Thursday, July 27, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #25: Playing with Microphone

With the INAFA convention coming next week, there will be several opportunities to play in front of a microphone. The NCFC will have a sound system setup for "open mic" sessions at various times throughout the event.
With that in mind, I wanted to dedicated this week's playing to some guidelines for playing in front of a microphones.

Open Mic Sessions

A great place to gain confidence and experience playing for others is at the open-mic sessions either at a flute circle or at the local coffee shop. This is your chance to attempt to perform a new song that you have been practicing, to play a new flute, to try a new scale for improvisation.

Some tips on playing at an open mic session:

  • Introduce yourself, this is your chance to let people know who you are and to help reduce your nerves a bit before you start playing. Connect with your audience and they'll be more attentive to your performance.
  • Tell a story as an intro to the song you are about to play. How did the song come to you? Is it an intrepretation of a known melody? Describe the flute that you are about to play
  • Take the time to adjust the microphone – THIS IS CRITICAL. Don’t think that you are wasting time, as nothing is more annoying for a listener than not being able to hear the performer. Listeners also hate to see the performer playing at an ackward angle, just to get sound from the microphone.
  • Make any adjustments to sound level or echo/reverb before you play or give the sound person a quick sound check (a few notes) to test the mic placement, etc. Announce to the audience that you want to quickly test the sound level before you start. You might ask “Can you hear me now?”

Mike’s Simple Microphone Rules

Here are some tips for using a stage microphone with a Native American Flute.

  • Most stage microphones only pick up sound within about 6”-12” from the end of the microphone (this may be different in the studio where the mic used can pick up everything). So make sure that you stay within this 6"-12" range.
  • The strongest sound comes from the sound hole in front of the block/fetish on your flute, thus the sound hole needs to be in the sound field of the microphone. Adjust the mic up or down to put this part of the flute in front of the mic.
  • Remain stationary during the song if you are using a stationary mic (don’t turn your head, or sway). Note: you can use this idea to actually "fade" the sound by moving away or to the side of the mic.
  • NEVER, EVER cover the mic with your hand (this will cause the speakers to squeal or feedback). If it starts to feedback, stop playing for a moment. If you have a sound person, they will lower the sound volume. If there is no sound person, you'll need to jump to the volume control of the amplifier (a good reason to find this knob for the channel you are using, before getting on stage...)
  • Did I mention: DON’T EVER cover the mic with your hand!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good tips, Mike. I have a Pick Up the World mic and I don't much like the velcro attachment technique they use. Are you aware of some clips or clamps that can be used with that mic and the NAF?