The time has come! You have a band, you have been practicing hard for the last few months and have all your songs sounding perfect, what’s next? Besides getting gigs, a recording would be ideal. Recording either a demo, an EP or going for a LP!
The recording process is really cool. Well, for first timers it can be scary, it was for me a few years ago. Perhaps I was musically well prepared but just the simple fact of being in a studio environment, headphones with a click track and trying to play perfect made me a bit stressed. I was thinking too much instead of trusting all my hours of practice and feeling the groove. I think I have now learned to enjoy the recording situation way more.
I did some recordings with a couple of bands in the last few months, and the other night, while being in the studio I started to create a to-do list in my mind before going into the recording sessions. If you wanna have a successful recording session, you have to fight for it and be prepared.
So this is my list – as a drummer, translated for you as a pianist:
The Gear: For the acoustic piano players. Your acoustic piano will be surrounded by at least 2 high quality mics, your sound will be captured at a 150%, whether it’s red hot or not-so. Perhaps your piano has a little problem that your ear cannot detect, well, the microphones will and you don’t want this in your recording.
So you definitely need to check out that your gear, whichever it is, it is in pristine condition.
The performance: Gear in perfect condition is very important but it is nothing if you are not prepared and ready to record. Unless you have your own home studio or you have an unlimited budget for recording you can take it slow and even go to practice in the studio. But most of us have to pay hundreds to get just a few hours of a recording session, so make it count.
Practice with your band as if you were in the studio already. Always try to get perfection in your playing. Practice extra hours at home on your own, practice and play every song at least a couple of times everyday. It won’t take you long and you will thank me once your recording is sounding amazingly well played.
Get a piece of paper and write down your parts, solos and ideas for every track, write down all the arrangements and have them all ready for when the time comes – this will be really helpful to nail things better.
It goes without saying, ALWAYS PRACTICE WITH A METRONOME.
Positive and open attitude: It doesn’t matter if this is your first or 10th time in a professional recording studio, always have a good attitude about what you do and also about what others suggest you might do.
A recording engineer has experience, he or she has listened to many bands, many great, good and not so good pianists. If someone suggests you do something, try it out; they are doing it to help you achieve a better sound. PLEASE DO NOT be offended if he or she tells you to change something with your playing or your gear, it is always worth trying every suggestion out! The results can be way better than what you expected.
Have fun. Recording is an amazing experience that will be captured on audio for the rest of your life, make it sound nice. Be happy while recording it, create a nice vibe between you, your playing, your sound, the studio and of course, your band. If you are positive and happy, your music will be influenced and will be heard like that!
I know recording can be stressful, you are paying money and spending a whole day in a room but try to love it! Experiences like this don’t happen everyday.
These are the things I always keep in mind and of course I do before getting into the studio. You should start preparing maybe a month or two before getting into the studio. You won’t regret it!
Hope this helps and don’t forget to let us know about your recording experiences. Any questions or problems you would like to share? Please comment them out!