I'm fortunate enough to teach a number of students who have real promise in a variety of disciplines, ranging through pop, singer/songwriter and musical theatre ... even a couple who haven't quite decided yet, but could go in any one of these directions.
However, something that was present in most of them when they first started was 'the mimic'. What I mean by this is the student who sings three different songs in three different voices! We no longer head down to HMV on a Saturday to browse this week's top 40 or the genre we're most interested in, then decide which music to purchase: we simple log on to the internet and can pretty much find whatever we're looking for at the touch of a button ... this is the blessing.
The curse for the singer is using the original artist to sing along to ... repeatedly. If you sing along to Adele too much (as an example), you will end up picking up a number of her signature sounds ... however, you won't do it quite like her ... plus the major factor here ... you'll miss the opportunity to sing it your way. A massive pet hate of mine is when singers don't truly find their own voice. This is determined by so many factors and below are my top tips on how to move away from your favourite singers traits and towards finding your own:
- First and foremost; once you are familiar with the song you want to sing, stop singing along to the original artist - this will limit the bad habit forming. Because of the easy access to music, the internet is also littered with versions of the song you love, with just the backing. If you know the tune, but not the words, just search for the lyrics on the web, copy and paste and print them out ... simples!
- Expose yourself to all the music you love. It's an obvious thing to say, but to sing, being interested in music is a must. Make some time to go down the 'Spotify rabbit hole' (other music apps are available!). What I mean by this, is discover new artists, bands, genres even and keep listening and learning. This journey will help you find new artists, songs, even a new style you'd like to get in to and can ultimately help to shape and define your own style.
- Track back your heroes, heroes. They won't always be the folk you expect and you'll discover songs you love more than some of your current favourites and even writers, artists and other influencers you might not expect to find. I wrote a related article on this earlier this year called 'Heroes and Idols'
These are great starting points; there are also a number of techniques I use in lessons to straighten these habits out, then identify the unique sounds each student has to harness and develop them.