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rentluva5256's avatar

Is it possible to have a future as a musician but cannot sing at all?

Asked by rentluva5256 (555points) February 5th, 2010

I absolutely love music, especially classical. I’m only a freshman in high school, but I still know that I want to major in music. I’m in band and I play clarinet and saxaphone. I’m apparently good at clarinet because I’ve been selected for a couple of honors bands. I have also started writing music. However, I cannot carry a tune. I seriously can’t sing for my life! Can I still have a future in music, even if I can’t sing?

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31 Answers

jackm's avatar

Yes, singing is only one of the many ways to express music.

joehobbes's avatar

I don’t see why not—even as a solo artist.
But being in a group makes it even less essential.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I don’t know that Beethoven had any kind of voice worth speaking of. Or singing. I think he was a pretty fair musician, though.

Snarp's avatar

If you actually can’t carry a tune it suggests that maybe you don’t have the best ear for music, which will be a hindrance, but if you are really good technically, can read music well, and can follow direction, you can still do OK as an instrumentalist.

ucme's avatar

It never stopped Justin Timberlake.God those last three words sound good.

jfos's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Although I agree with you, times have changed. Nowadays, many of the popular (which usually implies successful) musicians can sing relatively well.

Snarp's avatar

@jfos Well, actually with the magic of electronics, you don’t have to be nearly as good a singer as you used to to be a recording artist.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@jfos, so what? Warren Zevon had one of the worst singing voices I ever heard. But he was also one of my personal favorites. And Bob Dylan? Jeez… let’s not get started.

jfos's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I agree. But those artists became popular 30 or more years ago. I think that being able to sing or vocalize somehow is a definite advantage. But no, it is not necessary.

Snarp's avatar

I think there’s a distinction between having a good voice and being able to carry a tune. I not only have a bad voice, but I also cannot hit the right notes, and often can’t tell by hearing even vaguely what notes I’m supposed to sing. Lots of band practice made me better at it, but I’m still very bad. Having a lousy voice means nothing, but not being able to hit the notes could be a problem, even for an instrumentalist, though it doesn’t preclude one for certain from being a successful instrumentalist.

zephyr826's avatar

If you really like classical music, a lack of singing voice shouldn’t be a problem. Major in instrumental performance, and look for work in an ensemble. Not being able to sing may make theroy and ear training difficult, but no impossible.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Look up Explosions in the Sky.

Semi successful rock band, no singer. Very good music.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The quality of your singing may not matter a great deal. Bob Dylan’s voice has been compared to the sound of a hound dog with its leg caught in barbed wire.

If you have no ear for music and can’t tell if someone is or is not on pitch, your ability to compose will most likely be seriously compromised.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Singing ability has little to do with it. If you read music well, can get your head around musical theory and are good technically with reed instruments a conservatory should accept you. Many musicians without singing ability have done very well. Was Benny Goodman known for his singing?

john65pennington's avatar

I have been a drummer(studio) for many years and also cannot carry a tune in a bucket. talent lies where talent is. you play the clarinet and saxaphone and that does not require you to use your voice. forget the singing and concentrate on your insturments. i did. no one ever asked me to sing and its a good thing. i can play the hell out of drums, though.

Jeruba's avatar

I never heard Yo-Yo Ma sing.

ubersiren's avatar

Of course you can! I just watched It Might Get Loud and Jimmy Page admitted that he can’t sing at all. He and “The Edge” both said that they think of their guitars as their voices. It’s definitely not a necessity.

life_after_2012's avatar

of course, you can learn to do anything you want, you just got to work hard.

SeventhSense's avatar

Sure just blow your sax and not the microphone.

dalepetrie's avatar

Two very simple observations…

1) you’re into classical music, and the vast majority of classical music I’ve ever heard doesn’t have singing

2) If you’re at all into rock music, you know who Jimmy Page is, there’s a new documentary film starring him, Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather) and the Edge (U2), all chatting about guitars and music (the film is called This Might Get Loud), and in the end they jam together, but after we spend an hour and a half going over Jimmy’s career showing all these other musical accomplishments he made prior to being in the Yardbirds or Zeppelin (basically, he would have been somewhat legendary even without the band that made him a legend because of his guitar talent), after we see all that, we hear him tell the other two guys that he can’t sing.

So, I’m thinking if you can go to both extremes in music…from classical to rock, and find that those at the top of their field can’t sing, it shouldn’t bother you if you can’t either.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Kinda depends on what you want to do – what you consider a “future” – you can do studio music or play in a band behind a singer. Not a lot of non-vocalists are “famous” musicians these days – but there are a handful that you hear about – eg Itzhak Perlman.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, you can.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

I’ve played guitar professionally for almost forty years. I can sing simple backups, but I was never very good in a lead vocalist capacity. Many top-name performers have relied on someone else to provide the lead vocals in their music, such as Robin Trower, Yngvie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and Ritchie Blackmore. So, while being able to sing well does help, it isn’t a requirement.

scotsbloke's avatar

Sure, I’d say if you wanna be a musician then you’ll be playing an instrument of some kind. If you wanted to sing you’d be a singer.
Two, related but different thingamybobs.

mea05key's avatar

I don;t think its a problem at all, but you will probably not be in the limelight. Try composing music, playing instruments. I think a good example will be air supply. Cant remember the guy’s name now, but one sings most of them, the other composes music really well and sings occasionally in their song.

mass_pike4's avatar

you could make a jazz record or be apart of a jazz band that travels across the nation to perform! Of course you can have a future in music without singing! There are just as many options.

filmfann's avatar

Paging Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan to the white courtesy phone.

Berserker's avatar

Buckethead. Living proof that yes, you can.

mattbrowne's avatar

Except for tone deafness, everybody can learn to sing. You need a good teacher and/or choir.

When the movie Music and Lyrics was produced Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore actually had to learn how to sing. Of course they got good teachers. And they did reasonably well.

elenuial's avatar

Singing can be trained. My brother couldn’t sing at all, and everyone thought he was tone-deaf, then he took some lessons and all of a sudden he can. If it really means a lot to you, then you can hire a teacher or work on your own. It’ll be hard (anything worth doing tends to be), but it’s doable.

That said, lots of folks have already said that you don’t need to be able to sing to be a pro musician. They’re right.

(On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t hurt…)

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