Students often tell us they want to sound like their favorite singer but then struggle to define what that means. And that’s understandable since sound is elusive and can be difficult to describe. What they are trying to say, however, is there are certain vocal descriptors they want to emulate. To create your own sound, focus on three descriptors you enjoy hearing that you want to build into your voice. Not sure where to begin? In this tutorial, Coach Tara and Coach Nikki share examples of some descriptors commonly found in mainstream singing right now.


Moaning is a descriptor not usually thought of, but it can really add flavor to your song. Think of this as a soulful hum that’s usually followed by a riff or a run. A riff or run can be done open-mouthed, but when it is done with a closed mouth, it really lends itself to genres like gospel and R&B.

Slide and Growl

These two vocal styles can be done separately but are a great example of how you can build one descriptor on top of another. 

The slide is a smooth and continuous movement up or down the scale and is often accompanied with a growl. A growl is like a double tone to your voice. An easy way to practice a growl is by clearing your throat, but don’t do this too much as it’s not healthy for you if overdone. When a slide and growl are used in combination, the sound is very “Christina Aguilera-ish.”

Recipe for Success

Other vocal descriptors can include vocal fry, riffs and runs, head voice, and whistle. Think of all of these elements like cooking ingredients. Have fun experimenting with them, adding a little bit of this or a dash of that to create your own sound. Remember, your tone is unique to you, it’s God-given, it’s perfect. So use your favorite singer as inspiration, not duplication, as you create your own perfect recipe of vocal styling. If you want in-depth help in building vocal descriptors in your voice, then check out Voice On at:

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