The Art of Recording Without Stress & Fear

This question was recently asked on a Facebook Percussion group: What stresses you out most about recording in the studio? Click tracks, perfect editing, etc.

My answer, without meaning to be snarky, was, Paying for it…

And I meant it. Recording time in a quality studio with a good engineer is expensive. What stresses me out the most is having things go wrong, or not being prepared, and having to pay for any time wasted. When the session starts, the dollar clock is running.

Making The Most Of Being In The Studio

I always approach recording just like playing a live show and more. The 3 most important rules are:

1 - Be prepared.
2 - Be Prepared.
3 - Be prepared.

I can't emphasize this enough. Before you get into the studio, rehearse your material and rehearse it some more. There's nothing worse than wasting time trying to figure out something you should have known before you set foot in the studio. Rehearse your material and make sure you know it.

Next, know what you want to get out of your recording. What type of sound are you looking for? You should communicate with the studio/engineer in advance and even give them some recordings of the type of sound/vibe you are after. This helps the engineer prepare for the session too, instead of just showing up not having any idea of what you want to achieve.

Next, make sure all your gear is in working order! There's nothing worse than having a great session grind to a halt because of equipment failure. You then have to wait to either fix something, or replace it, and the vibe might be lost.

As drummers, make sure your pedals and stands don't squeak or make noise. Can you imagine getting a great take that is marred by a squeak you can't hide or edit out. 

The dreaded click track. If you are using a click, make sure you are comfortable playing with it! Work with it before hand. Don't just expect to show up and play to a click if you haven't done it before. You'll most likely be embarrassed and waste a lot of costly time. 

Repeat: practice to a click before you get into the studio.

Also be prepared to make changes, especially if you are working with a producer. They may hear things you don't because they haven't lived with the music like you have. Sometimes a good pair of ears from outside can help you get a better arrangement or to tighten up a song. 

These are just the basic steps. We could go into a lot more detail, as recording is a very expansive thing. But this is a good place to start.

I once recorded 3 different albums in a marathon 12 hour recording session. I was prepared, the engineer was ready, and we just got to work.

Are you prepared enough not to be stressed?

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™


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