Ok, I've recently started checking out the P+W of a church that streams it's services. It's a large church. One thing I've noticed is that regardless of whether they play an instrument, they all appear to use mic stands when singing.
So, I thought I'd ask to see what other churches are doing. Typically at our church a lead vocalist w/o an instrument holds the mic. But upon noticing this other church, I realized using a mic stand could be viewed as an outward sign of humility...that perhaps holding the mic can confer some form of status to the singer.
Just thought it would be good to hear some other perspectives. Have a blessed day!
I'm not sure if I've heard of the notion of humility via a mic-stand. However, for our church, recently it's been a blessing to get our singers not to use mic stands. It was born out of recent initiative to get the vocalist to use the mic better. If you look at most professional concerts, good singers have a very intimate relationship with their mic.
They are all in very close proximity to the mic and good or even great vocalist adjust that distance to added effect. Think volume and the bass/freq response-distance phenomenon. If you look at the history of rock/pop, crooners were actually created out of the mic phenomenon. Without the modern mic, you wouldn't have those "cool-cats". Other artists like Celine Dion, use the mic as a tool, adjusting the distance from her lips as a way to re-enforce dynamics.
To the mic stands are where you put the mic when you're using it. Granted, when I play guitar, which is a lot I *have* to use a mic stand because we don't have a good wireless like country-man or something like that.
I think if anything you should nurture a positive relationship with the mic, much like guitarist and their "axe" or baby. It's weird, I always try to play the "spot the mic" game with videos of liver performances. For example, Jakob Dylan, son of great Bob Dylan of the band Wall Flowers seems to love using a relatively inexpensive SM57 as his vocal of choice. He must like that coloring, as he could afford a way more expensive mic if he wanted to. A wife of a pastor at a church I know always brings her own Audix OM-2 and swears by it. Another worship pastor/performing artist bought his own Shure Beta 58 to bring around with him.
At the very least, if the vocalist is holding onto the mic, it can only be arms length away and most likely much closer than that. There is no excuse why it can't be close enough to the mouth if you yourself are holding onto it. As an A/V guy too, this is probably the most important thing for me. When the vocalist holds the mic, they can control the proximity more, and I can pump more volume through the monitors before it feeds back. (Unless of course they have this nasty habit of dropping the mic with their arms to their sides between songs...which will cause nasty feedback.) They can turn and somewhat shield or leverage the pick-up pattern of the mic to add additional headroom. I'm pretty sure this this is a big part of why some mega churches get singers to hold their own mics.
So yeah, for me, practically speaking, I want all my vocalist to be holding the mic (unless they can't, ie. when they are playing an instrument or clapping with a song, etc) .
Never thought about the humility thing. To me it was a practicality issue: For the musician, a boom stand is best because you simply can't hold your mic while playing an instrument. For the singers, a stand keeps them from pointing the mic at the monitor by mistake.
HOWEVER...in our church the BGVs hold their mics, and put them on a low multi-head stand when they're done. It's nice not to have the mic stands sticking up through the powerpoint images on stage. But the problem I have is that most of them are afraid of the mic and don't hold it close, or they constantly move it all over the place. So the gains are pretty high and their volume is inconsistant. I don't find that mic stands help this problem in any way.
I tend to "eat the mic" when I sing (I'm playing guitar at the same time), meaning that I stay very close to it, even touching it with my lips at times. If I'm going to hit a powerful note, I'll pull back. It's one reason I'll never be comfortable using a headset, as I use distance and space to control my sound.
In the end I don't see mic stands as a method of encouraging humility. Humbleness is a big issue, though, so if it helps, go for it.
That was part of the reason I was asking, was to see if others saw the use of stands to connote humility or togetherness. I know that holding a mic gives the singer a much greater control of how their voice is picked up. And it's funny, I don't think it matters much whether you're holding the mic or having it on a stand, clapping while you're singing is always made somewhat inconvenient unless you use a headset.
Sorry, CS but I don't totally agree. :) Yes, any "technique" can be made to look showy and thereby become a preformance issue, whether it's better guitar technique, keyboard skills or whatever.
But that doesn't excuse us from being good at what we do. When I talk about controlling my sound, it's so that I don't distract the audience by singing too loud sometimes and too quiet other times.
Just like my guitar sound, my vocals need to contribute to the song in a way that brings people into God's presence (as much as it lies with me), rather than distracting them by being so quiet that they can't learn the melody with me, or by booming out at the wrong time and causing them to stare at me like there was something wrong.
I think it's important to understand that when we talk about things like technique, skill levels, stage presence, and other topics that we'd normally attribute to mainstream music performers, that in this forum of worship leaders we are speaking with the understanding that we are really addressing the issue of what scripture calls "playing skillfully" in the Psalms.
We are not all Celine Dions or Pavarottis, but I believe that if we are given the role of worship leading, then we need to do the best with what we've been given. To do less is like the servant who buried his talent in the ground. If I recall, the master wasn't too pleased with that.
Hope I haven't come across to heavy on this issue, but as you can tell, it's one that resonates with me! Blessings.
In our service, everybody has a stand, those who play and sing have a boom, otherwise a straight stand, like one of the other responders (CS). Primary advantage of this for me is the lack of handling noise and reduced likelihood that a singer will turn off their mic (although they'd have to remove about eight inches of electrical tape to even get to the switch on our mics :-) Also, the mics never get accidentally swapped between singers (the sound tech's nightmare) and the singers aren't tempted to go walking around with their mics into the path of oncoming feedback or drop their hands to their sides and point the mic right into a monitor.
In terms of the whole humility issue, for me, anybody displaying a lot of handheld mic technique or wearing a headset mic comes across as more of a "performer" than a "worship leader." YMMV, but for me, mics on stands is the most appropriate thing for a worship leading group. Every time I see somebody with one of those headset mics (with the possible exception of a drummer), it says to me somebody is trying to be a star and it's a turnoff. Again, YMMV, but if your congregation's average age is over 30, I would avoid the headset mics and limit the use of the handhelds.
Our pastor wears a wireless lavalier, but since they're generally omnidirectional, lavalier mics really don't work for band members. But for the pastor, it's probably the best way of creating the impression that there is no mic involved at all :-)
I've used a headset mic and a mic on a boom and find advantages and disadvantages with each, but I've ended up prefering the boom just because of the sound of the SM58. I agree with the BGV's using mics on a stand because of handling noise and better tech control. If you watch any concert, that is what they do and I'm sure that is why. I've never considered it a spiritual issue, but some people HAVE questioned the scarves hanging from my stand. (okay, I'm kidding)
Silly me. I thought the background vocalist on mic stands is because of the Motown and such with backup vocalist also semi-dancing.
Think of such bands as the Supremes (who started out as back-up vocalist for a male group) had choreographed moved to their songs, which involved hands and body movement, necessitating the use of microphones on stands.
I don't see how you can more control over the microphone with it being on a stand, in a fixed position. A good stage microphone should not be overly sensitive to handing noise. If that were the case, I'm sure they would sell them with shock-mounts. As long as you're not rubbing it on your shirt, it should be fine. *but* as with anything in live, of source it's prone to user error.
I don't think "all" concert has vocalist with stands. I believe it's related more to how much movement the background vocalists have to do with their hands vs. anything else.
Speaking of choreographed dancing: Does anyone else have a problem with a dancing horn section? I don't mind, but sometimes we start to look like The Blues Brothers. I mean I guess that's alright because we are on a mission from Gad.