Monday, August 16, 2021

Are only ‘singers’ allowed to sing?

Following on from last week’s post (Can only singers lead choirs, only music readers arrange songs and only musicians be songwriters?), it’s time to consider ‘singers’.


I think most of you know by now that I believe that everyone can sing. I’d like to delve a little deeper into whether you need to be a ‘singer’ in order to sing.

singing should be for everyone

In my 25-year career as a choir leader, I have tried to make sure that everyone who wants to sing has the opportunity to do so.

This means that none of my choirs or workshops have auditions. I don’t use sheet music or assume that people have any kind of music training. Nobody who attends my singing events needs to have had any singing experience whatsoever.

I try as much as I can to enable anybody who wants to sing to have access to singing. There are no obstacles to joining in.

Despite my efforts, there are still people who don’t think they belong in my singing groups.

They have created their own obstacles by having fixed ideas of what ‘singing’ is and who can be a ‘singer’.

how things start to go wrong in childhood

John Lennon once said (1969):

“Every child is an artist until he’s told he’s not an artist.”

I would like to adapt that slightly to focus on singing:

“Every child is a singer until they’re told they’re not a singer.”

So many of the people who do end up coming to my singing events have stories about being told to stand at the back and mime when they were children.

Often it’s taken them 40 or 50 years to pluck up the courage to come back to singing, having been told as a child that they’re not a ‘singer’. Such a shame – and it’s still going on today.

My belief is that everyone is a ‘singer’ and everyone should have access to singing, regardless of age, ability, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.

The simple answer to “Are only ‘singers’ allowed to sing?” is “No. Everyone can sing.”

further reading

I’ve written about this subject extensively, and here are a few of the relevant posts:


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Chris Rowbury




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