I'm a decent singer, and I'm used to singing different acoustic parts (e.g. as part of an acappella group) with no problems.

But for some reason when singing backing vocals in a band, I lose my pitch all the time. It feels like I can't hear myself, which I suspect has to do with the fact that my voice is coming from some monitor or speaker together with the lead vocals and the other instruments, and I can't find it in the mix.

What can I do to better track my own voice when singing backing vocals on a mic, other than the obvious "turn up your mic's volume"?

  • 3
    Use in-ear monitor instead. Lots of band members who do vocals (or backing vocals) use that as an alternative.
    – seseorang
    Jun 16, 2015 at 14:29
  • 2
    That would be a great idea, except we don't have the budget for in-ear monitors (most rehearsals are done with the rehearsal studio's monitors, and some lack them entirely and rely solely on PA). I was hoping for some tips or techniques for finding my own voice in the mix, without special equipment. I mean, backup singers have been doing this for a long time, surely there's a way to do it right.
    – Avish
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:57
  • Make sure you are not experiencing significant latency. That can throw you off easily. Jun 17, 2015 at 6:28

2 Answers 2


Singing a cappella means the sound only comes from the singers' mouths. It is probably far easier to retain a balance of voices this way. Using mics introduces another dimension - where the sound is now coming from. It's much harder for singers to hear and respond to a mix coming from somewhere 'disembodied'. It also introduces the 'power' syndrome in some, as in listen to me, don't I sound great, and I want to hear more me. The sound volume takes away the propensity to hear oneself through one's skull/head. With acoustic singing, you can hear your own voice due to sound transmission which isn't there once amplified - the p.a. takes it away, as it's much louder.

Having a foldback with a slight upping of your own volume is one answer, although not a good one.Then, of course, everyone else will want their mic turned up as well! If the house p.a. sound has been mixed properly and you still have a problem, do as the archetypical folk singers do, and put a hand over an ear, loosely. This will reflect your own voice into your ear. Trouble is, it looks odd!


You can amplify your own voice to your ear by cupping your hand, with the heel in firm contact with the side of your jaw, near your mouth, and your fingertips resting lightly on your cheekbone. If you try this you will find that your voice is getting funneled toward your ear. Perhaps you could put an ear plug in the other ear.

Sightsinging exercises might be helpful. You will get more solid with where tonic is -- the feel of it. And dominant. And so on. We want you to be able to do the equivalent of a pianist finding his notes blindfolded.

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