Getting ready for recording

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.


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!


Luis Tovar

Luis Tovar

Playing with feeling

Oh boy, playing music with feeling… what can I say? This is something I know about in practice but putting into words for someone else is something else. I am mentioning this topic – feeling in music – because last week someone posted this question: “How can I play with feeling?” – (scared laugh)…how do you explain that?

Let me try my best and hopefully it helps… here’s my take on “playing with feeling?”

I am sure you have heard the term before, perhaps you have read it somewhere or even someone might have told you to play with feeling or to feel the music when you’re playing.

I guess we can start by saying that listening to music makes you feel something. Especially music you like; perhaps it brings back good memories or reminds you of someone?

Music is intangible but it is so powerful and transmits sonic vibrations that make you feel something. It is crazy how sometimes when listening to some heavy music, your mood can easily change or perhaps when you’re feeling stressed, listening to Jazz or Reggae puts you in a good mood. That is a feeling. But what about playing music with feeling? Is that the same?

I think that playing with feeling means a connection, a strong connection between the player and the musical instrument. But some technique, knowledge and good music playing experience is a must have in order to play with feeling, simply because the more you know your instrument, the more comfortable you are playing it. And in order to “play with feeling” you must feel very comfortable with what you play.

Playing with feeling is not about over thinking what chords or rhythm you should be playing, it is more about playing what you ‘feel’ will sound good, what you feel will express what you or your band are trying to convey through music and lyrics.

Playing with feeling comes with the time… see it this way, it is like a girlfriend/boyfriend, the more time you spend with that special person, the more you get to know them and appreciate them and therefore the more feelings you feel for him/her. Playing music is like that, the more you play it, practice it and get to know it, the more you love it and the easier it becomes to express your feelings with it, for it and through it.

I hope some of these words give you an idea of what playing with feeling is. If you have something to say about it, please feel free to post a comment below.

And, to finish…

Music is what feelings sound like. -Author Unknown
“Music is the silence between the notes.” – Claude Debussy
“Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent” – Victor Hugo
“Play the music, not the instrument.” – author Unknown

Cheers to all and don’t forget to feel the music! always!