If you do all your practicing in the same room, you may be setting yourself up for a difficulty you’d never suspect. -says Jeannie Deva
Some years ago, I was preparing for a concert in South America. Every day I practiced on my own, working through each technical and performance detail of the 22 songs selected for my two-hour concert. From my many weeks of practicing, I gained complete comfort with the performance of each song.
To develop aspects such as song interpretation, melodic improvisation and intonation, I worked on the songs a cappella (without accompaniment). To unify my song performance with my mic technique and comfort hearing my voice coming through speakers, I practiced with my PA and instrumental backing tracks.
Then the day came to practice with my band. I was totally ready. In great anticipation, I went to the practice room we had rented. After a sound-check which included making sure I could hear myself easily through the monitors and above the band, we began the first song. I was totally thrown off. My voice felt totally different – almost foreign in sensation. I struggled to achieve notes that just the day before had been a breeze.
What was throwing me off?
After great deliberation, I discovered the obstacle I had run into: I had become so accustomed to the acoustics of singing in my personal practice room that when I finally changed rooms and changed acoustics, the FEEL of singing changed. As a result, the physical approach to singing each song was now totally different.
How we physically work with our vocal instrument has a lot to do with how we hear ourselves.
This is why it’s so important to match your voice with the right mic and know how to work with your sound equipment.
And frequently this is why singers can have difficulty singing in the recording studio when they can sing the same song with ease elsewhere – the mic isn’t the right one for the characteristics of their voice or there’s some other mismatched aspect of the studio electronics or acoustics.
When the sound we hear back is an alteration of the sound we’re intending (and may actually be creating), we’ll tend to unthinkingly manipulate our vocal muscles in an attempt to sound the way we imagine.
From then on I began to practice my repertoire in at least 3 different rooms in my home: my music room (an acoustically live environment), my family room (wall-to-wall rug and lots of furniture = an acoustically dead environment) and my hallway, a totally different acoustic environment.
Result: I never again had that problem. Try this yourself. You’ll see what I mean.
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Rozi Brennan – “Katy on a Mission” by Katy B (Cover)
Hi Rozi. Thanks for your video. This was a very nice song selection for you. I think choosing the right song is half the battle, so to speak, so good pick! Your voice is very pretty and you easily accomplished the full range of the song. I also like that you accompanied yourself on the piano – by doing so you gave it a different spin than the original version. Things to work on: practice keeping a steady beat as you play so that you don’t rush and then slow the tempo. Working with a metronome can help with that. Also, if you can get your piano tuned you won’t accustom yourself to hearing notes that are sour – and that will also add to the musicality of your videos. Finally, it was not easy to understand the lyrics. Some of that may be that your piano was louder than your vocal, partially because the room you’re in is very resonant. Perhaps putting a blanket over your piano the next time can help to tone it down and let your vocal take the audio spotlight.
Kayzel Mendoza – “Die in Your Arms” by Justin Bieber (Cover)
What an interesting choice Kayzel! I love the ukulele on this song as well as your singing. This is a wonderful example of how to make someone else’s song your own version. You sang with complete involvement and believability – really making this song your own communication. Your stylizing, your embellishments and tonal qualities all aligned to the song and message and you used these aspects to express emotion. Fantastic job. Keep ‘em coming!
SkyBlue – “Every Corner of the World”
This video is completely pro. Was this a concert in Italy? Both lead and backup vocals are tastefully done as is the musical arrangement and musicianship of the band. This song is performed with just the right amount of drama. I couldn’t always understand the lyrics but the performance and alignment of all other details got across the desire, urgency, conviction and feeling of the song. The female singer is a wonderful complement to the male lead and you both work beautifully together, vocally and visually. Kudos to SkyBlue.
Jeannie Deva is a celebrity voice and performance coach, recording studio vocal producer and originator of the world renowned Deva Method®, Complete Voice Technique for Stage and Studio™ now celebrating 37 years of helping singers achieve excellence. Endorsed by producers and engineers of Aerosmith, Bette Midler and many others, Jeannie teaches in her Los Angeles studios as well as… READ MORE.