Is a Singer a Musician? [5 Reasons Why They Are]

In Guides for Singers by Jake LLeave a Comment

Last updated on July 25th, 2018 at 09:39 pm

A question that has been asked many times in the music world. Is a singer a musician?

On one side, people are saying,
“No, singers are not musicians because they don’t play a physical instrument” while the other side is saying, “Yes, singers are musicians because their main musical instrument is their voice.”

So what’s the answer to this controversial question that has many singers/musicians in disagreement?

Well, the answer is yes, singers are musicians.

Now before you disagree, hear me out on my reasons why I believe that singers are actual musicians.

First thing’s first, we should answer this question.

What is a Musician?

A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented. Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music may be referred to as a musician.

A musician’s passion is to play music and reach out to many other people with their art.

A musician who plays a musical instrument can also be referred to as an instrumentalist.

With this definition of what a musician is in mind, let’s move on to my reasons on why singers are musicians.

Reason 1: The Human Voice is a Musical Instrument

Singing for my convocation class

Our voice is a unique musical instrument and just like a guitar, piano, or any other instrument, a lot of time, practice, and dedication is needed to hone our abilities.

Almost everyone is born with a voice and some are even born with a natural talent for singing.

 However, those who work hard at constantly striving to improve their craft will be able to accomplish more with their instrument in the long run.

The voice is definitely one of the hardest instruments to master because everyone has their own distinct voice.

Finding your own voice can be a journey for many and learning the proper skills and techniques to not only produce a wonderful sound with your voice but to also do it in a healthy and safe way can take many hours of practice and experience.

Unlike other instruments, you can’t just go out and buy another voice if you don’t like the sound of the one you have right now.

Instead, you can train your vocals and learn how to use your instrument in the most effective way possible so you can produce the sound of your voice to it’s highest potential.

Your voice has a one of a kind sound and it definitely has the potential to be crafted into an amazing musical instrument.

Reason 2: Singers Perform Music

Audience cheering at big live show

“Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music may be referred to as a musician.”

Just like any musician, singers are performers of the musical arts.

Performing music, whether for a big crowd or just one person, is more than just going on stage producing a sound we call music.

It takes passion and an emotional connection with the audience to be an excellent music performer.

My singing teacher, who is both a professional singer and an instrumentalist, always taught his students an important idea to keep in mind whenever we perform music.

“People go to live music performances, not only to watch their favorite artist perform their favorite songs but to also feel the connection between themselves and the artist through the music they create.”

“Maybe the people who are watching you perform is going through something that is similar to your experience and listening to your song/performance shows them that they are not alone.”

The difference between an average performer and a memorable performer is the passion and emotional connection that the performer can make with their audience.

Not every song is performed the same, whether you are singing a song or playing an instrument to accompany it.

The ability to create a story that your audience will remember through your musical talents is what really makes an excellent musical performer.

Singers really have an upper hand when it comes to having a performance that can connect with people.

The lyrics that the singers sing to the audience can have a stronger connection with them.

Being able to understand what the singer is saying through their lyrics makes it easier for anyone who is listening to relate and interpret the lyrics in their own ways.

But like I always say, a singer can’t just go and memorize the lyrics, go on stage and expect to give the performance of a lifetime.

A great performer is also a great storyteller and storytelling through music can be a magical experience, both for the performer and the listener.

A great singer/musician will also have to work on their ability to give a performance that could potentially change the lives of the people in the audience.

If you want to improve as a performer, check out my article on: 12 IMPORTANT Tips for Performing Live – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Reason 3: Singers Compose Music

Marking sheet music with a pen

Almost every musician has composed their own piece of music or at least dabbled in composing their own original work.

Writing your own original song takes a lot of skill, time, and dedication.

Putting music together from scratch can be a daunting task but for many the art itself is rewarding and a good outlet for expression.

Composing music as a singer usually means you’ll be putting together the lyrics for a song.

In collaboration with an instrumentalist, a singer can then put the lyrics together with a melody so the songwriting process can proceed.

As a singer, we also develop an idea of how the song sounds like in our head while we are writing our lyrics.

With this idea, we can further assist the instrumentalist with developing the melody and putting together some chords.

Of course, it would help if the singer could also play another instrument so the instrumentalist will have more to work with when putting together the instrumental music for the song.

Original songs and compositions are at the heart and soul of every musician.

Putting together an original piece and being able to perform it is one of the ultimate outlets of expression that a musician can achieve.

Reason 4: Having an Ear for Music

Guitarist asking the crowd if they can hear

Having an ear for music is an important key to being a musician and developing your musical talents further.

Some people are gifted more than others when it comes to having good ears for music, but with enough ear training, anyone can train their ears to a higher level to hear the subtle differences in music notes.

A singer needs to have a good ear for music if they ever want to make it far in the music world.

  • There is Perfect Pitchwhich is when a person is able to hear and name the exact note or chord that is being played by hearing the pitch. People with perfect pitch don’t need to refer to other pitches of notes they have heard before. A lot of musicians who have been learning music from a young age have a higher potential for developing perfect pitch.
  • Relative Pitch is the ability to recognize the pitch of notes by relating it to notes that you have heard before. You may often use your interval recognition skills to figure out the distances between notes, thus being able to name the pitch you are hearing.

Having a good musical ear is very advantageous for any musician.

Being able to distinguish what sounds good and what sounds bad in music can make or break your career as a musician.

As a singer, you are constantly training your ears while you sing because unlike other musical instruments, singers have the disadvantage of not being able to see the chords physically.

Instrumentalists like guitarist or pianist can use their instrument as a visual reference to find where a note or chord is.

For example, a pianist can look at the piano keys and place their fingers in the correct places to create the sound they are looking for.

As a singer, we have no physical instrument in our hands to figure out what chord makes what sound.

Instead, singers use their ears and mental connection to distinguish the sounds of a pitch.

Being able to create the correct pitch with our voices takes a lot of musical talent and training.

This is especially true for a singer who is able to sight-sing, which is to sing a song using the music sheets provided with no preparation.

This can be a very difficult task, even for a trained instrumentalist, but a singer with this ability not only has amazing music reading skills, they have good ears for music that have undergone a lot of training.

Developing a good ear for music can be a very challenging task for any musician and with the handicap of not having a physical instrument to use for reference, singers must work extra hard to train their ears.

Reason 5: Singers Create Music

Guitarist posing in front of sunset

As musicians, one of our purposes in the world is to provide it with the wonderful sounds of music, whether it be for everyone in the world or for ourselves.

Creating music that allows us the musician to express ourselves and relate to other people is one of the most beautiful aspects of being a musician.

Both singers and instrumentalists have an important role in the creation of music.

Without the singers or instrumentalists, all we have left on stage is a microphone, some music instruments, and the silence of an empty stage.

There’s a difference between playing music and creating music.

Anyone can go and play music, but to create music is an artform in its own self.

To create music is to create art, a story, something that the listener can relate to on a deeper level.

Even though an instrumentalist is important in the creation of music, singers also have the ability to create music by themselves.

Singer singing emotionally black and white

Accapella is when a singer sings a song without any accompaniment of an instrumentalist or instrumental.

Hearing a singer sing acapella is such a different experience.

The ability to grab the attention of the audience just with the sound of their voice truly is a magnificent demonstration of how powerful a singer’s musical instrument (their voice) is.

There’s something so refreshing about only hearing someone’s voice during a musical performance.

Maybe it’s because it’s so simple yet captivating when done properly. Maybe it even reminds us of a simpler time when our parents would sing us to sleep.

It allows us to focus more on the performance of the singer and the lyrics they are singing.

Now combined with the sounds that an instrumentalist can produce, the importance of the singer’s voice amplifies.

Not only do they have to make sure that the audience/listeners can clearly understand what they are singing, they have to make sure that they are singing in unison with the instrumentalist providing their sound.

A singer’s role in the creation of music is definitely different from an instrumentalist, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that singers create music with their instrument.

Closing Thoughts

Singers are musicians in their own way and play an important role in the music world.

Just because they don’t have a physical instrument to play, it doesn’t mean they aren’t any more of a musician as a guitarist, pianist, or other instrumentalists.

Singers follow a different path on their musical journey requiring any aspiring singer to go through many hours of training and study to improve their craft.

Anyone has the potential to sing, or pick up a guitar and play a couple of chords, but to truly become a singer, or guitarist, or just a musician, in general, you must work hard.

The ones who push through and work hard to constantly improve their skills will be the ones we can consider musicians.

A musician’s purpose is to provide the world with their music.

The word musician isn’t just a label for people who have musical talents.

Being a musician is a part of a lifestyle that requires a passion for music and an interest to constantly learn.

Any singer should take the opportunity to learn another instrument as it will broaden their abilities and could be advantageous in the world of music.

Constantly collaborate with other musicians because different influences, experiences, and exposure to different styles of music can help you grow as a musician.

Being a part of the musical world allows you to be open and vulnerable with the people who are listening to your music.

This is especially true for singers as their voice is a personal instrument of theirs that is unique. This also opens us up to praise and criticism.

This can be tough for any musician, but it really is a part of the lifestyle.

Keep working hard and find ways to improve. That’s what it’s going to be like on this musical journey.


Leave a Comment