Founder of Pro Vox in Liverpool, Senior Popular Vocals Lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire, volunteer at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital Voice Clinic, researcher and PhD student specialising in singers’ experiences in using in-ear technology. Carrie Birmingham joins Alexa this week on Singing Teachers Talk to talk us through her speciality, in-ear technology.
- Carrie started looking into in-ear technology and protection when talking to singers about the lack of precautions they take and how they don’t consider what permanent damage could be done in the future. As someone with a hearing impairment, these are things that Carrie thinks about often.
- We need to be aware of what our exposure levels actually are but it’s hard in today’s world where we’re inundated with a loud noise. Even walking down the street or eating at a restaurant, you’d be surprised just how high the decibel levels actually get.
- Hearing is a psychoacoustic response, meaning that we all hear things in a different way. For one person something could be incredibly loud and damage their hearing, whereas someone may be more used to that level of exposure. It’s about experimenting with what is suitable for you.
- Carrie thinks that as teachers we need to be more proactive about making our students with higher exposure more aware of what they need to do to keep safe. If your singer works regularly in a band or with a drummer, we should know right away that they are at higher risk.
‘There are many performers who have tinnitus and some to a level where they can’t perform anymore’
‘Is your in-ear mix safe?’
‘Singers respond to what they’re hearing as well as what they’re feeling’
Relevant Links & Mentions:
- Soundbrenner Watch
- Artists mentioned: Plan B, Chris Martin, Mariah Carey, Sigrid
- Help Musicians UK: helpmusicians.org.uk
- Psycho-Acoustics: David Howard & Ian Howell
ABOUT THE GUEST
Carrie Birmingham is a vocal teacher and researcher based across Liverpool and Leeds. Alongside running her own private studio, Pro Vox based in Liverpool, she is also a Senior Popular Vocals Lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire, a Vocal Health Education First Aid Assessor, a Singing Specialist Volunteer (VRC) at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital voice clinic, alongside current study as a PhD candidate at the School of Music, University of Leeds; specialising in ‘Singers’ experiences of working with in-ear technology. As a hearing-impaired alt-rock singer currently wearing one hearing aid, her recent years of research have taken a specific focus as to ‘how we hear’ and more specifically ‘how singers hear’, alongside ‘the impact of hearing devices/protection during live performance’, which is a field lacking in research. Carrie hopes to bring new theories to light within this subject matter in the coming years.
Carrie recently completed her MA in Applied Practice of Vocal Pedagogy with Voice Workshop Ltd. alongside recent years’ worth of CPD in Vocal Anatomy, Vocal Health, Teaching Young and Changing Voices, Auditory Processing, Vocal Rehab, and The Exploration of Tinnitus, to name a few. Prior to recent studies, she holds a Teaching Diploma in Popular Vocals from the London College of Music, and a Ba (Hons) in Popular Music & Drama and Theatre Studies from Liverpool Hope University. Her performance experience spans over 20 years as a dancer, musical theatre performer, actor, flautist, saxophonist, and singer-songwriter performing in a variety of venues and performance settings across the UK, most notably fronting alternative-rock band, F I G U R E S since 2015 and now a new duo project, Charlie’s Girl launched in late 2021.
Alongside her teaching, researching, volunteering and performing roles, Carrie is also the north area representative of the Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS) where she is involved in bringing together a community of singing teachers, choral directors, and professional voice users across the north of the UK. She hosts annual CPD events and is available to offer advice to new and growing teachers through many events and networking opportunities with the charity.