By Jeannie DevaIf you do all your vocal practicing in the same room, you may be setting yourself up for a difficulty you’d never suspect. Read my story and you’ll see what I mean.
Years ago I was preparing for a two hour concert so I started my preparation a few months earlier. To fully develop my song interpretation, melodic improvisation and intonation, I worked on the songs a cappella (without accompaniment) for many weeks prior to starting band rehearsals. I practiced every day in my rehearsal room at home.
To blend my voice with the music, fine tune my mic technique for each song and get comfortable hearing my voice amplified through speakers, I practiced with a PA and instrumental tracks. I also did this in my rehearsal room at home.
Since my rehearsal room was large and equipped with a PA, we rehearsed with the full band in the same room. At a later rehearsal we brought in my backup singers – again in the same room.
Finally on the day of the concert, during our sound check at the large venue I was surprised and shocked when we began the first song. My voice felt totally different – almost foreign in sensation and I was totally thrown off. I struggled to achieve notes that just the day before had been so easy.
What was throwing me off?
After eliminating various possibilities such as monitor mix or EQ with the sound engineer, I discovered the obstacle I had run into: I had become so accustomed to the acoustics of singing in the same practice room that when I changed to this larger venue, the FEEL of singing changed. As a result of changed room acoustics, my physical approach to singing each song now had to be very different.
How we singers physically work with our voice has a lot to do with how we hear ourselves. When the sound we hear back is an alteration of the sound we’re intending and in fact are creating, we tend to unwittingly manipulate our vocal muscles in an attempt to create the sound we expect to hear.
As my concert experience dramatically pointed out, room acoustics can influence how you sing. If you have ever sung in the bathroom as many shower singers have enjoyed doing, you know what a nice difference favorable room acoustics can make. So from room to room your voice will interact with the acoustic environment differently. That can mean that the WAY you sing can change or at least the way your voice FEELS when you sing will be different.
Once I figured this out and from that point on, I began to practice my repertoire in at least 3 different rooms: in my home music room (an acoustically live environment), my family room (wall-to-wall rug and lots of furniture = an acoustically dead environment) and in several rehearsal studios – each a totally different acoustic environment.
Changing room acoustics are a main factor in throwing off your singing, but there are other issues which will be covered in Part 2 of this article.