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Good Question: Why Can Some People Sing So Well?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- On Tuesday night, Late, Late Show host James Corden hosted a Carpool Karaoke special featuring Jennifer Lopez. He also showcased past performances from Adele, Elton John and Mariah Carey.

All of those musicians are considered great singers, but that's not the case for most of us. One study found 40 percent to 60 percent of non-musicians could be considered bad singers.

So, why can some people sing well? And others can't? Good Question.

"If you think about classic operatic singers, those are the athletes of the vocalization world," says Ben Munson, a speech scientist at the University of Minnesota. "But athletes are not just born, they're also made."

First, Munson says good singers were born with an amazing instrument that include lungs with superb vital capacity, exceptional breath control, a larynx that allows them to stretch and squash their vocal cords to achieve vocal range and vocal tract they can contort.

"Some people are born with a very good instrument that they can exploit and learn to use," Munson says.

In addition, good singers also have a good ear to hear when they're singing well. They have very good pitch perception that allows them to map out in their minds what they should sound like and change it if it's not working.

"Certain singers are adept at hearing certain differences that many bad singers can't hear and that's not the only ingredient in the pie," Munson says.

He says research has shown very good singers are generally those people who have been singing their entire lives and have the personality traits that encourage practice. And, while confidence isn't everything, good singers generally feel comfortable singing in front of a group.

But, can you practice your way into becoming a great singer?

"A bad singer can become a better singer," says Munson. "Can anyone become Mariah Carey or Pavarotti? Absolutely not."

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