Just Explain It: Why Are Some of Us Horrible Singers?

Not everyone has a voice like Whitney Houston, and there are plenty of YouTube clips to prove it.

Over the last decade though, we’re seeing more and more amateurs get a shot at stardom than ever before.  Shows like American Idol, The Voice and The X Factor, have provided a stage for wannabe pop stars.

Some are talented, but others… let’s just say, should keep their day jobs.
 
In today’s Just Explain it, we’ll explore why some of us have voices of angels and well, others don't!

When we listen to professionals, singing might seem easy, but it’s not for most of us.  At it's most basic level, experts say singing is a complex act that involves good coordination between parts of your body like your brain, ears, throat and lungs.  To be a successful singer, you need to accurately perceive a note and match it using your vocal muscles.

But good coordination alone might not make you a great singer. 

The physiological shape of your vocal tracts can determine the quality of your voice.  That means it’s possible that you can be born with a great set of pipes, but what will eventually separate you from the pack is practice.

However, research hasn't proved that genetics play a significant role in vocal ability.

So how would most people do on a singing test?

Probably not well.  A University of Montreal study found that 40 to 62 percent of non-musicians in Canada are poor singers.  It broke down the three areas of deficiency within the group.
 
Twenty percent couldn't control their vocal muscles.
 
Thirty-five percent had trouble matching the pitch of their voice to tones from something like a piano or another person.
 
And five percent were unable to distinguish between two sounds or hear pitch differences.

Across the border in the United States, researchers are also trying to pinpoint why people have trouble singing.  A recent SUNY Buffalo study suggests, “poor singers have trouble imaging what music sounds like. That means they can't play a song in their heads as well other people do, which may relate to problems in planning what they should sing," according to Peter Pfordresher, Ph.D., a co-author of the study.
 
So, in the end, what makes someone a bad singer? The answer is, for most of you the sounds get ‘lost in translation’…it’s hard to take the music in your head and translate those sounds into the correct tone and pitch.

But all hope isn’t lost.  Most people can probably be trained to be better singers.

So when you hear someone singing off-key in the shower or in church, there’s hope.  With a little practice, they could be the next American Idol.

Does singing come natural to you? Let us know what you think. Give us your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter using #JustExplainItNews.

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