I know that you want this record to be as professional as possible. In order for that to happen, you have to be professional. Here is a check list of things that you can do to ensure a successful record:
1) Come physically prepared. Get plenty of rest before each session. Eat right. Drink plenty of fluids. Take vitamin C, drink hot tea with honey or lemon. Do not drink after anyone, and wash your hands so often your parents will think you have OCD.
2) Come musically prepared. Know every note, every interval, every rhythm, entrance, cut-off, breath, vowel, color, style, lyric, etc. If you are unsure of ANYTHING, make sure you know what is correct before the session. Do not take the attitude of....”Oh, it’ll be okay, no one will notice.” This is where you would be wrong. Things that go unnoticed in a live rehearsal or performance show up quite clearly on disc. And usually, we can tell which voice is in error. One misplaced “S” will require us to re-record that particular pass. This is a costly waste of time. Ask yourself...is there anything on any song that I am not 100% confident in singing? If the answer is yes, you have work to do. Please do not come to the studio with any unanswered questions. The time for that is in class, not in the studio.
3) You have heard me say that the most difficult part of recording is good intonation. I want you to be mentally prepared to sing in tune. I don’t want you focusing on anything other than singing in the center of the pitch. In order for that to happen, you must be mentally sharp and ready to work physically in terms of good posture and good breath support.
4) Please be thick-skinned. I have never had a session when I did not ask someone not to sing on a pass. Sometimes it can be due to intonation problems, sometimes due to balance problems. Even the very best singers sometimes have difficulty in these areas. If your solo is not working, I may have someone else sing it so that we have two options from which to choose in the mixing process. The time to work out any difficulties you may have with your part is prior to the session, not during. If it takes too long to record your part, we will have to assign it to someone else. The best way to ensure that you keep your solo is to nail it like a professional on the first try. If you were not vetted (having earned 85% on Garageband Tests) you may not be able to record a particular song with the group, although the goal will be to perform it at the Showcase. If Scott or I ask you to step back or layout altogether, please understand....it is not personal, it is professional.
5) The studio is a blast if you are a person who is energized by hard work and doing what it takes to do something well. When we are ready to record, there should be NO TALKING. Any effort expended on my or Scott’s part to get you to be quiet is effort that could have been spent getting a pass to sound better. There should be absolute silence in the 5 seconds prior to going red and the 5 seconds after we stop. This saves time and money in the mixing process. When I raise my hand, all talking should cease in mid-sentence. Girls, don’t wear jewelry that clanks or jingles. Guys, take keys out of pockets, etc. The time to go to the bathroom or go find your water bottle is not as we are gathering around the mics to record. Anticipate! Be prepared.
6) Be prepared with your solos. You may have the opportunity to try it twice but it likely won’t be more than that. Know what lick you will do and be ready to double if Scott asks you to. One thing that hangs soloists up each year is singing ahead or behind the track. When you practice, be sure you are feeling the strong beats and the subdivisions so what you sing lines up with the track. Every year solos sound great by the time we perform live in concert because you get comfortable with them and add style and personality. When you listen back to the CD, you are disappointed in your performance compared to the live show. Make those additions of style now so that you won’t have any regrets. OWN IT!
7) Treat Shane or any engineers or staff at the studio respectfully. Show your class by cleaning-up after yourselves and keeping your noise level to a minimum.
8) Don’t come dressed like a homeless person. We may have the opportunity to take some pictures, and possibly even some video. You don’t have to be in dress code, but bathe, and don’t come in your pajamas. Please dress appropriately.
Thank you for your dedication to this project. Any sacrifices you make now will long be forgotten by the time the CD comes out and you will be glad you went the extra mile. I think with a lot of last minute effort, we can make this an amazing project. Please email me if you have any questions and practice, practice practice!