Singing Lessons: How Long will it Take to Learn How to Sing?

Singing Lessons: How Long will it Take to Learn How to Sing?

Here’s the question you must answer first.

What are your singing goals and aspirations?

3 Ways to Define Your Singing Goals

Here are 3 ways to help you define the your singing goals and aspirations. Look at these three diagrams and answer the question below it. Answer these three questions then we’ll proceed.

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Each of these pyramids have 5 categories.  Let’s say the bottom of the pyramid is a level 1 and the top is a level 5.  How long will it take to learn to sing? It depends on the answer to a few more more questions.

First, which level are you wanting to achieve? Second, what is your current level of singing? Third, are you willing to pay the time demands as well as the mental, physical, emotional and financial price to achieve your goal?

Which Level is Best?

There’s no right or wrong or best level.  Our motivations and desires are different for all of us and that’s OK! Most singers have no interest in being Beyonce. There’s just as much joy and satisfaction in singing at level 1 as at 2-5. There’s a huge amount of enjoyment singing karaoke with your family and friends. It’s equally fulfilling to give your senior recital for your Masters in vocal performance at the university. It’s totally OK if you do or don’t want a high level of singing.

Your goal is to achieve YOUR singing dreams and aspirations not someone elses.

And within each level there’s an infinite number of sub-levels and intensities.

Virtually Anything is Possible within each Level

Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues and Manute Bol

Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues, 5′ 3” and Manute Bol, 7’7” both played in the NBA

Here’s an example of limitations and possibilities. Who could imagine someone 5’3” playing in the NBA. However there are limitations.  It’s unlikely Bogues would play center and Bol play guard.

Each level requires a “must have” combination of skills and ability. But there is no set of rules within reason.  For example, if you want to sing at a level 4 as a professional recording artist, you must be able to hear and speak. If you are hearing impaired and you cannot speak it’s likely that you won’t achieve level 4. I’m not going to say impossible, but very unlikely.


3 times National Champions

3 X National Champions

If you wanted to play in the NBA, you must have two legs and likely, two arms and hands. If you were missing your legs you could still play in wheelchair basketball league if you had arms and hands and be very challenged and fulfilled in that level. But the NBA would be out of reach as a player.


The Good News is Singing and Performing are Different

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Bob Dylan

There are numerous examples of level 5 performers who are not (in my opinion) level 5 singers.  For example, I don’t think Bob Dylan’s a great singer. Yet he’s credited by Rolling Stone Magazine as having the greatest rock song ever, “Like a Rolling Stone“.

This is great news for all of us singers. You don’t have to be a great singer to be a great song-writer or performer and entertainer. And you can have millions of people completely in love with your voice and your performing with an average to below-average voice.  Listen to Tom Waits for an awakening on vocal performance. Yet he’s legendary with a huge following.

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Tom Waits

Janice Joplin

Janice Joplin

The same with the late Janice Joplin.  My point is you don’t have to be a great singer to inspire the planet with your performance. This is not a criticism. This is the good news!  It means there is room for all of us to reach others with our voices, talent and passion.

The Bad News is Singing and Performing are Different

Why is this bad news? Because if you’re an amazing singer at a level 2 but you’re unable to get over your introverted shyness, your soft spoken reserve or whatever is preventing you from opening your heart and exposing it to the world…giving everything you have, first in practice and then in performance, it may not matter what level of singer you are, you may struggle to achieve the highest levels.

There is a definite commitment to laying aside your inhibitions to take chances before you can begin to push beyond your current limitations and break through to what you really want.

Can you see that it’s very difficult to answer the question “How long will it take to learn how to sing?”.

Pavarotti, a “Level 5” in the opera world, gives an example of an “elegant” note he sings.  After doing it he said, “…Now that sounds simple…take probably 10 years to make a sound like that”. Watch it here at 3:18 minutes into the video.



So there you have it. Consider Pavarotti’s casual comment about taking 10 years to make a certain sound and you have an idea for an answer to your question.

The In-born Natural Talent Factor

The other part of the equation is your natural aptitude for singing and performing. Here’s the best way to describe what I see.

Two Moms bring their 5-year-old to learn to sing because “they sing all day long”.  One can’t sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on pitch and the other sings “Let it Go” perfectly on pitch and with confidence.

Neither had lessons before. But it will take one of these kids longer to learn to sing than the other.

However, maybe the one with the pitch problem has a consuming desire to sing…and in time conquers all the limitations and begins to excel. Whereas the other more “gifted” student loses interest. It could go either way.

Occasionally you see a natural talent that also has the inborn passion.  This may be a future Beyonce or John Lennon.

Shirley Temple became a star at age 3

Shirley Temple became a star at age 3

How Long will it take to learn how to Sing?

Uhhhhh……..well how about: depending on your inborn talent, physical limitations, current skill level, personality, desire, goals and work ethic…

Level 1: 1-12+ months.

Level 2: 1-4+ years.

Level 3: 1-8+ years.

Level 4: 1-10+ years.

Level 5: Years. Decades. You could hit Level 5 like 3-year-old phenomenon, Shirley Temple, or 10-year-old Michael Jackson. Without question it will take a lifetime of work and commitment.

Michael Jackson performed with the Jackson 5 at age 10

Michael Jackson performed with the Jackson 5 at age 10

And there are exceptions to everything I’ve said.

But, for now, it’s the best answer I can give.

How long has it taken for you to reach your current level of singing? Would you mind sharing? Be honest!  Any other ideas on how to answer this question?







About Chuck R. Gilmore

My personal singing journey from failure to success gives me a unique perspective and special insight into the problems you face as an aspiring singer. Everything from not being able to sing high notes to lack of confidence singing in front of others. Because I've solved them in my own voice, I know how to help you.


  1. Hi Chuck i loved your views about singing. My view is that any person who wants to become a professional singer should practice as much as he can….Listen to the other singers for inspiration,etc… 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Marilyn. I love musical theatre. I find that I practice a lot more if I have an audition or I’m in the show. Good advice for all of us might be to always have some performance we’re working towards. This way we stay motivated to practice. At least I do!

  2. Very informative and entertaining article… for me practice makes perfect and is the one major factor that contributes to a singer’s success

  3. Thank you! This is really interesting.

    I’m curious for the practicing part, when I’m not at the studio for lessons, where do people practice singing? I live with people who are home 24/7 and we have a quiet meditation house, so I can’t sing in the shower or my room. I can’t drive currently due to surgery, since my car would be my first choice. It’s parked in a public street, though. I feel weird going to the park where other people can hear/see me. Anywhere you’d recommend I practice my scales, etc? 🙂

    • Hi Krissy: It’s tough when you can’t practice at home. Do you have a friend who would let you come to their home to practice? Other possibilities might be in your parked car in the garage on the street. At a church? In a college or school in your city (find an empty room).

      • I have a friend who has space but then I feel weird because then he can hear me, lol. Parked car might be the easiest and just ignore people walking by or maybe put up a sheet 🙂

        I’ll wander around my school, too, and see if there are empty rooms.

        Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. Great answer to one of my least favorite questions ever. I never knew how best to answer this one whenever I got asked by prospective students. Now I can just refer them here. Thanks!

  5. Miaka Yukki says:

    Bonjour je voudrais te demander une petite chose est se que est il possible de venir chanteur même si ma voix est movaise?

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