a total fallacy. ‘Good’ practice makes perfect. Just practice or bad practice does nothing. It’s one of the most important ways to tell if you’re a good singer.
All practice sessions must be conducted properly with a set time limit and set goals of what you want to achieve. Not setting the goals too high is another thing the coach might advise you on.
I do not consider driving your car singing along to your favorite song practice. That is ‘bad’ practice. Where is the concentration in the diaphragm, breathing, pitch, and intonation? Do it for pleasure, by all means, but don’t fool yourself. It is not ‘practice.’
So, Where To Next?
From my perspective, the answer to improving your singing will be if you get on well with your vocal coach, sign up with them. If you are on a budget, you just take as many lessons as you can afford. The advantage is that you will have a professional on ‘your team.’
You can try and learn from online singing courses, books, and instructional videos. But that only goes so far. There is nothing that can beat face-to-face contact, appraisal, and recommendation.
No Stone Unturned
They will set up everything for you, including your own practice sessions, and monitor your progress. If something isn’t working, they will help. They will know when you are ready to take the next step, and they can constantly advise.
And they will not let you get away with avoiding any of the lingering problems that we all have occasionally. A good teacher will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to make you as good as you can be.
Resources for Aspiring Singers
You can assess yourself all you want and garner the options of friends and family. But it will be a professional that can really tell you if you are a good singer. And that is what you want to know.
Of course, you are going to need more than just private lessons. And these might help to support your learning program:
- Teach Yourself to Sing: A Systematic Approach
- Teach Yourself To Sing: Essential Information For Great Success In Singing
- First 15 Lessons – Voice (Pop Singers’ Edition)
And when you are ready to hit the stage, you need one of the best microphones. The Shure SM58LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone has been used by some of the biggest names in music for live performances. And it isn’t expensive.
Is Singing In Your Soul?
We have you covered. Take a look at our handy articles on Types of Vocal Timbre, the Best Vocal Range Test Apps and Websites, the Best Daily Vocal Exercises for Singers, the Top Professional Vocal Coaches on YouTube, and What Does it Mean if a Singer is Classically Trained for more information.
Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best Microphone Stands, and the Best Tablet Holders for Mic Stands you can buy in 2022.
Ways to Tell if You’re a Good Singer
Are you singing for fun or as a pro? Whatever your aims, knowing where to start is important. And knowing how good you are at singing at the outset is necessary for your development as a singer. Whatever level you are at, you can improve. Of that, there is no doubt.
But, if there is one piece of advice I can lay on you, it is this. Sing from the heart. Feel the song and the music, and that will inspire you to produce a performance.
Until next time, let yourself be heard.