How to Imitate Singers

By Lena Freund
To learn to imitate a singer, record yourself and listen to the playback.

Imitating a favorite singer will take a lot of work and practice and a good ear. In order to be able to do a good imitation of a singer, listen to that singer’s voice and to his or her vocal phrasing, that is, how the singer breaks phrases by breathing and how often he or she uses vibrato in those phrases. If you wish to write songs in the style of someone, listen to the singer and determine what elements are regularly used in songwriting.

Choose a singer to imitate, either in vocal style or in songwriting style.

Study that singer’s lyrics if the goal is to imitate a songwriting style. How does that singer write? Are the songs love songs, with specific kinds of declarations of love? Are the songs stories about people or places that might be more characteristic of a folk song?

Play the songs that you write for your family and friends and see if they think your compositions are close to the original singer’s material.

Listen to the singer’s voice. How does he or she sing? If you have chosen Michael Jackson, for example, listen to his voice: it is usually a high-pitched falsetto and his phrases are very breathy. Gloria Estefan, by contrast, is very smooth and melodic and usually adds vibrato -- the trilling of the voice -- at the ends of her vocal phrases.

Practice your singer’s vocal style by singing along with his or her songs. Try to imitate as closely as you can.

Record yourself singing the person’s songs. Play back the recording and listen to it to see how you did. Continue to practice this regularly.

Tip

Hire a voice coach to help you if you have the funds. If you are a performing musician, a vocal coach will help you with the accuracy of your imitations while teaching you proper vocal techniques in order not to ruin your voice. You will learn correct breathing techniques and breath control, as well as ways to improve pitch accuracy.

Warning

Do not stop practicing. The only way to get really good in music is to practice over and over, preferably every day. Keep a practice log if you need to chart your practice time. This will also help you to see how long it took you to get results and can be rewarding.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Lena Freund began writing professionally in 2007, while living in Tel Aviv. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Middle Eastern studies and Hispanic studies from the College of William & Mary and a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern history from Tel Aviv University. Freund's articles about travel, languages and cultures have been published on various websites.