by White Noise
Someone in the community emailed me about being nervous about live beatboxing, so here's a rambling reply...
- Relax and go for it! If you feel pressured when performing, remind yourself that you are doing it for fun, not trouble! Don't panic, and all will be fine. Beatboxing is still relatively rare and can be extremely impressive to people who have never heard it. In four years of live shows, I am yet to get heckled, hassled or abused on stage. I'd like to think that it's because I am so talented, but in reality it is because people are interested in things they have never heard about, and this includes beatbox.I am a fairly quiet person and used to be very shy. I have found beatboxing has changed a lot of that. Once you have made noises with your mouth on stage in front of a few thousand people other things do not seem so scary! My best advice is to understand that it's worth it. The buzz of rocking a live show is hard to beat. It gives you an intense satisfaction.The first time I beatboxed in front of a live crowd I did not want to do it and was pressured into it by a mate. Since then, I have done 300+ shows, taught classes and delivered beatboxing workshops. There have been so many fun and interesting opportunities. If i had not had the guts to do it that first time, none of these other things would have happened.
- Try not to think too hard. When I go on stage I am not thinking. I am blocking out everything, the crowd, the noise - all of it - and relaxing as much as I can. I still get a little nervous, and this is a good thing. If you are not nervous then you might be cocky and this is never good in an artist.
- Write down performance notes or a set list. You can forget things on stage with all the other things going on. It is a great idea to have notes in case you get stuck for ideas on what to do. I use an outline of a set of routines and only go to it when I need to.
- Take water on stage with you.
- If you find yourself panicking, force yourself to breath slowly. This can calm you down quickly.
- Work on your presentation. You should not be cocky but you should be confident. Talk to the audience. Explain who you are and what you're doing. It makes for a better show. Give them something to look at as well as listen to. Move around the stage and move your hands.
- Learn a bit about sound equipment and live performance. Knowing how to reduce feedback and talk to a sound engineer can save a lot of embarassment. Bad sound at a gig = a bad gig. It makes ALL the difference. Always do a soundcheck. If you're just starting off performing this might not be possible, but try anyway.
- Sound checks usually take place an hour or so before the show. When you do a sound check, beatbox into the mic on stage - don't just say "Testing, 1, 2, 3". The sound enigineer will try to sort you out. After he or she has done that, you can then ask for changes if you want more bass or top end.With beatboxing, it's a matter of EQ (equalisation) and Gain. EQ is the balance of low, middle and high frequencies (like bass and treble). Gain is the sound level from the microphone into the mixer. It is NOT how loud it is. If the gain is too high, your sounds will all be very bass heavy, distorted and muddy. If the gain is too low, your sounds will be very weak. A good idea is to use a sound effect that has both low and high sounds in it, and use this to find the right amount of gain. the amount where your beatboxing is crisp and clear.Too much gain and too much high end frequencies can lead to feedback in the monitors. Monitors are speakers on stage for the artists to hear what they are doing. Feedback is when you the sound is being picked up by the mic and travelling through the speakers, and through the mic again, and again. The sound loops and is aimplified each time it goes through the amplifier resulting in a squeeling sound. The lower the volume/gain the less feedback there will be. Standing away from the monitors helps this as does NOT CUPPING THE MIC. If feedback is a problem, give the mic room to 'breathe' by not covering any of it with your hand/fingers.You will get used to what you like to sound like live after a few performances. During a performance feel free to ask the soundman to turn you up or give you more bass, mid, or high. Also make sure other mics onstage are turned off as they will cause feedback too if they're on.ALWAYS THANK YOUR SOUNDMAN, HE OR SHE IS YOUR FRIEND!
- Above all, don't give up. Everyone starts off being nervous. Everyone has bad gigs (even Rahzel). Everyone will find themselves on a terrible sound system at least once in their careers! Keep at your craft, treat it with respect and all problems will sort themselves out, trust me.