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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How to Practice Your Voice Without Irritating the Neighbors

I received a very practical question in my email this week... Julia in Albuquerque asks,
I live in an apartment complex and like to practice at night. What should I do about the noise? 
Singers sometimes need to do vocal warmups and practice songs in hotel rooms, houses shared by others or on postage stamp lots, artist dressing rooms, public bathrooms, between-set-alleys, band buses, a back corner of the venue itself. How can you do this without annoying neighbors or giving away the sound of your not-yet-warmed-up-voice?

Here are some suggestions:

Cheapest solution: so you don't have to amplify your sound, consider HearFones. These gadgets are like having a PA system that requires no electricity or batteries. Wearing them will also have the added benefit of keeping you from using too much air pressure. You won't like yelling at yourself:) 

Try garnering a little good will by contacting and alerting neighbors about when you intend to practice, being willing to work around times they especially need quiet (working night shift and need to sleep, baby's napping, etc). Your neighbors could become supportive friend-fans!

For an apartment, hotel room or space you don't own, you can try warming up and singing in the shower! You can also try vocalizing into a pillow or window curtains.  However, don't practice in 'guarded stance'. A hunched over, careful posture and numb delivery could lead you into bad vocal technique, causing you to tighten up instead of loosen up!

You can always practice in your car... but if you practice correctly you must be mindful of how you are singing. SO.... don't tailgate, stay away from other cars, or better yet... park and sing!

For your home, you might consider dedicating a space for playing/listening to/practicing music. In my home, my music room is located over my garage, and there is carpet on the floor. It really is a great situation for me and my clients. 

If you want to go a little (or a lot) farther with it, 
OK anybody else got suggestions? What has worked for you?

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  • At April 28, 2014 at 8:36 AM , Anonymous Julia Bowen said...

    Thank you, Judy!!! As always, great suggestions!! You have made such a difference in my vocal career : )

  • At April 29, 2014 at 10:44 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    You are most welcome, Julia... thx for the great question!

  • At July 17, 2015 at 1:08 PM , Anonymous Kath Morgan said...

    Shower is the best place to practice my voice! My voice always sounds good whenever I'm inside. lol Thanks for some other suggestions, still!

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  • At December 5, 2015 at 10:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm going to suggest getting a dynamic mic with a good amp for the beginner. You won't get the world's most amazing tone and quality but I'd also say the odds are that when you're starting out, you won't need it. I kept getting condenser mics because people swore by them and I was never able to get enough recorded to justify a booth, which on my income would have to go on a credit card. If you're really bootstrapping it, get an SM58 with an XLR-USB amp for around $200. There are cheaper options but that's the quality to price breakpoint. Lower quality probably isn't good enough.

    You'll be able to use the SM58 at live gigs later but, starting out, it will get you a presence on Youtube or for simple projects. Right now, my neighbors' TV is blaring, their dogs are barking, and the mic doesn't pick it up. It doesn't pick up anything noticable past around 6-12 inches -- loud noises at 24 inches -- and the very small amount of noise it does pick up is removed without severely damaging the sound quality.

    Now, is that a proper studio setup? No. But I'll use the mic when I get one. SM58s can be dropped from buildings and still work and pros continue to use them at live appearances. (You'll also want an SM57 for instruments.) Some pros use them in studios.

    But the expenses of a quality booth become an excuse not to make stuff, whether it's speeches, music, or voiceover. And if you aren't producing anything, you won't be able to justify the bigger expenses later. That is what leads people to wake up one day at 30, 35, or 40 and give up. The people who advise you to go in big initially had the money to do it and are part of a select group that made it.

    Think about it: you only ask the successful people for advice. I would imagine that the majority of people who bought a WhisperRoom blew the money or eventually spent enough on upgrades to be run a negative. But you only hear from the successful people because that's who people seek advice from.

    I'd say get a solid dynamic mic like the SM58 and start making stuff now. Rent a booth for an album or run a Kickstarter that folds the booth into your budget. It's easier to get other people to help diffray the risk of a large purchase if you have functional samples.

  • At December 6, 2015 at 1:50 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Whoever you are, Anonymous, bless you for your contribution here. Great advice, and you're right, even on the cheapest budget, where there's a will, there's a way! I, myself practice and teach singers mic technique on SM58 and Sennheiser 835s in my music room These economical mics are not just for beginners. Thanks again and please keep in touch!

  • At March 5, 2016 at 6:58 AM , Anonymous India barnes said...

    would vocalising in a pillow help me? I have a lot of people in my house with no shed or garage for privacy.

  • At March 5, 2016 at 2:43 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    India... wow that's a novel solution! You could actually try that, but do hold the pillow a few inches away from your face! You could also try going into a closet or bathroom to practice.


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