| 28 May 2020
Singing: Practice makes perfect

MUMBAI: Singing accurately is a learnt skill that can decline over time if not used and not so much a natural talent as commonly thought, a new research suggests.

"When people are unsuccessful they take it very personally, but we think if you sing more, you will get better," said lead researcher Steven Demorest, professor of music education at the Northwestern University in the US.

Singing on key is likely easier for some people than others but "it is also a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly," Demorest added.

The study compared the singing accuracy of three groups: kindergarteners, sixth graders and college-aged adults.

The study showed considerable improvement in accuracy from kindergarten to late elementary school, when the children received regular music instruction.

But the adults who stopped singing, the gains were reversed - to the point that college students performed at the level of the kindergarteners on two of the three tasks.

"Our study suggests that adults, who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing," Demorest said.

Children who have been told they cannot sing well are even less likely to engage with music in the future. Being called tone deaf can have devastating effects on a child's self-image, the researchers said.

The study appeared in the journal Music Perception.