The Perks and Pitfalls of Mimicking as a Singer
I’m thrilled to be talking about the topic of mimicking as a singer today! As singers we really want to find our authentic voices as we build our careers, create our art and brand, and perform. In this pursuit I often find that singers are mimicking without knowing it – and it is holding them back from the power, freedom, and skill that they are capable of. Knowing the perks of mimicking, and learning how to turn the pitfalls into perks is hugely important. Even if you don’t think you’re mimicking, read on!
What is Mimicking?
Mimicking is the act of copying how something sounds, or how something is done to sound or feel a certain way. BUT it isn’t always intentional. We may be singing along to the radio, and because our ear picks up on what the singer is doing, we naturally mimic. When we love how our favorite artist phrases something, or how much power they sing with, we may try to do what they’re doing to sound is good. Or, if you’re trying to learn a riff, arrangement, or decoration, you may be mimicking. Let’s go over the ups and downsides!!
The Perks of Mimicking
One perk of mimicking another artist as a singer is that you have something concrete to work towards, listen for, and create. It’s a great thing when you’re practicing because it gives you something very clear to work towards. Nothing wrong with that! Another thing that’s great about mimicking is that you’re able to copy and repeat something, which has massive value in the industry. Another great thing about mimicking is that it allows you to explore your voice. It can help you search for different ways to create a certain texture or sound. This is hugely underrated when it comes to practicing singing. Finally, mimicking can help you understand what it is that you value and want to do and be as an artist.
The Pitfalls of Mimicking
While all of those perks are fantastic, there’s of course pitfalls to mimicking as a singer. First, it’s almost impossible to mimic and also sing in your own authentic sound at the same time. The sounds you replicate require you to make adjustments (in your body, throat, or mouth for example). These adjustments often take us further away from our own natural way of singing. This can often create a wall between you and your audience – and I think our job is to remove those walls, so our audience can receive your full personality and art.
Remember, as singers we all have different “instruments”. Our bodies are all different – and that’s what makes our voices unique. When we try to mimic someone, we can be adding unnecessary stress and tension to our voices. Imagine a trumpet trying to make the sound of a piccolo. It would have to change its size and shape in order to do so. It’s important to know that when we mimic, we may be knowingly or unknowingly changing the size and shape of our instrument. Doing this can put more pressure on our voice and eventually lead to undue stress and fatigue.
The best thing that we can do as singers is to take those pitfalls of mimicking and turn them into perks! Take what you love about other singers and learn how to put it into your voice authentically. At that point, we’re exploring and no longer mimicking. Instead, we’re creating our own art.