February 2, 2019

About the Author: Amy Hollinrake

Amy Hollinrake is a London-based musician and performer specialising in American folk traditions and Jazz, and performs on both her voice and the Mountain Dulcimer. Inspired by feminist thought and folklore, her music weaves new ideas with old to present original and traditional material to modern audiences, by engaging with female voices preserved in traditional Appalachian balladry. Amy is MMus Popular Music graduate from Goldsmiths University, London where she specialised in vocal studies under Brigitte Beraha, and was also the Bert Jansch award winner 2018 for musical excellence. Further, she was awarded her undergraduate degree from City University, London, with performance tuition from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she specialised in Jazz vocals under Lee Gibson. Amy performs both as a solo artist, a session musician and in a variety of ensembles and has performed most notably at the Royal Academy of the Arts, BBC Radio and The Albany Theatre. In 2016, she recorded her début EP with Backwater records which has since received successful reviews and she will be recording a second in 2019. In addition to performance, she has further developed her academic profile in exploring the relationships between women, politics and music. Her recent writings and publications have dealt with issues of representation of women in Appalachian folk music, and feminist approaches to their interpretation. In addition to academic writing Amy also is a freelance music reviewer for Songlines and Froots publications. Finally, Amy is an established private music tutor and at the London Singing Institute. She teaches in a range of styles, and is trained to a high standard in Jazz, Popular and Music Theatre vocals and methods such as Estill and the Alexander Technique.

When learning to sing, or singing for the very first time, many people tend to imitate a favourite singer or vocal style. While taking inspiration from our favourite vocalists is a good place to start (especially for developing new ideas and style), without blending with your own ‘natural’ sound, it can lead to developing a voice that is a copy or reproduction of someone else’s.So how do we find our unique voice? There are many exercises we can do to either begin to find our natural voice, or to undo ingrained habits of altering the voice in a way that produces a highly-affected sound.

Obviously, there will be times when you will want to produce a certain vocal style or ‘colour’ more suited to a specific genre, but it’s important to have a solid understanding of your own natural sound so that you can confidently and suitably manipulate it – while still sounding like you!

Here are a few things to consider, and exercises you can try either on your own or with your vocal tutor to start to find your natural, unique singing voice:

  • Firstly, remove vocal tension through stretching the body and singing scales to ‘blah’ to open and loosen the vocal tract (a relaxed larynx sound).
  • Exercise breath control through long exhales to ‘shh’.
  • Experiment with each of the five basic vowels used in singing. These vowels are EE – EH – AH – OH – OO.
  • Try speaking lyrics first and emulate that pronunciation.
  • If you are completely relaxed and rid of all tension, you should feel vibrations around the hard palate, the nasal area, as well as under the eye sockets. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘mask region’.
  • Once your speaking feels natural and free, try to do the same thing, but on a steady monotone pitch or simple melody. Try to do it in the same simple, conversational way check your voice still moving naturally and freely.

Experiment with these exercises and try to shift your perception and intention when you sing, to allow your voice to resonate in the most natural way!

Tags: Finding your singing voice, Unique voice

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Tags: Finding your singing voice, Unique voice