Okay, so you’re not the next Kelly Clarkson. You may not even be the next William Hung. When the universe was handing out singing talents, you were in the bathroom. All of that would be fine, except you’re here reading this for a reason. Maybe you have a performance coming up that you can’t get out of, or maybe you just reeeeeally wish you could sing. Whatever your reason, I’m going to give you all of my best singing tips for bad singers!
Singing Tips for People Who Can’t Sing
First, let’s acknowledge that there is a wide spectrum of singing talent. You might be completely tone-deaf, or you might just worry that you’re not “good enough” for something. I’m going to include tips that will work for anyone, regardless of where you fall on the scale.
If you’re not a great singer but are trying anyway, send me a tweet and let me know! I can give you personal singing tips if you need help:I suck at singing, but I'm going to keep trying! Click To Tweet
Here are my top singing tips for bad singers:
1). Focus on the Performance
Make your outfit amazing, move your body around (if you can dance, focus on that), just have a good time! The goal isn’t necessarily to distract people from your voice (although that won’t hurt), it’s just to give an enjoyable show. If your performance is dynamic and interesting, people will enjoy it that much more.
Even great singers aren’t fun to watch if they stand stiff as a board and stare at the floor (this is what I do, hence why I’m a session singer). A great performance makes a huge difference, whether you can sing or not!
William Hung is a great example of this. Dude could NOT sing, but he had such a fun, lovable energy that people didn’t care:
Did you know he’s actually released multiple albums?? Again, he can’t sing. He’s just very likable and people want to support him. There is literally no reason this can’t happen for you too! If releasing albums isn’t your goal and you’re just trying to perform a heartfelt song at your cousin’s wedding, people will still love your performance if you have (and give them) a good time.
2). Improve Your Listening Skills
There are many factors into what makes a great singer, so we’ll focus on tone here. Play one note on an instrument and really focus on hearing it. Now repeat it. Record yourself if possible. How close are you? If you continue to do this, I think you’ll definitely see an improvement over time (see tip 3 below).
Roger Burnley gives singing tips for bad singers, and he has a great hearing exercise in this video:
Another issue with your singing might be your timing. Perhaps you can’t seem to come in on time or get lost halfway through. Really listening to the rhythm and feeling the tempo is an easy way to improve your singing. Here is a video on how to improve your timing skills:
3). Record Yourself and Keep an Audio Diary
There is no better way to know how you really sound than to record it. If you’re not a strong singer, you likely sound way different in your head than you do in real life.
Make this a fun activity so you’ll keep up with it. Pick a song you love, or do the above mentioned tip and just record simple notes. Make it a weekly practice and review them over time. It’s easy to think you haven’t improved at all, but when you have a record of it, you’ll actually notice that you held a note stronger or got better with your pitch. This will be encouraging! It will also show you where you need extra support.
4). Study Artists with “Unique” Voices
There are plenty of famous artists whose talent is debatable. Not everyone loves every artist’s voice. I’m sure there are famous singers you don’t like, and I’m sure there are people you love that other people can’t stand. However, we’re going to focus on specific voices here.
Billie Holiday was well known for her unique voice. Many people hated it, but just as many loved it.
Technically speaking, there are many things she’s doing “wrong.” She frequently misses the correct pitch, she doesn’t belt or hold notes out, and her voice cracks often. Still, people love her, myself included. She’s unique, she’s emotive, and she draws you into the story.
Tom Waits is another example of a unique voice:
This isn’t even really “singing” so much as it is gravelly yelling, and yet people love it. Louis Armstrong is similar vocally.
If you have something similar to these artists, you can make it work to your advantage!
5). Improve Your Breathing
Breath support is crucial to singing, and a lot of “bad” singers don’t realize that this is where they actually struggle. Taking shallow breaths or not breathing correctly can lead to a variety of problems.
There are many exercises you can do to improve your breathing. I would write them out, but I feel like a visual would be easier so here is a helpful video from Singgeek:
6). Take Voice Lessons
This might seem obvious to some, but maybe you haven’t considered it because you think they only help people who are good. This is not true! A vocal coach is a great idea because they can analyze your specific voice and give you personalized tips to improve.
If you can’t find anyone in your area, there are online singing courses available! I took a Skype lesson with a coach here:
If you’re too nervous to work with an actual instructor, there are also online courses that aren’t one-on-one. I took Christina Aguilera’s singing course and reviewed it here, and I also took Matt Ramsey’s “Master Your Voice” class and reviewed it here.
Honestly though, for bad singers I do recommend personal voice lessons. You really need someone who can focus on your specific trouble areas and work with you from there. Anyone can give generic singing tips for bad singers, but a personal vocal coach can give you detailed tasks to improve your problems and can give instant feedback on whether or not it’s working.
7). Work on Your Confidence
When you go into something *knowing* that you’re not good at it, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
In 4th grade, we were playing kickball in gym class (my most hated class of all). I knew I sucked, I knew I wasn’t athletic, and I knew I would do a bad job. When it was my turn to kick, I had psyched myself up so bad that not only did I completely miss the ball, I swung my foot so high that my other foot lifted and I fell right on my butt in the sand.
After high school ended, I went to graduation parties and there was usually a volleyball game. Since I didn’t care about being good at sports anymore, I decided to play. I discovered I am actually pretty good at volleyball. Without the pressure of needing to be good, and a mindset of just having fun, I realized I’m far more athletic than I thought. I might still suck at kickball, but I never would have thought I was good at any sport before I tried one without pre-judging myself.
Instead of thinking “I suck at singing” or “This is going to be horrible,” I want you to go into this thinking “I’m going to enjoy myself” and “I’m expressing myself creatively.” Don’t place any expectations on yourself, good or bad. Allow the experience to be what it is, and you may just surprise yourself with what you can do!
8). Remember – They’re Only Opinions!
This is the most important one. Remember earlier we talked about how every famous singer has people who think they suck? I guarantee there will be a variety of different opinions about your singing. Some people might think your horrible, but other people won’t. They might be tone deaf also and won’t be able to tell. Some people will admire your confidence for trying, and some people might love the energy you put into your performance. Other people simply won’t care. Maybe they don’t like your genre of music, or they’re thinking about their tough day at work. In a room of 50 people, you can have 100 opinions about your voice (many people might think several of these things).
The point of singing is simply self-expression and to connect with others. Obviously being good at it helps, but if you’re having a good time and connecting with people, that’s all that really matters!
I hope these tips help! If you have any other singing tips for bad singers, or if you have other questions, please let me know in the comments!
Singing Tips for Bad Singers:
- Focus on the Performance
- Improve Your Listening Skills
- Record Yourself and Keep an Audio Diary
- Study Artists with “Unique” Voices
- Improve Your Breathing
- Hire a Personal Coach
- Work on Your Confidence
- Remember, They’re Only Opinions!