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Why do some people have great voices, and others don't?

Good Question: Why do some people have great voices, and others don’t?
Good Question: Why do some people have great voices, and others don’t? 02:59

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- The Grammy Awards are coming up this Sunday at 7pm on WCCO. Like every year, some truly talented singers are nominated.

So, what makes a great singer? Good Question.

"I feel like all singing can be good singing," says Ella Wiggs, a junior in the Apple Valley High School Choir.

She remembers singing to Michael Jackson as a young child, while her mother uploaded her videos to YouTube. Fellow choirmate Charlie Krohn said as young as 8 years old, he was singing in the shower. And, junior Carmen Puente her singing started with her sister as their dad played the guitar.

"For some people that comes naturally, for others, it doesn't," Puente says.

Minneapolis College vocal instructor Sarah M. Greer defines "good" singing as a resonant tone produced with ease. But, she points out opinions on singing voices are subjective, individual and cultural.

"What we think of us as good sound here in Minnesota, in the United States, might be different from what we think of good sound in South Asia or Australia," Greer says.

She believes singing is an athletic activity and we all start at different places. Differences in vocal folds, mouths, and throats can produce unique voices. Growing up around good sound helps too, as many singers learn from imitation.

"Some of us are Michael Phelps and some of us are in the kiddie pool," she says. "Some people just understand innately the things you need to sound good."

Greer points to three basics to singing well. First, she says people need to be able to match the rhythm and timing of the music. Second, they need to be able to remembers the notes, the phrases and the words. And, third, they need to be able to match a pitch accurately. She said the third component is usually the hardest.

"Matching pitch is coordination," she says. "It's making the vocal cords the right length to hear the cords in your head."

She says those three components are just the basics, because what makes a voice even better are vibrato, resonant tone and good pronunciation.

The students in the Apple Valley Choir believe a big part of "good" singing is confidence. Greer says voices can improve with training and exposure.

"I would say I could teach someone to be better than they sang when we started," she says.

Ultimately, the most important pieces, Greer believes, is to enjoy what you're doing.

"Having a good voice is part of that," said Krohn. "But it's not everything."

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