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Performing for the microphone (Page 2 of 2)
(c) 2002 Myles Wakeham

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Here's a couple of tips that might help.

If you are the singer, when you enter the booth and the tape starts to roll, shut your eyes. If you are singing a song that you wrote, remember what brought about this song. Think of the person or issue that its about. Find deep inside the song what drove you to write it and feel it again. Pace yourself and try not to overdo the performance, but make it honest. If the song is a love song, feel in your heart what the song means to you and let that come through in your voice. Shiver with the emotion of its lyric and draw it out of you. Forget being accurate. You can always punch in the vocal sections that will fix those problems. So don't worry about them. But worry about the humanity, emotion and performance.

If the song is an angst ridden rock number, then screw up your face and imagine you are on stage in front of hundreds of people, eagerly awaiting to rock with you. Let loose. Don't hold back. If it means moving around the studio booth, then do that. If it means dancing to the rhythms of the song, then do that. If it means waving your arms around in the air, then do that. Do what comes natural. But do something. Make it happen. Make the song come alive.

One other general tip that I find useful is to have singers shift one of the headphone sides off one ear so that they can hear not only the background tracks, but also themselves in the room that they are in. This is sort of a "back to reality" thing that I use to assist singers with realizing that they are not just in headphones but a real person, singing.

Drummers, you have to remember that you control feeling. This means that you have to be appropriate to the song, but you have to kick it too. It means making that snare bite. It means crashing the cymbals. It means making tom rolls stand out. Make sure you are hearing as much of the other instruments in your headphones as you need. Make sure that you are feeling the music. If it means sitting down with the rest of the band beforehand and reminding each other of why the song was written and the feel that should be there, do it. And if the engineer tells you that you aren't giving it all you have, then give it more. Sweat. Make it happen.

I call on all engineers out there to be aware of their role in this problem and to help discipline their artists to remember who they are singing to. Its easy to forget in a clinical environment such as a recording studio, and certainly if its hard out there to get gigs and so you are spending more time recording than playing live, its a natural occurrence.

But its up to all of us to change this. Let's remember this is the ENTERTAINMENT industry. We have to produce recordings that entertain. Make it happen and you'll sell records.


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