Recording your choir – Part 2: The recording session

In my previous article, I looked at the various considerations you might have when you’re planning a recording session for your choir. In this article, I want to discuss the recording session itself.

Here are some key points to consider:

Timings

Think about how everything will work on the day. If a sound engineer is visiting you, how much set up time will be required so that everything is ready before your singers arrive? Check this with your engineer and make sure you adjust the hire times for your venue accordingly. When giving timings to your choir,allow some time for everyone to arrive, for a warm-up at the beginning and some comfort breaks during the session.

Uniform

Although you won’t have an audience for the recording, it’s the perfect opportunity for some photos, which you may even want to use for your CD or download artwork. If your choir usually wears a uniform for performance, ask them to wear it for the recording. Wearing uniform will also help them to feel a sense of team spirit.

Luggage and noise

When you’re recording, every tiny sound matters. If people have an array of bags, coats and other items around them, this is bound to cause some unwanted noise. Consider a safe area where people can leave luggage so that all they have with them in the recording room is a bottle of water. If your luggage area isn’t secure, consider asking everyone to put their belongings at the edge of the room.

Also, remind singers to turn off mobile phones. A phone ringing in the middle of a perfect take would be most unwelcome and very embarrassing for the individual involved! Check your phone is also switched off as that would be even more embarrassing!

Make sure you tell the choir that they need to stay quiet before and after singing. When they finish a take, they need to be absolutely silent until the engineer gives a signal.

Positions

Discuss how the choir formation should work with your sound engineer. They will probably ask for the choir in their sections. Depending on the size of your choir, you might want to consider giving everyone a specific place. That way you can be sure that your confident, well-prepared singers are being picked up well in the mics. By creating a seating plan, you avoid having to move people around later. It’s also no bad thing if people aren’t sitting next to their friends – that way they won’t be tempted to chat!

Confidence

Although they’ll be super-excited, your singers may find that they feel a little daunted and worried about making mistakes. Reassure them and spend a few minutes warming up to relax everyone and get voices ready for singing. Something in the warm-up that makes them giggle is ideal.

The order of repertoire can be discussed with your engineer but it can work well to get everything sung through at least once before you go back and re-record sections. That way you have covered everything when the choir is fresh and they can get initial nerves out of the way. You can then go back and re-visit each piece covering areas which may need re-recording.┬áMake sure that you allocate sufficient time to each piece or song so that you don’t end up having to rush through the final item.

Comments on Recording your choir – Part 2: The recording session

  1. Avatar Naomi Rankin says:

    One helpful tip you left out – a carefully measured shot of vodka for any soloists just before they record. We did this on our second recording, and got much better intonation than we did on the first, where you can hear the fear in the voice and we went awfully flat.

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Nice idea Naomi :-)

  2. Avatar kate says:

    Thanks Christine! This is really helpful for our group as we will be recording a CD next year.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Kate, perfect timing. Good luck with your Cd.

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