Today I taught a workshop at Northlands Confabulation!
It was all about using the microphone. I've written about this in the past, but mostly to encourage people to ask for one, and why.
Today I had the joy of playing with the mic with some storytellers.
Let's begin at the beginning -
Why should you use the mic?
It allows you to be conversational with a large number of people. It also allows you to get volume without having to do so much work. It saves your voice.
You only work as long as your voice is intact if you are a voiced storyteller. If you are in multiple venues, use interesting vocal work, or want any kind of nuance, you need a mic. Without one, you are likely to hurt yourself from overstressing your voice over time.
You also lose so much texture and tone without a mic.
I gave examples of how different something sounds when you move the mic away. Still, there are those who stress their voices.
There are lots of articles about the care and feeding of your voice if you do have trouble. You can check out my hot tips about that here.
Next, we talked about movement with a standing mic -
The story happens in the space all around you. Whenever you move into that space, you break the storytelling illusion. Trust the story to fill the stage. Here is a deeper discussion about that.
Our next discussion was about sound effects -
We talked about sound effects with a mic
I started with a little bit of the Boo Hag, which is one of my favorite ghosty tales to tell.
I shared the scene where she spins off her skin. Very creepy.
Then, we talked about two different types of sound effects.
Unvoiced sounds -
These are the sounds you make with your lips, teeth, and tongue. They do not involve your vocal folds. When you use unvoiced sounds with a microphone, the thing that adds volume is the air that comes out of your mouth and interacts with the mic. The more air you use, the louder the sounds, but none of it involves your voice! This often requires practice, but it is a very effective way to make great noises that don't stress your voice.
We also spoke of effective lip placement to get the most out of unvoiced sound effects.
This requires stretching your lips forward and parting your lips wide enough to allow the air to flow.
Voiced Sounds. -
Voiced sounds require you to engage your vocal folds, and they are the animal noises, squeaking, walking, and any other kind of sound that involves adding voiced sounds that are not narrative or conversational.
Microphones allow you to exploit using a small amount of effort to achieve a great amount of sound. Some of these sounds could hurt your voice if you power through them.
Then, we talked about my absolute favorite thing....Jump Stories!
Jump stories happen when you lull the audience into complacency by creating a soft, even hypnotic
How do you set that moment up to get the jump?
1 - Don't broadcast it.
2 - Slow down, move into a comforting tone.
3 - Use air and voice to make a loud enough sound to cause the jump.
4 - Use a far more quiet voice leading into the jump
5 - Don't just use your voice - Give your body a percussive moment as well.
One of the things we discussed was connecting your body, voice, and face. When you put all of these elements together, you will be able to figure out what parts of your story need sound effects and which do not.
Controlling Loud and Soft Sounds
We moved on from jump stories to talking about how you use the microphone to control how loud you want voiced sounds to be, and how you go through a story using the distance from your mouth to the microphone to make appropriately loud or soft sounds.
Some you make into the microphone, some you make away from the microphone.
Your body doesn't move away from the mic, your head does. Some sounds, like a crying crocodile, I make away from the mic, and other sounds like the wind or a whisper, are made right into the mic.
We ended our session by talking about how you control an audience with a microphone.
Controlling An Audience
If you are in front of two hundred kids, you can either use the mic to tell them to come back to center, or you can start speaking soft enough to catch their ears.
With really little kids, you can make odd noises into the mic that catch their attention.
Ultimately, what I recommend is that you think about the age group of the students, and tell age-appropriate material crafted in a way that makes it easier for the audience to consume.
Here is an admittedly dense post about using the audience. It has links to some of my posts about choosing and executing stories for various age student audiences.
To everyone who just checked in to see what we did: Welcome! I hope this little summary offers you a bite or two at the apple we consumed today.