Music Education: How to cover a song without mimicking the original artist

The amazing Laura Yakas posed this query, and it’s an important one! Here are some exercises I do with my students to help break away from the original and develop your own unique approach to any song🎙 #voicelessons #singing #findyourvoice

Once you’ve broken free of the impulse to mimic an OA (original artist), you’re on your way to honoring your own unique sound! Here’s a few things you can do to break the habit. Strip the song down to its basics – pitch, rhythm, and text without stylistic affectation. If you find this difficult to do, practice singing the song in a variety of different styles or “in the style of” different singers until you have an idea of what’s central to the song and what is “style”. This frees you up to conceptualize different ways that the song can be sung. Listening to lots of covers as you do this can also help to dilute the stronghold that the original has in your mind and inspire you in your search for what is authentic to you. Finally, just as you sang the song “in the style of” other singers, try singing the song “in the style” of…you! Just like your inner voice can “play” versions of the song in other singer’s voices for you to sing along with, invite your inner voice to “play” a version of your best self for you to sing along with. How does your version vary from the other versions you sang? If you’re struggling to hear your own voice singing the song, record yourself singing it now and (kindly) imagine what that voice (your voice 🤍) singing that song incredibly well would sound like. That’s your new goal post!

Giving this a go? Let me know how you get on!

Musically yours,


Upcoming Events:

November 24th/25th – Songs of Thanks at Botticelli’s Livestream

November 27th – GRD Book Club Popup Discussion: A sonic Geography of Voice – Towards and affective politics (Online event, all welcome!)

December 3rd – Bowie Bowie at Leigh’s Sawmill

December 4th – Bill Angus and The Mighty Ways at Leigh’s Sawmill

December 16th – The San Detroit Band at Tide

December 17th – Chaos, Lament, Wail

December 22nd – Bill Angus and The Mighty Ways at The Common Room, Hastings

December 23rd – Bill Angus and The Mighty Ways at Cabana Club, Napier

December 31st – Bowie Bowie at The Secret Garden

Popup TBA – Piano and Spray Paint feat Maggie Cocco and Josh Kiwikiwi

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Wales v New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Half Time Show feat Maggie Cocco Music

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The Meaning behind “Science for Sociopaths” and new music with Beagle Radio

October 13th-14th – Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths at Whangarei Fringe *New Song Cycle Premiere*

Add lyrics to “What Else” from Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths

Video Playback: New Science for Sociopaths at Quaranpalooza

Press Week

‘Becoming’ – New Song Cycle Sneak Peek from Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths

Making Sense (and Art) of Social Media

The Maggie Cocco Band – Acoustic at Diablos Caravan

Mid Recording at Anzac Road: LIKE A MOTH

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Joey has been a Maggie Cocco Music student for 4 years! Joey has been curating two community talent shows each year for the past five years in his home town of Burlingame, California. Even the mayor attends! Joey and his cohorts are differently abled and have access to limited funds for mentorship. Joey will be starting University this year, and expects that this December’s will be his last production. As such, he hopes to finish big! Joey is seeking extra tuition for help fine tuning the production and assistance writing his own song for the finale. Subsidizing Joey costs $15/week.

New student; Tony has a strong baritone and natural musicianship. He wants to learn all the Jazz vocal standards! Tony is differently abled and has limited funds. He comes to mine for an hour+ each week. His goal is to sing with a band one day, but also to sing for fun and because it’s good for him. Subsidizing Tony costs $30/week.

Christian is a Detroit native and was recently adopted into a big loving family of 7. Mom noticed right away that Christian is a naturally gifted singer, and Christian became a Maggie Cocco Music student the first time earlier this year in preparation for her audition with the prestigious Detroit Youth Chorus. She got in – Congratulations Christian! And is now seeking ongoing lessons in music theory and vocal coaching with Maggie Cocco Music. Subsidizing Christian’s lessons costs $220/month.

Maggie Cocco Music services are Pay What You Can so that persons who mightn’t otherwise be able to afford them have access to quality music education and services. Thank you for supporting Maggie Cocco Music in this mission 🤍

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