Reply To: Volume control and over enthusiastic audiences

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From: “Barra the Bard”
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2017 12:19:01 -0500

Jenny,

About the mic—from your last email, I get the impression you are thinking of a hand-held mic. You can use a lavelier or clip-on mic, which is my preference whenever possible. As to brand names, I can’t help you, not actually owning amplification myself, although others on the list can and will, if you ask.

It can be a challenge to move outside one’s comfort zone, but usually well worth it! Case in point: as a beginning teller, I realized that I didn’t know what to do with my hands. Once I was aware of that, I spent a solid year working on it. So, off to the Ligonier Highland Games—and I woke up with vertigo! Had to spend the day with one hand on my husband’s shoulder as we walked, so I wouldn’t be staggering as if I’d had a few too many drams…. and when I did tell both times, found myself feeling nailed to the stage, afraid to move for fear of staggering or triggering extreme nausea. What gestures I used were minimal and very small, although I suppose they looked more natural in consequence (some of my new gestures, in retrospect, looked like a cross between a demented octopus and a Dutch windmill in a high wind). it so happened that I’d been asked to tell a story at the ceilkdh that evening. Unfortunately, I’d chosen to do my signature tale, “Granny, the Giant Piper & the Root Cellar” which involved my sitting on the edge of a chair and raising my eyes from the floor to up over my head (to indicate the giant looming over me). Oh, my stomach! And taking the large step down from the dais, my heel caught in the hem of my long dress, almost pitching me on my head, just to make things complete in the Memorable Gigs I’d Rather Not Have Had category.

To get back to the mic issue: this list is a valuable and varied resource for many tips on how to integrate a hand-held mic into your performance. I don’t even think about it anymore, except to (regretfully) omit some props. Or else I set the hand-held on a stand so my hands are free for that story, then pick up the mic for the rest of the program. Like so many aspects of telling, it depends on the story, the venue, and the audience.
–Barra

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