25 Apr 2015

Voice Lessons: How Using A Mic May Be Hurting Your Voice… and What To Do About It


The voice is one of the only instruments that the creator of the sound does not have an accurate perception of how the sound is being heard.


The quality of your voice sounds different in your head.


With this in mind, let’s add in the factor of using a sound system and mic and monitors and sound engineers as your sole source of vocal feedback.


Now, not only do you not know what you sound like, but you are listening to yourself through artificial means that change per venue, system, and engineer.


As a professional, you know that consistency is crucial – but trusting solely in sound systems will not give you the consistent results that you want.


So, how can we work with these tools to support your artistry?


Photo Credit: By Bonnie ([1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: By Bonnie ([1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First, let’s identify the potential issues…


The domino effect of relying on the amplification system to judge your voice may go something like this…


1. Your perceived quality of your voice will vary depending on the quality of the sound system, the skills of the engineer, and the room.


2.  Based on what you hear and/or the feedback given to you by the sound engineer, you may strive to make vocal adjustments to “fix” the sound.


3.  These on-the-spot adjustments will not be practiced in your vocal technique, but rather a quick fix to meet an immediate need and potentially injurious to your vocal health and core sound.


4. Do this on a repeated basis and chronic vocal issues may arise, and your career may be in jeopardy.


Photo Credit: Flickr www.audio-luci-store.it
Photo Credit: Flickr www.audio-luci-store.it



What do you do?


1. Stop Listening to the Monitor


– Do a quick sound check and forget it.


– During performance, I want you singing from a feeling place, relying on the healthy vocal technique that you develop in your practice time and when working with your singing instructor or vocal coach.


2. Sing and Speak to the Back of the Room


– A common request from a sound engineer and from an audience in a room you are addressing is to sing or speak louder. This must be practiced on your own time or with your coach without a microphone. Your vocal resonance and breath management is a physical sensation that needs to be memorized in the body.


3. Bring the Mic to You


– Leaning into a stationary mic can wreak havoc on your technique and your psyche 


– When you shift your posture to go to the mic, you may be creating tension in the back, shoulder, neck, jaw, larynx,  – you may be sacrificing the integrity of the very areas that are crucial to assisting your sound.


– Rather than giving your all and going to the people in your performance, why not shift that belief a bit and bring the people to you. Relax back into a grounded, energized posture, drink in the air, and deliver the sound from that place. You can still be passionate and engaging. And when the time comes to make an artful choice and lean in – it is a choice and not a habit. Which is empowering to you and the audience.


Photo Credit: By John Kell from London (Image on Flickr Uploaded by UAwiki) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: By John Kell from London (Image on Flickr Uploaded by UAwiki) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Manipulate Your Environment


– Experiment with different mic set-ups

           – Head set

           – Ambiant mic

           – Holding the mic


5. Make Friends with the Sound Engineer


– Educate yourself on the lingo and communicate with the sound engineer. Let her know what you need and discuss the limitations that may be in the room. You don’t have to be just another speaker or singer doing a gig. You can co-create this experience.


Embrace the responsibility to care for your voice. Do the vocal work necessary to build that intimate relationship. This precious understanding will transcend any mic or sound system.


It is like a tender conversation with a lover. You will feel it – you will know when it is right on and when it’s off. Go from this place.

Let this place guide your sound and you will have your voice, your song, your message, and your passion with you for a lifetime.


Until next week, Always Rejoice In Your Voice™!

xoxox, Tricia



One comment

  1. This is so important. The sound system I know of changes regularly – sometimes it is blastingly loud and other times too soft – a sound engineer has looked at it but different people with access to the venue keep changing the volumes. As a result the voice gets pushed, or you cannot hear yourself sing, or some voices are louder or softer. I’d like to rely on my natural resonance and be consistent with this, so am focussing my energies on that – it can be so frustrating Tricia! I’m hoping this is where a regular good body technique comes in, no matter what the microphone system. Should you aim to train your voice to be powerfully loud anyway, to use that at will? That’s what I like most in opera singers, but guess it takes years to master 🙂


Write a Reply or Comment