• Cynthia Robinshaw

Can I Learn to Sing Watching YouTube or TikTok?


Learning to sing by watching a video or reading books might not be such a great idea. If you learn to play the piano or guitar or other musical instrument by watching videos and reading books you may pick up a few good tips but you also will probably make a lot of mistakes with technique. Technique mistakes, although becoming ingrained in memory, will not do damage to your physical body as an instrumentalist. However, learning technical mistakes in singing voice can cause serious injury to your voice including vocal edema, vocal nodules, polyps, and other serious voice issues.

Have you ever heard song and realized you had the words wrong after the numerous times you sang it? I remember the first time in music school I was forced to learn an enormous amount of music for an operatic performance. I thought I would take a shortcut. There was no YouTube in those days so instead i grabbed a recording from the college's music library and listened to to the opera over and over again until I had my pieces learned - or so I thought. At voice lessons and opera workshop the instructors asked me to perform my part. Both my teacher and the vocal coach insisted I had made several, if not a multitude, of notation and timing errors. How was I singing wrong notes and rhythms since I learned my music along with a recording in the music library? The answer was simply that I thought I was listening and memorizing correctly but my auditory memory did not recall the task at hand with 100% accuracy. I learned that everyone makes mistakes and it took twice as long to learn my material because I had to fix all of those errors that I had memorized incorrectly. Therefore, taking the short cut cost me time, practice, and a great deal of embarrassment in front of my colleagues, professors, directors and producers of the show! I learned not to trust everything I hear. That stayed with me forever.

What does learning something from a recording have to do with watching something on YouTube, TikTok, or other platforms? Long term memory, whether it be memorizing multiplication tables or learning to sing, is created by repeatedly practicing. Make one mistake and you have learned an error permanently. Make several and you have set yourself up to spend an enormous amount of time correcting yourself.


The next question to ask is how do you know the person is qualified in the area they are teaching? There are high school students demonstrating "how to sing" out there on the internet. Who is this person? What are the person's credentials? Is the "instructor" a singer who uses auto-tune on recordings? I have seen a number of videos with people demonstrating breathing and dangerous singing techniques on YouTube. Just look at these platforms and see how many people are out there showing contradictory information. How do you know you can trust them?


Another issue is that you need reassurance that you are doing what you think you are seeing and hearing. Singing with incorrect technique can send you to an ear, nose and throat doctor and some serious and uncomfortable testing!.


Learning to sing by watching YouTube or other platforms isn't the smartest way to learn to sing. You need constant supervision and correct practice by a qualified voice professional. Don’t try to take a shortcut. Do it right the first time. Make sure you research the voice instructor and their experience. Of course, you could contact me to ensure that you know what you are doing!





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