The Finished Product: How to Record Your Music

I have been working on getting my music recorded and this is my first result. It is simple and anyone can get something like this together successfully and it will be the first step in gaining a foothold in musical communities. Below I will discuss the recording process.

How necessary is it to record your music? Will it help you reach your goals as a musician?

I have so many goals as a singer. To teach, to perform on stage, and to record. All of these things are something you are going to do at some point in your musical journey but the hardest and most expensive part is going to be trying to get a recording. It is not as hard as you might think.

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The first thing you need is a recording studio computer program. Audacity is a free recording program that is perfect for the starting musician. It is easy to use and a great resource for anyone getting started. There are a few important effects and tricks you’ll need to learn. Outside of the basics, you’ll want to learn a few key effects like equalization, normalization, and noise reduction. These will make your music sound very professional even with a not so great microphone. A few other programs to check out if you want to spend the money on them are ReaperProTools, Cubase, and Logic (Mac Only). Each has their own different cost and learning curve with Protools and Logic being the highest and Reaper being the lowest. They all usually have student discounts as well so if you are in school make sure you get that because it will save you a lot!

Now that we have covered the stuff that can be free, let’s talk about Equipment!

You will want a decent microphone. The built in laptop microphone is okay to start out, but definitely not what you want. I personally own a Blue Yeti microphone and it is pretty great. It picks up everything with beautiful clarity. The best way to pick out a microphone though is to go to your local music store. Try and find one that isn’t a chain but is locally owned. They tend to be run by real musicians that have used the product and have real experience with different things.The most important thing is definitely do not spend less than $100 on a microphone. Trust me, it will be worth saving up for. You’ll also want a decent pop filter for your microphone. It is the foamy/cloth thing that goes in front of the mic to avoid picking up too much of your breath when you use plosive consonants like Ps or Ts. They aren’t very expensive and you don’t need to send a lot on it, just make sure that it will attach to your mic easily. You also might want an adjustable stand to make it more convenient to record instruments or if other people are also going to be recording. But that isn’t as necessary. Lastly you’ll want a decent set of noise cancelling headphones. You’ll want to hear your playback on something that can pick up every little detail so that you can make sure you eliminate any small mistakes.sheetsnthings123

Now that you know what software and equipment you’ll need, you will want to set up your recording space. What you will want is a quiet room that is as sound proof as possible. Windows, wood floors, and other hard surfaces reflect noise creating extra sound that your microphone will pick up. To limit those noises you’ll want a carpeted room and what I did for my recording was hung up thick sheets along the walls. If you don’t mind spending money though, you can always buy the kind of sound-proofing foam that professionals use but I would only do that in a room that isn’t very easy to get quiet.

So that is everything you need to do it yourself, though that isn’t your only option if you want to record. Finding a studio that will help you record your music can be a really wonderful experience. It can be pretty expensive though. It can be a few hundred up to a thousand dollars per track. If you’re in school though you might be able to find some budding audio engineers that want to practice. Then you can both get some great experience recording. Or you can also see if there is anyone who would let you do a track for free just to see if you want to record with them. If you have a new band sometimes studios will run special promotions to get more people to come use them. So make as many connections as you can with other musicians to try and find those deals!

The main thing to know before going to a studio recording is have your music learned 100%. This might seem somewhat obvious but you, and anyone recording with you, need to be able to play your part independently and flawlessly. You can’t do any practice or last minute changes that you haven’t rehearsed on a studio engineers time. They often get booked solid and any time you spend figuring out your harmony or instrumental part is huge waste of their time and your time. You will also want to be as professional as you can when dealing with them. No cussing, no attitude, and be super respectful. The connections you make with your local studios can be incredibly helpful to your music career. They can help you get gigs and recording with other groups. They can help you meet producers that could be interested in your content. Working well with an audio engineer will have an amazing effect on your music. They are musicians too so it is somewhat of a collaboration when recording with one of them. They can also give you tips for working with a microphone that will be super helpful if you decided to switch to doing it yourself.

So get started on recording! And if you like my song go ahead and give it a like on SoundCloud, I would certainly appreciate it. If you have your own music I would love to see some links in the comments to your own work. If I like it then I’ll give you that helpful thumbs up, and offer constructive critiques to help you out!

 

 

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Power Performing

One of the hardest thing with music is actually performing. Getting on stage and remembering all of the techniques you’ve practiced. I feel like whenever I perform I lost about 30% of things that I practiced. There are several things that you can do to combat this though.

First! Practice so much that it becomes habit. Remember though, perfect practice is the only way to have a perfect performance. Pay attention to everything you do and make sure you don’t let anything weird things creep in like strange hand gestures, weird tenseness in your face, or closing your eyes too much. And practice in front of a mirror, that way you can see if anything looks extra strange.

Second, all of your expression should come from your face. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use your body as well, but any gestures you make should be deliberate, clear, and big. If you don’t think a line deserves a big physical gesture than it doesn’t need any physical gesture. Your arms should just hang loose by your sides if you’re not using them. One warm-up exercise you can use to get use to this is sing on an “ah” up a fifth and then descend back down. While doing this lift your arm up and gesture out and then as you descend just let it fall naturally. You may feel tension and feel it want to descend slowly, but don’t let it! Just let it fall limp. Try this with other gestures like putting your hand over your heart, or on your neck, or wringing your hands together, but each time allow your arm to just drop naturally afterwards.

Third, practice your technique through your character. If you’re having trouble take big breaths then take a breath like your character might. Are you surprised? excited? sad? bored? It is always important to make sure you still maintain your posture though so don’t let your expression enter your body too much.

Fourth, your natural slate. Look at yourself in the mirror and completely relax your face into the most normal you can get it. This is your slate. This is the natural pallette you were given to express with. Maybe you have more of a frown in your face, this means you have to try harder to look happy, but less to look sad. Experiment with this and see what works best for you.

Now the most important, when you are outside of the practice room and on stage. When you are on stage and all your nerves are coursing through you, there honestly not a lot you can do to overcome that. You are going to feel nervous, and that’s okay. All you need to do is look down for a second, get in character, take a few deep breaths, I like to think of one or two important techniques that I need to sing well, then look up, and perform. It is that simple. It could feel like forever, but your audience wants the best you they can get, so give it to them!

An amazing book that covers some of these topics, and much more is Power Performance for Singers. Check it out and I’m sure you will learn a lot!

Starting Your Own Music Group

It isn’t easy starting out brand new. There are many things to keep in mind when you are trying to create a band, a choir, a musical, or any other collaborative musical idea you might have. It may seem intimidating at first but just do one thing at a time and it’ll be easy!

First decide on how committed you want to be to this project, and how much time you want to commit. Think about who else you might want to get involved in it as well. Starting something with people you are already friends with is great but sometimes tapping the talent in your community by holding public auditions can also be great. Also think about how leadership will work. Will you be making all the decisions? Will it be a group effort? Someone usually needs to lead the rehearsal so that there is a clear agenda and everyone is forced to work instead of just hang out and chat which will happen frequently.

You’ll also want to start think about necessary equipment that you’ll need. Most groups get what they need over time. You more than likely can’t afford hundreds of dollars of high quality sound equipment, nor should you spend that much before working with your group for a little while. But an amplifier and a set of microphones and a sound board will only run maybe $300-400. This shouldn’t be super difficult to get over the period of a year or so possibly earlier. A lot of venues will already have at least some simple equipment so that you can go mostly acoustic for a while and earn some money for the group.

That brings me to my next question. What kind of venues do you want to perform at? Bars and coffee shops? concert halls? on the street corner? All of these are great venues and, outside of the concert hall, are pretty cheap to rent out. Some will pay you to perform, Some will need you to rent the space. Some will require you to give them some of the earnings from tickets. Just talk to the manager at various restaurants, bars, and coffee shops and see what you can find out, they’re usually enthusiastic about it if they have the space. Those are the best places when starting out. Concert halls are great as well but they can cost anywhere from $300-1500 depending on the size and popularity, but they’ll also almost always have sound equipment you can use and a live sound engineer for mixing and such.

One of the other biggest things you’ll want to plan on is music. You will want to have a few pieces already thought up before getting into it. I think it is probably best to plan out at least 30 minutes worth of a show before starting the group. That way you’ll know exactly what genre you are doing and be able to explain that to the other members that you invite to join you. If you aren’t super sure on what you want or what you want it sound like then at least have an idea of what you want help putting together so you can all create it yourself.

I highly encourage creating your own group so that you can share your creativity with others. You’ll find yourself learning so much and growing so much as a person when you work on music with others. Definitely try as many different musical things as you can to see what you like the best. Try being in choir, a musical, a band, get some guitars and jam with some friends and you’ll be surprised the ideas and creations that you will make.