Tips for Microphones, Part 4

Dealing with Hand-held Mics

  • Mic stands are your friend. Some folks immediately walk out and grab the mic and take it off the stand. Why? If it’s set up correctly, it provides a good stable platform which allows you freedom to use your hands and be expressive. There’s also less chance of you dropping the mic. And there’s no need to hold the stand. You just create vibration and noise when you do.
  • Learn how to work with a mic stand. There are different models (boom, standard, and flexible). Visit a pro music store, and gain experience with each of them.
  • Get a mic stand and practice performing with it in front of you, and have someone video record it. Preferably from typical angles. (Like on a stage, level, etc.) See how you look when you do. Try to avoid looking like a T-Rex dinosaur (waving your arms with your elbows pinched at your sides), or looking like your hands are the fig-leaf to your costuming. Also avoid working so closely to the mic that you appear to swallow the equipment. Practice looking relaxed and keeping the mic as a focal point for your performance.
  • If the mike is not at the right height, take a moment and adjust it. A one-minute delay is nothing compared to a performer looking awkward while stooping or stretching for 10 minutes.
  • Find out if you will need to turn a mic on or off during your set. If there are other performers, have everyone aware of whether the mic should be turned on or off between performers. If you are leaving the stage empty for any long length of time, it’s best to turn it off. Also, it is polite and classy to adjust the mike stand for the next performer, as needed.
  • Mic clips and clamps manufacturers and microphone makers seem to delight in not making matches. Sometimes there is a mismatch. Practice removing a mic from the stand and replacing it again, especially with gloves on. Looking smooth is cool.
  • Never drop a mic like a rapper (just for fun) unless you want the sound man to meet you in the parking lot. If that is part of your schtick, bring one or ask for a stunt mike, and talk the audio person. [Mics are expensive and fragile.]
  • Never wave a mic around to make a point conversationally. The goal is to make your mic use seem invisible and natural.

Final Advice

Some gigs lack professional audio people and may have helpers who don’t know what they are doing. Knowing how to do the basics can help you out. If you know how to turn mics on and off, re-connect cables, and what your level settings should look like on a mixing board, you can really help keep the event running smoothly. If you know a competent audio person, contact them about how you can spend an afternoon learning the gear. You will be glad you did.

The biggest mistake you can make on a mic is going over time. Always leave them wanting more.

I teach a full workshop on performing with and using different microphones and sound gear. But you can also get this information at many audio/instrument shops and online.
Looking smooth and sounding great is part of being an A-List Christmas Entertainer!


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