Moving from Studio To Stage

Make the necessary adjustments to stay at the top of your vocalist game – says Rachel Lebon

These days, emerging artists record their albums, post on YouTube, stage rehearsals with sophisticated “live sound design”, test audiences, then, finally, go on tour.

So, what are the best things to remember about singing in the studio and on the stage – and what are the differences?

In the Studio:

• Expensive, studio microphones respond to your most subtle utterances, from the softest to the loudest dynamic, exacting control of dynamics.

• Since you have an individual vocal track for equalization, effects and mixing, your vocals are very present, enabling words to project clearly over the rhythm track.

• Speaking of background rhythm tracks, you can monitor over the earphones, adjusting so you can hear yourself clearly without pushing

• You can “punch in” (rewind to repair a pre-recorded track) within a phrase, word or note to perfect it.

Live in concert:

• Audience noise entails that every movement and utterance be bolder and more deliberate to project in a larger “theatre” or ambience.

• Your voice is competing with instruments in somewhat cavernous venues, so your “intimate” passages need to be a bit “bigger” in presentation with increased clarity of enunciation to bring the audience in, since you don’t have the isolation afforded in the studio.

• Monitors (preferably ear-monitors) are crucial, since we reflexively push when we cannot hear ourselves. (the “Lombard Effect”)

• No “punching in” to correct, so you must think on your feet and camouflage trouble spots.

Laying a vocal track in the recording studio entails vocal adjustments while performing live in a large venue presents its own challenges.

Remember to take a look at the above checklist when you are making the switch between the two.

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vid

Sartay Simon – Tears or Raindrops (Original)

Sartay, I really like the tune and the rhythmic vibe – nice performance! Your strumming complemented the lyrics and your natural voice quality was engaging. Let’s step back now and “hear with the eyes”. After all, a YouTube posting has to make a visual as well as an aural impact. Allow your involvement with the song to be reflected in your eyes so that your emotional connection to the song becomes clearer. Also, for a sense of completeness, hold the last word and wait a moment in order to maintain the mood prior to turning off the recorder.

-Rachel L. Lebon, Phd

Rachel L. Lebon, Ph.D. has been a professional vocalist and studio singer in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Nashville and Miami. She was on the faculty at Belmont College and is currently at the University of Miami, has toured toured world-wide with “Tops in Blue” and on a State Department tour of the Soviet Union and Portugal. Rachel is the author of two published books and conducts lectures, symposia and adjudication worldwide on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders.