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Can you know if your favorite singers took vocal lessons?

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JohnnyL
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I read that Ian Gillan grew up with an opera singer grandfather, who probably showed him a few techniques... for some singers I read that they just figured it out by themselves... however, I have no idea regarding the majority... is there a way of hearing it? was anyone else ever interested?

The weird thing is, that as a guitar player, the stories on how most guitarists learnt are usually very easy to find, and in many cases one can make an educated guess on how extensive was their work on technique and theory... With singers, maybe because I'm such a total beginner, I have no idea of knowing. Are there really a lot of 'naturals' out there? or is there some kind of social demand to present it as if it's a knack you're born with that most guys don't talk about how they were trained?

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I read the history of Deep Purple but I had not heard of Gillan having a grandfather who sang opera. That would be news to me.

Pat Benetar (soprano), Ron Keel, Kip Winger (tenor), Dee Snider (counter-tenor), Michael Bolton, Lou Gramm, to name a few, have had classical lessons from the same opera teachers who teach legit opera singers.

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I read the history of Deep Purple but I had not heard of Gillan having a grandfather who sang opera. That would be news to me.

I read it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Gillan#Early_life

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I read it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Gillan#Early_life

Oh, okay. Please do not take offense but wikipedia is not the end-all source of info that it wants to be. For example, there is not footnote to explain or verify Ian's grandfather's singing status. And, as I have said, until I find some memoirs by Ian Gillan, I might see this as legend.

I am also aware of a celebrity who's birthdate was mistated in wikipedia. So, he protested it and got it changed, for a week. Then it was changed back to the incorrect date, after that.

The problem with wikipedia is that anyone can make an entry without verification. In fact, some histories have such a disclaimer as "not verified at the time of this posting" or words to that effect. I am not saying that the legend is untruthful, just not verified, not that Ian ever gave a lot of interviews, to begin with.

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There are a bunch of naturals and a bunch of liars and yadayada. It's a crapshoot but if its your favorite singers you should try your best with clues.

Generally I suspect that those that say they didnt take lessons are indeed mostly naturals but what they may not tell you is that they got important help along the way , from singer friends, vocal producers, school choir classes, taking lessons in their childhood because they were serious about singing, etc.

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RonWS - no offence taken. Wikipedia has its issues, but honestly, even artist biographies and even autobiographies are full of "inaccuracies". The whole I don't know any scales thing rock guitarists say... it's usually more relative (to jazz guitarists) than absolute.

Regarding Gillan, I did think there was a link to a source, and it seems pretty reasonable. Although I wouldn't be very upset if there was a totally different story.

Owen - it's kind of what I was thinking...

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Also consider that sometimes the lessons may be later in a singer's career. Sometimes that appears as development from album to album, but it could also be a matter of retaining a voice and a singing style that would otherwise be lost to damage, fatigue and/or aging in general.

Rob Flynn of Machine Head would fit the first category and Mick Jagger is just the latest example I have come across for the latter.

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Yeah, JohnnyL, the whole Ian thing is a side-issue to the main question, can you know if your favorite singers took lessons?

And Owen mentioned singers who may not have took organized lessons for 4 years but received hints and tips a long the way. Is that not a lesson? What is a lesson? Is it someone teaching you something one time and you really pay attention and lock it into your very soul? How is that not more effective than spending thousands of dollars for someone to count your scales for you?

Too much mythology and hero worship builds around singers. Granted, I decry that because I was raised to not worship any mortal man. It would be easier for me to break potty training than that. But, anyway, what is key among accomplished singers is practice at whatever it is that he or she does.

I once saw a double-header of Robert Cray and Buddy Guy at the Winstar Casino Event Center (about the size of an opera house.) I have the feeling that Buddy Guy did not spend the better part of a decade at some school of arts. He howls and screams and has been doing it professionally for over 40 years.

Practice.

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it's highly likely if a singer reaches significant to a major level of success, they have a vocal coach assigned to them by the record companies as a safeguard to their investment in them.

some have more than one on the payroll and they may travel with them as well. you just don't hear about it.

just like a gymnast.

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I would say that in terms of the answer you seek we can use Usain Bolt (sprinter) as an example. If you ask him if he was fast before training with his world-class coach he would say "yes, I was always fast" but if you ask him if he improved tons under his coach... he would say yes "I improved tons with a coach."

Even if you are naturally inclined to be a good singer or not a gifted coach can make you better. Celine Dion is a good example, I think she was always good but still puts in the work with her coach till this day.

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The thing is (back to guitars again) - when you start learning you can find A LOT of information on how the guitarists you like got their tone and how they've learned. Currently, I can make educated guesses on the musical education a guitarist had... I suppose that it's harder for me with vocalists as I'm a beginner - but searching the internet made me feel that there are a lot more black boxes. With other instruments there is sometimes too much information...

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I would say that in terms of the answer you seek we can use Usain Bolt (sprinter) as an example. If you ask him if he was fast before training with his world-class coach he would say "yes, I was always fast" but if you ask him if he improved tons under his coach... he would say yes "I improved tons with a coach."

Even if you are naturally inclined to be a good singer or not a gifted coach can make you better. Celine Dion is a good example, I think she was always good but still puts in the work with her coach till this day.

Actually, I'm more curious if you can go from being not particularly good to at least a reasonable singer by taking lessons. Let's talk Karate Kid instead of Usain Bolt?

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Actually, I'm more curious if you can go from being not particularly good to at least a reasonable singer by taking lessons.

Absolutely. You can be more than a reasonable singer if you want. You can take it a really long way. It all depends on how bad you want it and how much you are willing to work at it. There really are no limits. You were born with the same vocal apparatus as your favorite singers.

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Actually, I'm more curious if you can go from being not particularly good to at least a reasonable singer by taking lessons.

Of course. Also, don't ever fall for the silly notion that one is either born to be a good singer or they're not. They are many people who legitimately believe it and will pass this along to you, but it's simply not true.

There are certainly those who excel quicker than others, but you can't get discouraged if you don't find yourself developing at the same pace. You simply can't force immediate results.

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Actually, I'm more curious if you can go from being not particularly good to at least a reasonable singer by taking lessons. Let's talk Karate Kid instead of Usain Bolt?

Ahhh I knew there was something else to it :P.

Karate Kid does not exist, so its a worse reference than Bolt.

But yes you can learn, if you want to.

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"enjoyed that little performance" sounds slightly passive aggresive is that what you are going with that one. i wish i could have a little performance that good.:|

i would love to have any performance that good.

no not at all that kid can really sing. it was truly entertaining

by little i just mean short and intimate. it was very nice in that way

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Actually, I'm more curious if you can go from being not particularly good to at least a reasonable singer by taking lessons. Let's talk Karate Kid instead of Usain Bolt?

Ahhh I knew there was something else to it :P.

Karate Kid does not exist, so its a worse reference than Bolt.

But yes you can learn, if you want to.

I liked both for the reference - to being born with talent and improving vs. learning from scratch. As music is not a competition (at least for me, I'm not into X-Factor, Voice and whatever...) there are no champions... I'm okay if my name would not be mentioned in a Robert Plant vs Ian Gillan debate. :)

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