The Case of the Wobbly Voice

Alice, 43, was about to discover that her wobbly voice had little to do with age…

After several private singing sessions, Alice’s intonation and general strength and awareness was improving.

So, she took a leap in confidence and accepted an offer to sing with an up and coming covers band.

After a few band rehearsals and a gig, she noticed that her voice was wobbling on held tones and also at the top end of her range.

Alice understood that she was taxing her vocal cords much more than previously but wondered, secretly, if she was just too old for this.

I suspected that this wasn’t the issue at all…

Band Noise!

I suggested that Alice discuss the volume levels of her drummer (initially) during rehearsals.

A loud drummer means that everyone has to increase volume and soon the band are competing to be heard (this is a very common scenario with ‘local’ bands who are not put through their paces with professional sound engineers).

As we discussed the band dynamic and became clear that the drummer and guitarist were both rather absorbed in their own sound, unaware of Alice’s needs as a singer.

I clarified the issue for Alice: her eardrums were battling with incoming sound that was creating greater vibration than her own voice was creating.

This would be confusing and very challenging for even the most experienced of singers!

So Alice learned that to compensate this situation she was adding too much pressure to her laryngeal muscles in rehearsal and performance.

Coupled with a lack of experience in dealing with monitor levels, this was causing her to strain her voice.

The Diplomat

Alice followed my suggestion to invite me to her next band rehearsal.

I chatted with the guys about how we could run a session on levels for her benefit; (I felt confident that my hidden agenda would pay off!)

There was a little resistance initially but the more mature band members suggested a semi acoustic rehearsal and the result was very beneficial for all of them.

I began by asking them all to stand in the lead vocal mic area whilst the rest played at their usual levels and they all agreed that, even minus the input of their own instrument, it was just “noise”!

A Better Sound All Round!

I went to see Alice sing at their next gig and not only did she sound her old ‘warm and easy voiced’ self, but the detail and balance in the band arrangement had improved and she was shining.

It’s vital to assert the fact that you, the singer, play a vital role in being the ‘out front’ aspect of your band.

Naturally you have to work together but your persona and sense of feel, dynamic and rhythm are critical to how your band is perceived.

Insist on this, no matter how egoistic or difficult any of the players may be.