Microphone techniques that will help improve your performance
Microphone techniques: Singers should be aware of microphone techniques as they can help improve performance and prevent any blunders to the show.
Microphone techniques and other singer’s advice can be found in the forthcoming book, The Secret to Success in the Music Industry.
How microphone techniques can improve your performance
Microphone techniques are often overlooked as one of the skills you need to become a successful singer and performer. However, the way you use the microphone can affect your performance in many ways.
Pointers on microphone techniques
Get comfortable with the microphone
When first starting out it’s only natural for singers to be very nervous when given a microphone for the first time and it often comes across in their performance. Feeling tense and holding a mic awkwardly can really affect your vocals more than you would imagine, so get to know the feeling as early as possible by practising.
If you don’t own a microphone then use a prop; although it may seem a bit lame using a bottle or hairbrush, it will definitely get you used to that feeling and soon that mic will be just like an extension of your arm and, more importantly, your voice!
Sing into the microphone
Make sure you sing right into it. It’s one of the simplest microphone techniques but it’s so SO important. Singing directly into the microphone allows all of your vocals to be fully projected. Most microphones have a radius around them that will detect noise, it’s important to hit this radius with every note you sing.
If you sing with the microphone too far away from your mouth and you won’t allow the tones, dynamics and power of your vocal to be fully captured. Already you could be at a disadvantage to other performers on stage who have mastered microphone techniques. Ideally you should keep the mic one or two centimetres from your mouth at all times except for the high or more powerful notes.
If you turn and move round the stage always maintain the same distance and if you use it as part of your performance during instrumental breaks always make sure you bring it back to your mouth. If you don’t, the projection of your vocal will be inconsistent and you’ll lose key elements in the performance of your song.
Sing into the microphone how you would usually sing
This may sound really obvious but this is especially vital for that all important sound check as the sound engineer will set your levels based on the vocal volume he or she hears. If that changes dramatically or is inconsistent in either the sound check or the actual performance they’ll simply have to guess when to put your vocal level up and down. Whether you manage to get away with it or not, chances are it will result in you not sounding your best.
Microphone techniques for singers
Avoiding feedback and distortion
Feedback is that awful sound the microphone gives out that causes everyone to wince a little, a main reason to work on your microphone techniques. One of the most common ways for a microphone to affect your performance is with feedback from the speakers or monitors. Take time to check where they’re situated on the stage and simply avoid getting too close.
Distortion occurs for a couple of reasons, one of them being a singer holding the microphone too close or too far from their mouth. The distance from your mouth to the microphone is essential as it can make your vocals sounds muffled and distant. The other reason a singer might notice distortion is when the volume is too high on their microphone. Keep the volume low enough to allow you head room to project and not peak which creates distortion.
Balance on the volume control
A very common problem singers face during a performance is not getting the balance right between the backing track and the microphone. You want the backing track to be loud enough that you can hear it but also so you can hear yourself. This can vary a lot depending on the quality and production of the track.
If you don’t have a sound engineer, the best way to solve this is through trying out various settings until you’re happy. Ideally have a third party present standing near the back of the room where you’ll be performing to ensure the microphone is loud enough for you to be heard but not be overpowering.
Hopefully you will have practised your song to give dynamics to the performance and emphasise the low and high notes whilst practising microphone techniques. This is the time you will need to pull the microphone away from your mouth on the high notes or risk feedback and being too loud – how far you pull away really depends on the volume and power you sing them with.
Far too often this is ill timed by singers and they pull the mic away too quickly thus losing the projection where it’s needed to give maximum impact. Timing is crucial and observing other seasoned singers as we’ve mentioned before, on YouTube for example, can really assist you to nail this.
Having strong microphone techniques can really help a singer enhance their performance. Breath control in particular when holding a note is crucial. If you have little breath left by the end of that important sustained note, a sudden dip in power is going to be very noticeable to you and your audience. Try pulling the microphone away from you then bring it back as the note ends. It should sound as if you held it consistently and the audience will be left remembering the power you still had to the very last second – very impressive!
Check out our other tips for singers below and check out our Open Mic UK 2016 singing auditions here.
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