When you start taking singing lessons and become more immersed in the world of music, you might hear both ‘vocalist’ and ‘singer’ thrown around. While they both technically mean the same thing, people do tend to assign more specific meanings to each term, making it a bit of a confusing topic.
Unofficial definitions of “singer” and “vocalist”
Though a singer and a vocalist are generally thought to refer to the same thing in music, some tend to picture two different images depending which term is used. While you won’t raise any flags using the terms interchangeably, knowing the difference can help you on your path within the music industry.
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This is someone who can sing in tune and who people like to listen to. Generally, their voice is pleasant and they can sing along with their chosen style of music, sometimes very well. Often a singer hasn’t had much or any classical training and sings songs that are more modern and rooted in movies or pop culture. A singer is usually overall nice to listen to but may not become a hit on the radio.
A vocalist has usually had some form of technical training that helps them to understand the correct way to project their voice, carry a tune and hit the correct notes. Typically, we consider these performers to be powerhouses and they often perform professionally in some way.
While a singer can sing, a vocalist can SING. They often have a powerful, strong and captivating voice. Their passion for the art of music helps guide them, and their ability to improve their skills, commit time to mastering the art, learn proper breathing and enunciation and to take care of their voice and vocal health sets them apart from an average singer.
Vocalists don’t always sing however; the term can be used to refer to anyone who has trained in their respective vocal category. Rappers, inuit throat singers, beatboxers and yodellers can all be considered vocalists if they’ve put in time and effort to get trained in their art.
All vocalists can be singers
It’s worth noting that while all vocalists can be singers, not all singers can be vocalists. Since vocalists are trained to use their voice in the manner needed to perform the songs they want to, they can often revert back to the simple ability to just sing a simple song and carry a tune. However, it doesn’t work in the opposite direction. A singer who hasn’t been classically trained or naturally blessed with the gift of a powerhouse voice usually can’t just suddenly perform as a vocalist.
Does the definition really matter?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which category you think you fall into. As you take singing lessons and learn the ins and outs of the craft you’ll get a feeling for whether you want to work towards the status of vocalist or just have fun creating music.
When you’re in a great learning environment with a teacher that you like and are learning songs and skills that you want to learn, the definition of what you are really doesn’t matter. The skills you learn in your vocal lessons will benefit you whether you have the gift and dedication needed to become a vocalist, or you just want to hone your skills and become a more confident singer.
Voice lessons are the perfect pastime
Even if you weren’t born with the voice of an angel, vocal lessons are an amazing pastime for anyone. You’ll not only learn how to carry a tune and read music, you’ll also walk away with confidence and the satisfaction that you set a goal, put in the work and completed what you set out to do. And you may even make some new friends in the process!