7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Singing

I come from a musical family. My grandfather played piano professionally, my grandmother was constantly singing in her sweet vibrato and many other relatives have gotten the music bug. So it was practically inevitable that I would follow in their footsteps.

Over the years, I tried my hand at a few instruments, but what I most fell in love with was singing. I joined choirs, took voice lessons, sang solos ó nothing out of the ordinary for someone with an interest in singing. And though nowadays I definitely fall under the category of shower singer versus Broadway star, I still find myself reflecting on my vocal training. These are seven life lessons Iíve learned from singing.

1. Posture really matters

Regardless of whether you sang in school or with a private voice coach, youíve probably had your posture critiqued. Sit on the edge of your chair, back straight, chin parallel to the ground ó the way you carry yourself really does matter to get the best sound out of your body. And itís probably thanks to all my past music teachers for drilling that message into me that Iím able to subconsciously maintain proper posture today.

Good posture comes with many health benefits. It helps to preserve your spine health, it boosts your energy and it even allows you to breathe more efficiently. It does take strength and stamina to hold correct posture, especially if youíre somewhat sedentary all day. But, as I learned from singing, the more you work on your posture, the less youíll end up having to think about it.

2. There is a correct way to breathe

Correct posture and breathing go hand in hand. And Iím lucky I started singing at a young age and learned how to use my breath to its fullest effect. Itís all about the diaphragm. I remember an exercise from music class where the teacher had us partner up and put our hands on each otherís shoulders to see whether they rose as we took a breath. At the time, we were kids who probably thought it was silly. But it was the start to us learning to breathe from the core.

Health experts agree diaphragmatic breathing ó as opposed to breathing from higher up in the chest ó is the ďcorrectĒ way to breathe. When you take that deep belly breath, the diaphragm contracts and moves downward, providing your lungs with ample space to take in air. On the other hand, chest breathing limits the diaphragmís range of motion and consequently doesnít result in a productive breath. Not only does diaphragmatic breathing project your singing voice, but it has a host of health benefits, including slowing the heart rate, relieving stress and strengthening the immune system.

3. Practice, practice, practice

A group of children stand in a line holding music and singing.

Practice makes perfect, right? One way or another, weíve all learned the importance of practice. That discipline and dedication can take you far in life. And for me, singing was an excellent teacher.

Practicing a song involves stripping it down to the basics, building on what you already know and lots of repetition. There are many sour notes, forgotten lyrics and days when your vocal cords just arenít cooperating. But when you sing the same line 20 times just to cleanly hit one note and you finally succeed, it makes all that practice worthwhile.

4. Mistakes happen

Singing can be incredibly nerve-racking. Itís a personal thing to share your unique voice with others, especially when sour notes are inevitable. Your voice might crack on a solo, or you might come in at the wrong time when singing in a group. Even the best singers in the world have their blunders.

But learning to make mistakes is a part of life. And hitting some bad notes helps you come to terms with your imperfections. It might inspire you to work harder, but it also can show you people donít dwell on your mistakes as much as you might. In fact, they usually donít even remember a few sour notes in an otherwise excellent performance.

5. Appreciate other cultures

I sang a lot of pieces from various time periods and cultures. And I was fortunate enough to have instructors who aimed for those songs to come across as authentic as possible. My pronunciations of foreign languages definitely werenít perfect, and I sometimes didnít know what the words actually meant.

But through the hallmark tones and rhythms of a cultureís music, I felt like I was learning about parts of the world I otherwise might not have known. Art is one of the most powerful ways to connect people. Itís practically a universal language, bridging the gap between our differences. And those songs allowed me the chance to appreciate the art of other cultures and feel a little more connected to the world at large.

6. Teamwork makes the dream work

A group of children sing while one plays piano.

I didnít grow up singing alone. From music class to musicals, I found many friends who all enjoyed singing as much as I did. And just like any team, you learn every person brings something valuable to the group. It doesnít work to try to out-sing and overshadow the other voices in your choir.

Instead, you have to learn to perform as a unit, blending seamlessly and supporting one another to bring out the beauty of the music. Sometimes you get the spotlight as a soloist. And other times your role is to back up another singer. Itís a pretty fitting metaphor for successfully co-existing with others in everyday life.

7. Sing out loud and proud

Anyone can sing. No, we donít all have opera-worthy voices, but really thatís only necessary if you plan to audition for an actual opera. If singing has taught me anything itís that itís pretty empowering ó and not to mention fun ó to use your voice. Singing requires you to open up and allow others to really hear what you can do.

But that can apply to any skill, hobby, dream, etc. you have in life. Itís important to find that confidence in whatever it is you love to do. Donít be afraid to share your talents with others. But more importantly, remember to acknowledge that talent in yourself.

Main image credit: seb_ra/Getty Images

73 comments

Latoya Brookins
Latoya B11 hours ago

I would sing out loud but I think it might count as noise pollution.

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Sophie A
Sophie A11 hours ago

Thanks for sharing

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson23 hours ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p2 days ago

Thank you

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L3 days ago

thank you

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Daniel N
Daniel N6 days ago

Thanks very much

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Leo C
Leo Custer6 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii p6 days ago

Thank you.

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