“Can I learn how to sing without playing an instrument?” Of course! While it would be satisfying to accompany yourself, there is no reason to feel limited by not knowing how to play an instrument or even how to read music. It’s easy to make excuses, but there are plenty of valid ways to practice singing. Often all you need is your voice, a powerful instrument in and of itself.
Much of the skill that defines being a good singer comes with a deep, technical control of your voice. This means making sure the basics, like breathing and posture, are mastered. You don’t need any music playing to work on mindful breathing, a strong, comfortable stance and basic warm-ups like humming and lip trills. These are skills you can work on any time and any place, so you don’t even need a music room, much less an instrument, to do this type of practice. Once you have these skills under your command, the rest will come quite easily.
When you want to start singing, there are endless resources available for playing notes for your warm ups or finding backing tracks for a full song. Applications like Virtual Piano or Virtual Guitar contain helpful tutorials for how to create the sounds you need. To start learning a song, there’s nothing wrong with just singing along with the original recording. In fact, sometimes there’s no better way to learn a song than by trying to mimic the original singer! You can also find almost any instrumental or karaoke version of a song on YouTube and other video sites. Much of these resources are free, along with being accessible and easy to use. Some accounts will even take requests for producing new karaoke tracks for their followers.
If you feel comfortable with a song, you may not even need the instrumental backing at all. Practicing “a capella” (without an instrument) is a good opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the sound and quality of your voice. Try singing a song all the way through from memory. Think about how it feels to be so aware of your voice and how you’re able to stay on pitch. This can be a challenging exercise, but it will certainly push you out of your comfort zone and help you with your confidence.
If you know someone who plays an instrument, they can certainly be a helpful resource, as well. Ask your friend if they want to learn a song with you or offer to do them a favor if they help you warm up one day. You may not need to go so far as hiring a professional accompanist for your practice if you make friends with plenty of musicians and have a collaborative spirit.
There are so many easy and accessible ways you can practice singing without being able to play an instrument yourself. If you have the resolve to do so and make time for your practice, nothing should hold you back from working on your singing skills.
Written by Nellie Vinograd