The men’s publication Sharp Magazine interviewed Spencer to get the skinny on how to up your karaoke game. Below is Part II of the Q&A that the article We Asked a Vocal Coach to How to Suck Less at Karaoke by Grady Mitchell is based on. (You can find Part I of the Q&A here.):
Grady Mitchell: I’m stepping up to the mic. How should I project my voice to get the most power and fill the room?
Spencer Welch: First, the microphone is your friend. Let it do the work. Eat it like an ice cream cone. You should have the top rounded portion pointed straight into your mouth about one or two inches away.
Then sing like you speak, but like you speak in the boardroom when the boss decided to show for the meeting, and he’s slouched at the far end of the table. Full-voiced speaking, no shouting. That will just trash your throat.
What about physically: is there a specific way I should stand? A particular posture I should hold?
Mom knew what she was talking about: “Stand up tall!” Keep your chest comfortably high, shoulders back and down, and head balanced over your spine. In singing circles, we call this the “noble posture” because you look positively royal and commanding. This also frees up your breathing to be natural and supportive to your vocal needs.
But don’t take the posture thing too far and end up in a full military stance…you still need to stay loose for your dance breakdown!
We’re mid-performance. My voice is breaking, I’m flat/sharp. Everything is falling apart! How do I salvage this performance?
Two things: simplify your approach and focus on your audience. Sometimes we’re just doing too much: fancier riffs, higher pitches, louder notes. None of those are bad in and of themselves, but remember: Perform only what you’ve mastered. Don’t experiment on your audience.
So when the house of cards starts toppling over, simplify, simplify, simplify. Discard the frilly stuff and get back to the soul of the song. What makes your song great? Focus on that.
Secondly, stop listening to yourself and criticizing every little thing coming out of your mouth. This just creates a negative feedback loop where you hear a bad note, chastise yourself for said bad note, question the meaning of life and your place as a singer in it, sing another bad note as a result. Rinse and repeat.
To break the vicious cycle, focus on your audience. Why are they are listening to you?
Contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t there to stroke your ego. People want to enjoy themselves and have a carefree night. If they connect with you during your song, that’s just gravy. But if you start mugging all kinds of anguished faces because of the flubs you’re making, that’s stressful for your audience.
Instead, project confidence and have fun with the song. Draw the audience into enjoying the moment with you.
Do you ever notice it’s not always the best singer that gets the biggest applause? It’s the guy who performs the bejesus out of the song. If you look like you’re having fun, that gives the audience permission to stop worrying about you and to have fun along with you.
The performance went off perfectly. How do I accept the heaps of praise and audience adoration in a gracious, humble way?
The only way possible: accept prepayments for your impending album release.
A simple “thank you, glad you enjoyed it” goes a long way. Don’t feign humility by belittling your performance: “Oh no, I really sucked.” Unless you really did.
Oh, and practice that artsy, inscrutable signature. Follow the tips here, and you might find yourself signing napkins, shirts, elbows. That’s Rock God 101.