Got a student who is struggling with their musical mojo? Here are five ways to help them discover their authentic vocal style.

Jo Sear is a singing teacher and performer who has helped many students in their quest to discover the holy grail of contemporary music: authenticity.

“Some artists, particularly if they write their own material, come to their own sound completely organically,” Jo says on a recent episode of the Singing Teachers Talk podcast. “But others – especially younger people – are still finding their feet.

“As a singing teacher, you don’t want to force them down any one path. But if they’re trying to find their authentic voice and don’t know where to start, it’s helpful to give them some guidelines.”

In the interview, Jo shares these five tips to help singers find their authentic vocal style.

Listen to a range of repertoire

“Listening to lots of different artists helps inform your own style. I talk to students about what kind of music they enjoy listening to, and what they can see themselves performing. Then I give them older stuff that’s in a similar ballpark. If someone wants to be Florence, from Florence + The Machine, I might get them to check out Kate Bush or Goldfrapp.”


“I tell my students that finding your own style is like trying on clothes. You try something on and look in the mirror and say ‘Is that me?’. To find your authentic voice, you’re inevitably going to be trying out some things that fit and some that don’t.”

Be student-centred

“If someone comes to you, and they want options, you can give them options – but it’s not about imposing on them. You have to be led by what the student likes, and what they appreciate. Encourage them to play and not get fixated on ‘you must do this or that’.”

Don’t forget the basics

“Regardless of the style a singer prefers, all singers need to know about the fundamentals such as functional voice training and vocal health.”

Cultural context

“Cultural context is really important. If you’re going to teach stuff like rock, pop, R’n’B or soul, you must put them into cultural context. Instead of imitating a sound that you hear somebody do without knowledge, you need to know where it comes from.”

Listen to the full interview with Jo to learn:

  • How she helps singers put their own stamp on cover versions.
  • Why she believes there should be a music course geared specifically towards a career in the contemporary music industry.