Performing Like a Singing Pro: Using the Microphone - dummies

Performing Like a Singing Pro: Using the Microphone

By Pamelia S. Phillips

Microphones (mics, for short; pronounced like the name Mike) can be secured on a stand, held by hand, set on the floor, or hooked onto your body. Knowing how to handle this bundle of electronic wizardry takes a little practice.

Ask if you can practice with the mic before the instruments start playing. That way, you can hear the difference between too close and too far. Consider the following list of microphones and how you’re going to work with the particular type you’ll be using:

  • Body mic: You may have seen body microphones on TV: A microphone cord goes through your clothing, and you wear a small box under your clothes or on your belt. If you don’t get a chance to use one before the show, just visualize the sensation of having the box attached to you so that you aren’t shocked to feel something hanging on your back.

  • Floor level: If the microphones are on the floor, the audience is going to hear the sound of you walking across the stage. You want to practice walking in your performance shoes to know how much noise you make as you enter the stage.

    You may be tempted to tighten your legs or toes so you don’t make so much sound. Instead, try walking without pushing down into the floor; connect with the floor but don’t push your feet into the floor. This allows you to walk with ease and without too much noise.

  • Hand-held: If you’re using a hand-held mic, hold it far enough away from your mouth that you don’t touch it with your lips, but close enough that the sound of your voice reaches the microphone. Consider these rules for mic use:

    • Don’t blow into the mic or tap on it to determine whether it’s on. Instead, speak into it. Blowing into the mic or tapping on it may damage the internal parts.

    • Place your hand on the mic but away from the head. Performers like to cup the mic. Placing your hand around the head of the mic totally changes the way your voice is amplified.

      Note the sound of your voice in the mic when you put your hand on the head and cover part of the head, and then compare the sound when you don’t. You can talk to the sound engineer about the differences in the sound and what you need for your performance.

      You may have to explain that you want to cup the mic and that you need help to get the sound amplified to the audience.

  • Stationary: If your mic is on a stand, you can move around to adjust the sound. Check out the stand before the concert. The height of most microphone stands is adjustable. Look at the middle of the stand, and you’ll probably see a ring that you can twist to adjust the height.

    If you have to turn on the microphone, practice walking to the stand and finding the button so that you feel confident you can turn it on with your hands shaking. It’s okay if your hands shake. You just have to know that it’s going to happen and adjust your movements to feel confident.