See your microphone as a part of your vocal personality –says Jeannie Deva.
The moment you step up to a mic your acoustic instrument turns electric.
Suddenly, aspects of vocal technique need to adjust and a singer’s solid acoustic technique can become shaky.
Nowadays, there are things about mics and mic technique that are pretty common knowledge.
But even if you’ve been using a mic for a while, there may yet be a few tricks to the trade that if applied, would make singing on mic easier, help you sound better, and lower the risk of vocal fatigue.
1. Choose a mic that fits your sound and style: Which model you use will either enhance or detract from the sound of your voice. If the mic doesn’t fit the personality of your voice, you can instinctively tense throat muscles in an attempt to compensate for the electronic alteration. Some mics have more power than others and are best designed for loud bands (dynamic mics) while others are more sensitive and appropriate for intimate settings (condenser mics).
2. Think of the mic as part of your voice: Consider the mic part of your voice and your monitor speakers an extension of your ears. Rather than pushing your voice through the mic, think of the mic as reaching to you to receive and amplify your voice.
3. Hold the shaft of the mic, not the head: It may look cool, but holding the head of the mic can muffle the sound of your voice and risk electronic feedback squeal through the PA.
4. Know how to angle the mic: Incorrect mic placement filters out important tonal characteristics and results in an inferior sound. Sing into the center, the “nose,” of your mic – not the side nor across the top of it.
5. Proximity makes a difference: Mics respond differently depending upon how close or far they are from your mouth when singing loudly or softly. A mic will pick up a fuller quality of your voice best when your mouth is positioned one-half to one inch away. Turn your head slightly to the left or right of the mic when singing louder or, pull the mic slightly farther away and then back as you decrease your volume.
6. Don’t be a drifter: Your audience wants to understand what you’re singing. If you move your head away as you taper the end of your phrase, your voice will drop out of the mix. Keep your mouth directed to the mic through each phrase you sing.
7. Back-off on consonants: Emphasizing most consonants will cause disruptive pops and hisses. Think of your consonants as needing the same amount of air as the subsequent vowel sounds. Vowels ARE the sounds of your voice, consonants are the rhythmic articulators.
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Bauner Chafin – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (Cover)
I appreciate that you worked on putting your own “spin” on this song. And, you also developed the emotion and dynamic of the song as you went along, which is perfect. At this point in your development, your musical ideas are a bit beyond your ability to execute them. This is great from the standpoint that, if you use it this way, you are pushing yourself to grow; challenging yourself to do and achieve more rather than live in a careful comfort zone. So vocally, having the exercises that will help you achieve more range with total ease would be the ticket. On another note, all the reverb you used might sound good in your room, and I get the mood you were trying to achieve. On camera without a top of the line recording device, it sounds boomy and reduces the quality for the listener. Check out the videos that I’m including in each of the four weeks of my vocal coach residency here – there may be some cool exercises you can use to begin widening your range and vocal ease.
Oliwia Sobieszek – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (Cover)
Oliwia – You sang this song with a good sense of dynamics. When you sang the louder passages, you displayed excellent tone and control. You used the musical passages to predict and add emotion and I found myself wondering if you know what this song is about – what the story of it is? It’s helpful to study the lyrics, understand them and from there create your own story with them. This permits you to BE the song and elevates your performance. Then, when singing more quietly, make sure you follow through with each phrase the way you do when singing full volume: do not let the last word drop out. Working on aspects of performance will be the perfect marriage to the wonderful voice you have.
Anastasia – “Yesterday” by The Beatles (Cover)
This was quite a surprise as I never expected to hear an operatic version of this song! You look lovely and sang the song with conviction. The training you have received is mezzo – a deep dark and cavernous voice: a sound not normally expected from someone so young! There were times when your voice glided beautifully. However I’m sure you are also aware of the times when there were little “glitches”: when your voice broke slightly and so interrupted the intended vocal quality and phrasing. This was caused by muscular tension from holding your tongue too low and tight, jamming up your larynx. The times I’ve trained classical vocalists, I’ve found you can actually achieve a fuller freer voice if you imagine the sound you want and let (don’t hold) the muscles of the back of your tongue, soft palate and back wall of the throat. Muscles prefer to work themselves, so to speak. Even if the muscles need to maintain a certain position, it’s better to let them respond to the sound you imagine rather than holding them in a pre-set position which will cause tension.
Jeannie Deva is an International Vocalist, Grammy member, Celebrity Voice and Performance Coach, Author of voice enhancement books and CDs, and a Recording Studio Vocal Specialist endorsed by Producers and Engineers for Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones. Originator of The Deva Method®, Complete Technique for Stage and Studio™ her unique method is used by singers and teachers worldwide.