Sounds Like …

Posted by on Jun 22 2009 | Singing Lessons, Songtaneous

Billie Holiday

“If I’m going to sing like
someone else, then I don’t
need to sing at all.”
Billie Holiday

This takes a while to figure out. (Well, it took me a while.) As we learn to sing, a big part of how we learn is through imitation. And if you sing “out and about” every one wants to know what style you sing and who you sound like. (“So …  who are your influences?”)

More important, when you love to sing, you listen to everyone (and everything), you imitate everyone and you want to be able to do what everyone else can do. Scatting, wailing, bebop or beat box. Tuvan throat singing. (Maybe that’s just me? *smile*)

Singers and songs enchant you. You love everything about them. You want to embody them and so you strive to reproduce them … exactly. And in doing that, something is lost. Your perspective. Your approach. Your unique sound that creates the version of the song that only you can sing.

My former teacher, Judi Vinar, tells students: “Sing a song as if this is the first and last time you’ll ever sing it.” While at first this advice might seem daunting, it’s also empowering. It’s an invitation to figure out what you want to say by singing that song in that moment.

Moral of the story? Sound like you.

(Nobody else does you know. *smile*)

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5 comments for now

5 Responses to “Sounds Like …”

  1. […] great quotes from Sonia Simone. “Define yourself. When you let other people do it, they just mess it […]

    03 Jul 2009 at 10:55 am

  2. “Sing it like it was the first AND last time you were singing the song” is amazing advice. When you are recording, in some ways, a song it IS the first and last time you are singing it. Take for instance, Whitney Houston’s recording of “I Will Always Love You.” One of its biggest strengths is its powerful emotion. A bajillion people have heard it a bajillion times each, and 99.9%+ of all times hearing it have been the original Whitney recording of it.


    04 Jul 2009 at 4:54 pm

  3. (Welcome to my blog, Jacob!)

    Yeah, that Judi, she’s pretty amazing. *smile*

    I like your point about recording. I know many a singer who freezes up at the though of being recorded for posterity. But that’s the blessing of the moment, too. The possibility to capture a moment when you are completely present in a song. (Besides, unlike performance, you CAN sing the song again! *wink*)


    06 Jul 2009 at 7:08 am

  4. […] But, a performance also needs to feel fresh and present, as though the music being made or the song being sung are being created as we watch. (My former voice instructor often told us to “sing a song as though it were the first and last time it would ever be sung.“) […]

    27 Mar 2011 at 11:31 pm

  5. […] In other words, how do you sound like … you? […]

    08 Apr 2016 at 1:06 am

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