Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Keep the Critic out of the Vocal Booth!

When you are in the vocal booth in the process of recording, there is a part of you that you must keep out: Your inner critique.

This is the part of you that says things like:
  • I'm flat on that note... no, I'm sharp...
  • I'm not feeling it right now
  • I got this track in the wrong key
  • I can't hit that (high) (low) (long) (soft) note coming up
  • I should know better than to think I could do this
  • I am not getting this fast enough
  • I suck
  • They (the people in the control room) think I suck

Now, I ask you: What part of any of those questions has to do with delivering a message? We can take a lesson from children and puppies who are much better at being present in the moment when they have something they want to "say".

The vocal booth has room for two people: the singer and the one (usually not physically present) being sung to. The time to critique is before you get into the booth (do pre-production to make sure it's a song or story you believe you can authentically deliver, and that the key is right) and after you leave the booth (while you're listening to playback with your vocal producer).

Singing, like writing, is a creative process. It's a simple mindset where you focus on telling the story with confidence and freedom. If you try to analyze, edit and critique your effort while you are in the middle of it, you will cripple your ability. Think of a child coloring a picture while a parent tells them what they are doing wrong and how doing something different could make it better. The kid's gonna throw some crayons before long and give up. Let the child color; discuss coloring techniques later.

Don't sabotage yourself. It happens all the time. Instead... choose to totally commit to your vocal performance. Talk to your imaginary friend- to whom the song should be directed. This person is rarely anyone in the control room. When you go into the vocal booth to perform, bring your inner creative child with you and leave your inner critic to cool it's heels till playback! You'll be so much better, I promise.

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2 Comments :

  • At May 28, 2009 at 1:49 AM , Blogger Gordy Thomas said...

    I'm really enjoying this read of your blog!

    I never understood or tried to deal with my tendency to critique myself in the midst of a performance until Genevieve Anderson pointed the problem out to me.

    She said, "Frankly, I'm already hard enough on you. Don't try and do my job for me!"

    Instead, she had a great way of letting me go until I'd used up all my leash...THEN she would pull me back, reorient me and let me go again.

    It could be SO painstaking at times, but SO worthwhile come performance time.

    For just before it was time to go on stage she would come to me and say, "You're off the leash now. I'll be here in the wings. Now show me what you've learned about yourself."

    As I've had the opportunity to produce a few vocal sessions for newcomers to studio recording, it's very easy to see when they've brought the bogeyman into the booth with them.

    Helping them get beyond that is one of the most satisfying things I get the chance to do in production.

    Everything else is the engineer...;^)

     
  • At May 28, 2009 at 6:32 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    haha... yes, I try to blame the engineer whenever possible!

     

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