In our continued quest to help singers make their audition packet shine, we asked Jeremy Gerard, Chief Recording Engineer at Gurari Studios, for his top tips on getting the most out of your audition recording session. Jeremy is a GRAMMY nominated audio engineer who has been recording and producing singers and musicians for over 20 years; he is also a trained classical singer and is thus particularly attuned to the recording needs of vocal artists. Recording season is about to hit the high gear, so don’t wait until the last minute to book your session at Gurari Studios! Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on their website at www.guraristudios.com.
10 Strategies for getting the most out of your recording session
1.The biggest mistake singers make when going to a professional studio is they tend to opt for quantity over quality. Meaning they bring in way too many pieces to record and it’s all about getting those pieces down to tape. An opera singer’s recording session generally lasts for 2 hours of time. The average singer will record 4 pieces in 2 hours. Anything more than this is just counterproductive because you won’t sound fresh. Plan ahead, if you have a huge load of arias to get down, book multiple sessions.
2. Don’t wait until the last second to book a recording session. Booking a studio can be very difficult in high season (August to January) due to all the YAP’s and competitions. You also don’t want to get trapped in having to edit and mix your project right after your recording session. You want to take an out take CD home which contains all the material that you did at the session and mull it over. Maybe even have another set of ears you trust have a listen and determine the best takes. It’s always best to re-listen numerous times with fresh ears, you’ll be surprised…takes you thought were good won’t sound so good after all and vice versa.
3. Always listen to playbacks during your recording session. By listening to playbacks you can learn and instantly change things and correct mistakes during the session. By the time you get it home it’s too late and you either need to book another session or live with the mistake.
4. Prior to your recording session do not excessively warm up. Just like a performance you don’t want to “leave it” at home. You want to be fresh and as the session continues you will inevitably warm up.
5. When possible always provide single sided taped music for both yourself and your pianist. Use multiple stands if you need to spread the music out. Page turns are distracting for both the performers and the listeners.
6. Becoming a fine recording artist is a totally different animal than being a live performing artist. You must give the performance of your life without an audience. This is an incredibly difficult task to achieve. That is why you must not in any circumstance be glued to your music during a recording session, this will only create a static result.
7. Give yourself options in your recordings: try a phrase or piece in different ways, don’t be afraid to experiment, take a risk, be daring! The worst that will happen is you don’t use it in the final composite. Countless times, I have seen musicians do the same phrase over and over again exactly the same way to no avail. Step back from it, take a break, discuss a plan and experiment!
8. If a piece or a phrase is just not working move on! Come back to it at a later point in the session. There is no use in trying to force something to happen, by just leaving it for later or taking a break, I guarantee you will eventually get it.
9. Many singers tell me at the top of any given session that they are so nervous, more nervous than an audition or performance. Nerves are good and can create an exhilarating performance if channeled in the right way. Although, when recording there really is nothing to be nervous about…use the technology to your advantage, if you mess up, no big deal! We just retake it.
10. It’s always good at some point during the recording process whether it’s at the actual recording session or later to have an extra set of ears that you trust take a listen to your material. Many engineers such as myself are also producers and can offer their suggestions to you. Furthermore, you must also learn to produce yourself. It’s your product and every decision is ultimately up to you, learn to take control!
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