How to Change Your Vocal Style – Learn to Sing in a Different Musical Genre

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It can be difficult to change your vocal style.

  • It is important to be aware of the features of the style that you wish to change.
  • It is important to know how to sing differently.
  • You should be able and willing to sing authentically in the new musical language.

Throughout my professional singing career, I have had to adapt my vocal style. As a jingle vocalist, I had to control my tendency toward slurs. As a background singer, I had to learn the styles of various artists. As a club singer, I learned pop, r&b, and jazz earlier in my career. After I signed my first record deal, I had to create my own style. Here are some tips and tricks that I have learned from my experience:

  1. Listen to the singers who have perfected your chosen style. You can immerse yourself into the rhythms, melodies and vocal embellishments (licks), as well as the articulation they use.
  2. DISSECT the performances. Where does the beat fall in comparison to the lyrics? Are they able to sing along with the beat? Do they “lay back” or “on top” of it? What are their typical vocal licks? Pop & rock, for instance, is more often sung straight than country and r&b.
  3. MIME is the song that traces the style. You can do the singing exercises with the master artist but not make a sound. This is important because you must do it physically, but not audibly. If your audience is deaf, they should be able to hear the lyrics and melody through your body language and face.
  4. SING with the artist (audibly). Make sure to trace them accurately. To learn the correct vocal techniques, consult a trusted vocal coach if you are having trouble with vocal licks and runs.
  5. Sing without the artist…with track music like Karaoke tracks and piano/guitar work cassettes.
  6. Record yourself singing over the tracks or a cappella. You can play it back and evaluate your performance.
  7. Perform original songs – Get or create original material in this genre. This is where you can really connect with the style.

You must take the time to be real with the genre. Before you can paint others’ masterpieces, you have to make the transition to singing the genre in your own way. How do you know if you’re doing it right?

  1. Ask yourself if the song is something you can perform naturally and with a good focus on the lyrics. You will feel unfocused numbness and uneasy self-consciousness if you still aren’t confident singing the style.
  2. Listen to the feedback of your audience on live and recorded performances. It is possible to watch them listen to your performances to get cues about how they are moving. You can also ask them after the performance to share their thoughts.
  3. Listen to your recording. Are you sure?

Congratulations if you can answer yes to all three questions. You’ve learned a new style.

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