Do you sing cover songs or jazz standards? Do you find yourself singing just like the artist on the recording? Would you like to sound more like yourself when you sing, and less like an imitation of another singer?
Here are a bunch of ways to help you break out of the box of what you hear and find your own voice.
- Play with dynamics (getting louder and softer at different times). Intentionally try using different dynamics than the dynamics the original artist used.
- Play with phrasing – the way that words are expressed in groups, and the way that syllables land on different beats. Try connecting words that aren’t connected in the original recording, drawing out syllables or phrases longer, starting lines early or late, and ending lines early or late.
- Speak the lines naturally, with emotion, and see what kind of natural melody and phrasing your spoken language suggests. Then translate that melody back into actual pitches and phrasings.
- Try either adding or completely removing vocal embellishments (vocal licks, riffs, trills).
- Tie the lyrics of the story to a story of your own that means something to you. Think about your own story when expressing the song.
- Tie the lyrics of the story to how you feel today. Shade the lyrics with your current emotional state.
- Create a detailed image of a character in the song, down to hair color, the way they dress and talk, etc. Then pretend you are this person. Step out of your skin and into the skin of this character and sing as they would sing.
- Pretend you are a different singer, other than the artist on the recording. If you are learning a tune that Ella Fitzgerald sings, imagine how Aretha Franklin or Grace Slick might sing it.
There are still lots of other ways to sing better when you sing cover songs and jazz. How many ways can you think of?
(c) 2009 Adrienne Osborn