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Help, singing in noisy environments

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GUEST,Female singer with a quiet voice 01 Apr 02 - 06:17 PM
53 01 Apr 02 - 06:28 PM
Jeri 01 Apr 02 - 06:32 PM
Ebbie 01 Apr 02 - 06:40 PM
InOBU 01 Apr 02 - 07:06 PM
Phil Cooper 01 Apr 02 - 07:16 PM
Alice 01 Apr 02 - 08:25 PM
Bat Goddess 01 Apr 02 - 08:31 PM
Alice 01 Apr 02 - 08:45 PM
Shantymanuk 01 Apr 02 - 09:46 PM
Coyote Breath 01 Apr 02 - 10:14 PM
Celtic Soul 01 Apr 02 - 10:57 PM
53 01 Apr 02 - 11:11 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM
Bert 02 Apr 02 - 01:58 AM
KingBrilliant 02 Apr 02 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Keith A at work 02 Apr 02 - 05:45 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 05:55 AM
Jon Freeman 02 Apr 02 - 06:07 AM
InOBU 02 Apr 02 - 06:26 AM
InOBU 02 Apr 02 - 06:26 AM
InOBU 02 Apr 02 - 06:27 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 06:54 AM
InOBU 02 Apr 02 - 07:07 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Female singer etc 02 Apr 02 - 07:32 AM
Jon Freeman 02 Apr 02 - 07:35 AM
KingBrilliant 02 Apr 02 - 07:40 AM
Jon Freeman 02 Apr 02 - 07:50 AM
Pied Piper 02 Apr 02 - 07:59 AM
KingBrilliant 02 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM
Rick Fielding 02 Apr 02 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,jonesey 02 Apr 02 - 09:47 AM
Alice 02 Apr 02 - 10:08 AM
Peter T. 02 Apr 02 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Les B. 02 Apr 02 - 12:08 PM
Keith A of Hertford 02 Apr 02 - 01:08 PM
Herga Kitty 02 Apr 02 - 01:38 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Apr 02 - 02:54 PM
PoppaGator 14 May 03 - 05:43 PM
Frankham 14 May 03 - 06:29 PM
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Subject: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: GUEST,Female singer with a quiet voice
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 06:17 PM

Hi folks, After a less than wonderful evening - failing to sing half-way decently in an acoustic session in noisy pub - I am thoroughly disheartened.

In a noisy room I just can't get started and 'sing-out' the song - even one which I have successfully sung before in quieter places.

I hope I have a choice :

A Only try singing at the quiet places. Join-in/listen at the noisy ones. This was my first reaction tonight.

B Is it possible to learn how to ?project more ????? I have never had any voice coaching. & I don't know if this is possible.

I'd like to know how those of you with quiet voices have approached the issue or if you have any thoughts on the subject.

Thank you


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: 53
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 06:28 PM

Get a mike and a small PA and then you'll be in business.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 06:32 PM

I lived with a quiet voice for years. I got a little bit of coaching, and no one would call me quiet now.

YES, it's possible to learn to project. The major factor with me was learning to use my breath to add power. It also helps you not to strain your voice, and makes singing a lot more enjoyable and easy.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Ebbie
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 06:40 PM

In my group, there is a man with a lovely voice- but it's overwhelmed by instruments or even most harmonies. So we have learned just to back off when he sings. It's kind of a nice change, for that matter, since he tends to sing mostly old ballads.

The other thing that helps is to be aware of what key or range you can sing powerfully in. My friend has a fairly narrow range- he sings mostly in F- but we have worked at finding songs for him in other keys, and it's working.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: InOBU
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 07:06 PM

DON'T TRY TO SING OVER THE YAHOOS!!!! Get your mates to tell them to give you a moment of silence, if they wont, find another pub for a session. Fact is forcing it over the noise will ruin your voice - unless you go for opera training, and fact is, traditional singers are not opera singers. If they are rude to you, they don't deserve you... Cheers Larry
PS I posted a wee song about this very subject, about my leaving the sessions at Demptsy's called Dempsy's Parting Glass... Cheers again, Larry


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 07:16 PM

I agree with Larry. I'm assuming you were referring to an Irish music session and not an organized song circle? It's been my experience that some sessions do not welcome singers very much. I've seen some singers in Chicago try to start a song and have someone start playing a tune and rolling right over them. I find as a guitarist, that playing backup to the tunes is fun, till I can't hear if I'm in tune anymore. Then it's time to pack it in. I have enjoyed meeting quieter musicians and singers and suggesting playing some things together before the session gets too huge to be fun. Learning to project as Jeri suggested is also a good idea, you don't need to sound operatic. When you jump in with a song, do it with authority. If your efforts aren't appreciated in one session, find another that will appreciate you.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Alice
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 08:25 PM

There is a list of threads on singing technique that I put together.

GETTING VOICE LESSONS WILL NOT TURN YOU INTO AN OPERA SINGER!!!!!! I don't know how many times I have to repeat this, but I'll say it again. Learning how to use your voice by going to a good technical singing teacher will help you not only have better volume, tone, bigger range, and stamina, but it will help you to PRESERVE your voice late into life. It will NOT make you sound like you are singing opera, if what you want to do is traditional folk singing. It WILL help you to avoid stress that causes nodes and other more serious problems of your vocal folds.

Threads on the singing voice
Alice


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 08:31 PM

I sing in a noisy environment -- The Press Room, our favorite pub -- almost all the time. Let it teach you how to project. Learn how to use your voice. If you're doing it right, it won't hurt your voice and it's a useful skill to have. Makes you (and the people trying to LISTEN to you!) appreciate it when you have a quiet environment, a microphone, or a quiet listening audience.

Of course, I also tweak my repertoire to the ambience -- The Press Room gets the rowdier songs with choruses so people will join in.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Alice
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 08:45 PM

Odetta was classically trained, planned a career in oratorio, then discovered folk music. Some people can do fine without instruction, but since you are asking what to do, I would suggest learning techniques for breath support, and reaching for the potential of your voice. Staying in a quiet area would not give you as much joy as learning how to use your voice to your best possible ability. Guest singer, check around your area for a good singing teacher. If you can't find one, you can contact my teacher by email and get some instruction through sending cassette tapes by correspondence. Let me know if you want her email address.

On St. Patrick's Day, our session was moved from its normal lobby location into the smokey bar. The crowd noise was overwhelming, the acoustics dead, but I stood on a chair, and using what I learned from my voice teacher, I was able to project over the noise (and I have a high, light voice) by using the training I've had. By relaxing and floating out a stream of air with the sound carried on that air, I sounded much louder than someone who tried to belt over the noise, and I didn't stress my voice.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Shantymanuk
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 09:46 PM

I have been known in my local area as a loud singer of shanties and chorus songs. Over the last few years, though, I choose quieter and more reflective songs. I have chosen to sing those songs which have a chorus or refrain, although they might not be my first choice of song, they are those that I can still use to good effect by "barking" the first chorus, but I can still do that. I can still take an audience from rowdy to tearful. Just don't ask me how, I don't know how.

I don't quite know what goes on with you, and I won't try to guess.

Singing, for me comes from the heart. However I remain aware of what the particular, rather than the local partisan audience wants. There are times for "The Galway Shawl"; there are times for "Molly Malone". I am sure that sometime there will be a time for me for "Carrickfergus", I hope and believe in that, but it hasn't happened yet, in nearly thirty years.

A quiet voice is not a disadvantage. You probably have a sensitivity for song by virtue of your reticence. I really hope that you have friends about you who will support your singing talent beyond the classic mc statement "quiet for a lady singer".

Please MC if you wish.

Alan.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 10:14 PM

Is the Press Room in Milwaukee? If it is the place I'm thinking of it used to be "Men" only!

Sing in the chest to save your voice. This is especially useful when in a smoke filled room. I avoid that sort of venue when ever possible. Singing from the diaphragm, forcing the air up from the bottom and building the volume helps. As noted, broad range and the right key can help. I have a hard time in church. The organist plays in E and I can barely sing in that key. If I sing the octave up I squeak and if I sing the octave down I gargle. I can't read music so I can't read the harmony. I use intuition, mostly.

I have asked that people quiet down on occasion but one really has to have a great deal of confidence in one's abilities to do that...

CB


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 10:57 PM

While getting voice lessons will not make everyone an opera singer, what it *will* do is teach you better support and control. This *will* help you to keep from screwing up your voice, or "over-singing" your abilities, and will allow you to support your voice to *it's* fullest.

With that said...

If you can amplify yourself in some way shape or form, do it. If you can, try leaving the stage and singing directly to a few people at a time. If neither of these is an option, try speaking to the audience ahead of time...tell them you have a quiet voice, but that you'll do your best to make it worth their while if they'll keep it down so they can hear.

Whatever you do, just don't push too hard. You'll wind up doing damage and sounding shreiky, shrill, or harsh.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: 53
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 11:11 PM

What about a sound system?


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM

53, it sounds like Female Singer is talking about participating with a solo song at a jam session in an otherwise noisy place, like a pub. She said it's "acoustic," so I assume it's people who are playing informally, even though it's a public place, and not amplified for performance. If it's anything like the sessions I've been to, it's mostly tunes from instrumentalists, with the occasional solo or group song. The other non-participating folks in the bar mostly carry on their normal conversation during the tunes, may or may not stop to applaud something they appreciate, and may or may not tone it down for a solo singer. There's no M.C. at hand, and sound equipment would turn it into a more formal performance than people are trying to achieve in that kind of setting.

I'm a female singer with a quiet voice too, and I have to say that I sigh with envy at the stories of the old English pubs that regularly had singing and had a publican or other person who would call for order for a solo song...

Learning to singer louder properly is key, and/or finding someone who'll help out by shushing folks a bit is useful. Once a good song is started, it seems most people will stop and give it a listen -- I think that nowadays (at least where I live!) it's such a rare thing to hear someone sing unaccompanied and unamplified that people are somewhat awed or astounded to see it. It does vary with the crowd, though.

My personal problem is finding the right spot in the flow of the evening and screwing up the courage to start the song at all. The other thing I sigh about in stories of the old days is having someone who'd M.C. things...

'Course, in the old days, there weren't many women singing in those pubs, they were home cooking supper...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Bert
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 01:58 AM

Another trick that, surprisingly, often works is to sing just a little quieter. You'll get a few people nearby stop talking and start listening then others will gradually follow suit. As well, of course, your song has to have a message that the audience wants to hear.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 05:37 AM

I agree with Bert, and it really does work. I used always to sing loudly (I am a noisy female with a very powerful chest voice), but was amazed when someone told me you don't have to be loud all the time - and he proceeded to sing a song fairly quietly. When he sang quietly the general noise level went right down. When I sang loudly the general noise level went up. Its logical really - if there's loud music on you have to talk louder to be heard.
As Alice says, training doesn't make you into an opera-style singer. Training does teach you to make best use of your voice without damaging it. I'm having to unlearn the blasting-out-loud stuff and learn to use more control at a lower volume - so its not just quiet singers that are helped by going to a teacher!
Its definitely worth going to a teacher at least for an assessment, and if you find a good teacher then keep going! If the pub just won't quieten down (and some won't) then just accept that its not worth trying to sing there, and find a quieter session to sing at. There's no shame in deciding its not worthwhile. Quiet a lot of our best local singers simply will not sing in a noisy environment.
Is there any mileage in doubling up with someone else for a song or two - does two quiets equal one loud?
Keep singing anway, even if not at that venue.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: GUEST,Keith A at work
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 05:45 AM

I sometimes glare pointedly at the loud mouths.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 05:55 AM

...and then what do the "loud mouths" do, Keith?
Sometimes, if you're singing in a session in a pub, there are other customers there who have no interest in the music. If they feel like making a noise, then you just have to put up with it. They have just as much right to be there as you do.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:07 AM

b) Yes it is possible and there are some here with good advice...

a) How noisey is noisey? Pub situations can be difficult. I think one can reasonably expect those participating in the session to keep quiet while you sing but there will always be other people in the pub not even there for the music so you will rarely be able to expect absolute silence from everyone unless you are in a separate room set aside for the music... Have you talked to other members of the session and found out how they cope with the noise levels?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: InOBU
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:26 AM

Watson, old bean! As far as right to be where, there are music pubs and there are sports pubs and there are drink till you drop dead pubs, and the problem is a pub that does not know which one it is. Most places, other than Saudi Arabia, have lots and lots of pubs. Trouble with Demptsys, in New York, is that it didn't decide what it was, and had the session right up against the pool table. At last they put the session in a separate room, but the eejits still leave TVs playing baseball on in the same room as the session.
BECKY! In what old days were women not singing!? Now, there was, at one time segrigation in most Irish pubs, but, women were not at home making supper! They were in the picking fields with the men, singing and passing on our music! That goes back for ever, then came the 60's when the likes of Anne Briggs, was singing in pubs, which by the 70s were filled with women singing!
As to those who say sing louder, depends on the tradition. I say, don't change your traditions to suit a pub, change pubs.
Cheers, Larry


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: InOBU
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:26 AM

Watson, old bean! As far as right to be where, there are music pubs and there are sports pubs and there are drink till you drop dead pubs, and the problem is a pub that does not know which one it is. Most places, other than Saudi Arabia, have lots and lots of pubs. Trouble with Demptsys, in New York, is that it didn't decide what it was, and had the session right up against the pool table. At last they put the session in a separate room, but the eejits still leave TVs playing baseball on in the same room as the session.
BECKY! In what old days were women not singing!? Now, there was, at one time segrigation in most Irish pubs, but, women were not at home making supper! They were in the picking fields with the men, singing and passing on our music! That goes back for ever, then came the 60's when the likes of Anne Briggs, was singing in pubs, which by the 70s were filled with women singing!
As to those who say sing louder, depends on the tradition. I say, don't change your traditions to suit a pub, change pubs.
Cheers, Larry


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: InOBU
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:27 AM

Whoops... Larry


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:54 AM

Larry,
Most of the pubs I go to know exactly what they are - all things to all people!
A small village pub may welcome musicians with open arms, but you would find local people chatting away merrily in the same room - possibly the only room - complete with pool table and probably a dart board too.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: InOBU
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:07 AM

My dear fellow, Frankly, I have seldom found a village without a number of pubs, now back in Dingle, there were music pubs, teen pool playing pubs, old fisherman pubs, here in New York, there are singing session pubs, Ceili tune sessions pubs, and generaly that works fairly well. Chating away merrily is great ... fine, but loud yelling over singers, well, I frankly remember a time in England when loud political dissucussions would get one tossed out of many pubs, it is all a matter of being polite!
Cheers, Larry (tossed out of a number of pubs!)


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:13 AM

We have some very small villages!


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: GUEST,Female singer etc
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:32 AM

Hi folks, excellent advice here as always.

We're lucky in this part of the UK to have plenty of venues to choose from, so I'll definitely be carrying on singing at the song circles, most of which could be categorised as noisy or quiet. The atmosphere at the sessions held in the corner of a pub is far too good miss out on to stay away competely (especially when it's a friend running the session) - and the feedback from 'ordinary' customers who hadn't expected to hear live music that is amazing. Generally I would say other musicians are great at pitching the volume to not drown out the quiet'uns, & I don't feel comfortable with asking customers in their local to stop their conversations. (if it's a dedicated room I'll glare/nudge/shhh people to give all the performers the space.)

Actually I know quite a few male singers who won't go to the noisy venues (or stick to playing along), but I'm a stubborn cuss & don't give in without a fight. Ebbie,hi. Since Ive started playing the guitar along with some songs -I'm a lot more confident of finding the key I had intended. A while ago I was advised to move the pitch up a bit in a pub to 'cut through' better (thank heavens for capos). Do you all agree with that ? Hi Becky, I agree it very stressful waiting to maybe jump in, I'm much more comfortable if I'm asked/cued.

Hi 53, I've very rarely used PA's, I haven't a clue if I used them ok - concentrating on the song , must get some feedback (so to speak) next time.

Hi Alice/King Brilliant, excellent reasons for getting some training ! I will see who I can find , & thanks for the links.

Isn't it GREAT when it works though, people joining in or listening quietly to the song - or simply getting completely lost in the song.

Thanks everyone


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:35 AM

Larry, sounds like you know different villages to me... I know villages with no pubs, many with one pub, some with 2 pubs but few with more than that...

Most pubs I know are mixed - even the pub I will be going to for a session tonight which is in the CITY of Norwich and has Irish landlords is likely to be showing a European league football (soccer) match on TV when I get there as well as pool and other games being played. The session will wait (im)patiently for the match to end before starting... Tends to be an excellent session too...

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:40 AM

Its not just village pubs that have to be all things to everyone. I live in a big town & our local pubs can't afford to be dedicated to music playing because they have to compete for the custom of as many people as they can - and because they tend to be brewery-owned & the managers have to do what the bosses tell them.
Hence, in all our local pubs I would expect to find people enjoying themselves and chatting & totally ignoring the music. Its usually a compromise. I actually prefer the music to be background to the normal pub business of drinking & having a good time. I believe that's how the tradition of playing in pubs will survive - as an accepted part of the pub in general rather than a performance-based specialist night.
I also think its very tiring to actually listen to a succession of songs and tunes that can often be quite similar and are of varied quality. A pub is not a concert, and I don't think we should expect the same level of attention. Live and let live, I reckon.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:50 AM

Kris, when it comes to preferences for sessions, my own is for the separate room (open to all) although such venues become harder and harder to find. My own preference is also for a mostly instrumental session but with the occasional song thrown in the mix. In that sort environment, I think it is good for the musicians to be in a room where they have some degree of control over noise levels (I mean if people really want to yell, the other bar can always be suggested) but I think the atmosphere would become horribly sterile or perhaps stiff and formal if there wasn't some gentle conversation going on... Hope that makes sense.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Pied Piper
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 07:59 AM

The comments above about singing quietly to get people's atention fits with my experiance.I don't sing (well not very offtern)but I once sore a friend of mine silence an intire pub (session and punters) singing very quietly while playing the celtic harp, as others have said the silence expanded over 20 seconds or so to fill the hole space.The trick(if thats the right word) is to mean what you sing and give it 110 % commitment, people know magic when they hear it and usually shut up. All the best PP


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM

Perfect sense Jon. Though I'm not sure if my post makes any sense - I've got post-festival fazed feeling at the moment, and I see the world as through a glass fuzzily.
The control thing is key really. If you want control of the environment then you need to be in a controllable environment (eg dedicated room). Its horses for courses, and the conflict comes when what you're looking for isn't achievable in the environment you're in - in which case the cure is to find the right environment, or stay and compromise. Whatever. As long as everyone is happy.
Luckily there seem to be plenty of sessions about of all different types, so we should all be able to find something to suit.
Finally - quiet female - don't let stubbornness tempt you into damaging your voice. Shifting up a bit sounds like a good idea as the higher notes carry better and need less force. Do you get any feedback as to whether you can be heard? You don't hear yourself the same way as others do, and your voice might be carrying further than you think.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 08:47 AM

Hi, Quiet voiced singer. There are obviously many answers and numerous suggestions appropriate to your dillema. Lotsa good advice here, but I'll throw one more thought into the mix.

Do you have a church in your area? Ask the head honcho (sorry, my agnosticism showing through) if you can come in once a week when it's empty, go to the front, and sing your head off for 15 minutes. The resonance will not only be fun (and make you feel powerful!) but you'll learn to control your voice at higher volume. I've done this (did it again last year at the Washington Getaway) and it works.

By the way, I totally agree with Alice...Some vocal instruction can really help...and will NOT turn you into an opera singer (unless you're aiming that way in the first place).....better breathing gives you more volume.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: GUEST,jonesey
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 09:47 AM

Hi Quiet singer UK...Having sung professionally in a variety of circumstances for a number of years maybe I can add to what's already been suggested. Street singing was causing me to lose my voice and I was fortunate enough to find a 'classically trained' contralto. 3 lessons and the exercises she showed me I still use today, more than 20 years later. Picked up 2 books on yoga...'The Complete Book of Yoga' by Swami Vishnudevananda and 'Light on Yoga' by B.K.S. Iyengar. They're both available in paperback, I believe. The vocal intructor showed me two to use my 'throat' properly as it relates to singing and the yoga books showed me how to 'breathe' as it relates to life. Within 6 months I was holding notes out for 45 seconds and projecting like an opera singer. Yogic breathing will allow you to project your lower register as easily as you project your upper notes. It takes time and concentration to develope the techniques, but well worth the effort. After a time you wont be able to sing improperly! lol You may want to find a yoga instructor to help you with learning the breathing techniques as I was stubborn and passed out once! Anyway, I hope this reply is helpful and good luck!


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Alice
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 10:08 AM

Guest singer, just another note. Our regular session takes breaks for songs now and then, and often I am one that is turned to for a song. I always sing unaccompanied, and when I start, the room drops to dead silence except for my voice. I don't sound like someone blasting or belting (here is a sound sample

Click Here.

The St. Patrick's day mob in the bar that I described above was not our usual situation, and I sang out of frustration with it all - and did get at least half the room, the ones who could see me, to quiet down. Normally I wouldn't even try to sing in that kind of a crowd. (I have watched singers who belt out every time, and as mentioned above, the crowd sometimes just gets louder over top of them.) The new lease owners were trying to move us out of our spacious acoustic smoke-free lobby and into the corner of the little bar where you couldn't hear the other musician 5 feet away from you. So, it was a downer night, especially since three of the session musicians, including my son, are high school students who are underage to be in the bar. Luckily, the next week was the Oscars, a big tv was on in the bar, and they let us go back into the lobby - to stay.

You do have to pick your locations and the timing of when to sing, as you probably know, sometimes the tunes dominate, sometimes people are wanting more songs. Over the years, it seems we have less singing at the session, so I finally just started a song circle myself, to give the singers more opportunities than what we had at the weekly session. I found a tea & pastry shop, Wellington's, and a nice lady who was happy to be hostess once a month for a Saturday afternoon song circle in the corner of her shop. Whether you have to invite people to your home or find a public location, you can start your own song circle as one solution.

Have fun singing,

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:01 AM

Theatre actors have one important additional trick for any venue, which is to enunciate your consonants clearly and crisply. Even someone with a very soft voice can be heard long distances and over noise because the human mind makes sense of words through the consonants, not the vowels or the underlying tone. The consonants, being mostly percussive, also cut through noise. In crowd scenes where specific conversations have to be heard, that is standard direction. Probably will help a little in pubs too.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 12:08 PM

One small trick you can sometimes use is to find the right "spot" in a noisy situation. This weekend I played/sang with a group of friends in a bar we used to play regularly, but had not visited for some time.

When we took up our positions in the accustomed place, at one end of the room, everyone mentioned they couldn't hear themselves like they used to. Something had changed -- a piece of furinture moved, a new ventilation system, or something. I found that by moving to the other end of the group, a distance of about seven feet, and getting the surface of a bare wall behind me, my singing volume seemed to increase significantly.

Of course you don't always have the luxury to experiment, but it's worth looking for the "sweet spot" whenever possible.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 01:08 PM

Watson, I would not have suggested it if it did not mostly work. Most people do not want to be seen as party poopers. It is usually thoughtlesness rather than bloody mindedness that causes the problem.


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 01:38 PM

Hmmm, some interesting overlap here with the discussion on the hijacking of the Sidmouth Festival Theatre Bar singarounds - like, if you've got a non-pub venue where people shut up and listen sympathetically to the singers, including the quiet ones, but you're trying to relocate a pub session because the pub may be closed, you should try to locate the pub session to another pub, and save the non-pub singaround venue for the people who aren't confident enough to sing in a pub session.

Sidmouth also usually has workshops to help people develop their voices, and has in particular had Julie McNamara and Chris Coe running singing workshops for women singers or would-be singers who want to build up their confidence.

This isn't meant to be a plug for Sidmouth, but maybe more festivals should consider similar workshops - for people who are worried that singing lessons might turn them operatic, voice training in a folk festival environment might be useful.

Anyway, QF, I hope you find somewhere welcoming and comfortable to sing.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 02:54 PM

A choice among pubs in which informal trad/folk music is happening... sigh. Must be nice. (Not just the old days to sigh about...) I am glad to be corrected on the "women home cooking supper" idea, though from the Coppers' stories and others' it does seem that more of the womens' singing was in the home setting than the pub.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 May 03 - 05:43 PM

Like the answer to the question "How do I get to Carnegie Hall," I'd offer the advice to "Practice, Practice, Practice!"

I think it's silly to reject voice training for fear you'd be forced to adopt an operatic style. You can apply the lessons while maintaining your own personal style; what's the worst that could happen? The teacher won't flunk you, he/she wants your fees.

However, I think you can develop the same skills on your own that you'd get from a teacher (especially if you inform your efforts by reading books, these posts, etc.) You *can* develop greater volume without straining your throat by increasing your use of the diaphragm, chest cavity, etc. It's a very gradual process, but you can make progress if you keep at it. I suppose the hard part would be finding opportunities to sing more than one or two songs per evening, and to maximize the number of evenings you can perform.

I spent a couple of years of my misspent youth busking for long hours. I put myself on a strict full-time schedule one summer, performing 40 hours per week out on the street: Thursday evening though Sunday evening, including 13 hours (!) each Saturday, making myself heard above the noise of traffic at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. This forty-hour work week did *not* include after-dark activities in bars or at house parties, nor "practicing" on my days off, Monday thorugh Thursday afternoon. As you might imagine, my voice -- and my fingers -- underwent serious physiological development.

Not for everyone, and certainly not a viable option for a working adult, but I can state with certainty, from experience, that it is possible to develop a *hugely* increased ability to project one's voice simply by repetition, listening to oneself, and constantly making adjustments. Hang in there!


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Subject: RE: Help, singing in noisy environments
From: Frankham
Date: 14 May 03 - 06:29 PM

Hi Guest with Quiet Voice,

My two cents. If you decide to study voice, be cautious. Some well-intended teachers can wreck voices. Best thing, find some singer who you admire and then inquire who they are studying with.

In singing, environment is everything. If you are in a noisy pub, don't waste your time. People who are drinking have poor attention spans.

Don't hurt yourself by trying to outsing the crowd. It makes matters worse. Sol Hurok used to say "If people don't want to come to a show, you can't stop them." Same is true for noisy inattentive places and audiences.

The best way to project is to totally relax and sing naturally with your own vocal instrument. If you try to change and push it with force, it will backfire on you. Work on relaxation, diction, shaping a lyric so that it communicates in the way an actor does. Remember that even though you are singing folk music, you are still a performer. Breath support (diaphragmatic breathing) pitch and diction can be learned from a good vocal teacher.

The worst thing that you can do is to try to be heard when the odds are against it happening. Pubs are not the best places to develop singing. You get the occasional singer who is loud and forceful but singing requires vocal quality, nuance, interpretation, musicality and above all, a sense of well-being and relaxation, or at least an appearance of that. In this, singing is psychological. Being at ease is fundamental.

A sound system can be a trap unless you know how to use it. Mic technique is not learned overnight. Most small systems are tinny, and do not represent your vocal quality well. For this you might need a good mic (a condensor or a very good dynamic). In most places where a sound system is needed, you are at the mercy of a sound person who probably has never heard you before and doesn't know how to make you sound better. The only way out is to haul in your own system, not practical for a singaround or informal gathering.

The most important is to save your voice. This is where vocal training comes in and that's the only real reason to have it. Sometimes you can learn musicianship from a vocal trainer but mostly it's about taking care of the "instrument" and bringing it out.

If you continue singing at various places, do not compromise your voice by yelling, outsinging, or straining. Even if people are talking while you are singing, don't try to shut them up. You will do more damage than good. When you have found the balance of your voice, then stay with that and try to find the environment that supports that.

Frank Hamilton


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