Posted by: aliveinthewild | October 6, 2016

I Want to Sound Just Like…… But Do You?

Almost every musician has a favorite other musician they’d like to emulate. Mine is… hmmm… there are so many! On harp, I’d love to sound like Kim Robertson or Harper Tasche. On banjo I’d like to sound like Adam Hurt. You get the idea. Only one trouble: I will never sound like them. If I do what it takes to play as well as they do, I will still sound different.

Striving to sound just like your favorite musician is a noble pursuit, especially because it can inspire you to great accomplishment. But think about it: once you reach that goal, what next? Since that musician’s music already exists, no one wants a carbon copy. What they want is something unique. Why sacrifice your true musical identity to sound like someone else? Even if you got all the notes and nuances identical, people would know. You can’t reproduce another person’s soul.

Everyone’s music sounds different because no two people have the same personality. You can give the same piece to two equally skilled musicians and ask them to learn it note for note, and when they have done so, you’ll be able to hear differences in phrasing, tone, emphasis, and so on. You will never be that other musician. If you are willing to work for it, you can instead be an equally skilled musician who sounds just like… you.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to make progress. After all, you have to live with yourself. That’s not fun if your conscience knows you haven’t done your best. Don’t sell yourself short. Many musicians don’t work at this because they believe less of themselves than they are truly capable of. If you push yourself beyond your perceived boundaries, you will probably be surprised at what you can do.

SO… how can you become your best musical you? We are ALL still on our way to wherever our best is. Yes, even the most accomplished musicians. Study with musicians whom you respect, and don’t assume there’s a stopping point after which you don’t need to study anymore. Everyone can make progress. There are very few people who cannot become fabulously good musicians. It just takes dedication and a willingness to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know, and you can learn what you need to learn.

Never stop learning. Never stop striving for your best. You have a light to shine in the world!



  1. Good post, Laurie. I wonder how many people tape themselves (or whatever the technology is now) so they can listen without having to think about the process of playing. They might become more aware of how they sound, what they like and what they might want to change. I never did but probably should have!

    By the way, there’s an extra “s” on Sounds in the title. Thought you’d want to know.

    Love, Joyce


    • Good suggestion Joyce! Recording oneself is always an eye-opener!
      And I’ll fix that typo!

  2. Thank you for the post, Laurie. I needed to see this, and the timing was exactly right.

  3. Love this….I am always telling my students to develop their own style, and it is not as hard as that sounds. Sometimes ones’s own style contains moves and sounds “borrowed” or adopted from one’s favorite players, mixed in with their own touches and ways of doing things. We have a lot of fun leading students to developing their own ways, but often it develops over time, but listening to everyone you can. And Laurie….many people want to play like YOU!

  4. Well said, Laurie! Finding your groove can sometimes take a lifetime. I am finding that out at 72! Yes, never stop learning, and let your love become your passion.

  5. At his phase in my learning to play the harp, I find inspiration in many beautiful pieces played on the harp by many different musicians. I feel excitement and encouragement to practice when I listen to my large collection of CDs. Finding my own style? I trust that that will evolve as my skills are increasing. Thank you, Laurie, for helping me to keep my fire fueled during my lessons with you! And I agree with Iris: I do want to play like YOU!

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