Making a great recording of your students' vocals

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Getting it right

You do not need to be a technical 'whizz kid' to make a reasonable recording of your students' vocal efforts with 'Lighting Up The Flame. If you follow the guidelines in our instructions document you will find it is actually quite simple. We strongly suggest that you download the instructions and keep them close by throughout your work with the project. Click here to download the instruction documents now.

Vocals only
The most important part of recording your students vocals is that you ONLY RECORD THE VOCALS i.e. we do not want a recording of the vocals with the backing tracking playing as well. It is actually impossible for us to use recordings that include the backing track - it simply makes for a very 'muddy' sound on the final mix. This is why you see so many of the photos of students on our website wearing earphones. The idea is of course to listen to the relevant MP3 choir track on earphones and sing along with this while recording.

Sound leakage
One of the enemies of any studio sound engineer. Sound leakage often comes from some types of earphones - it is the sound of the music you are listening to leaking through onto the recording. You have probably experienced this - sitting next to someone who is listening to their favourite music on earphones and because the sound is turned up are also subjected to listening to their music. So how to we prevent this leakage onto your precious recording. Basicallly, you may not be able to eliminate this completely but the lower the volume on the earphones the less the leakage will be. It can also be reduced or even eliminated by ensuring that your singers move back from the microphone. For most recordings - standing about a metre from the microphone is a good distance. There is one certain way of eliminating leakage and that is by using very expensive earphones that you will often see used in professional recording studios. However, by following the suggestions above you will be able to provide recordings that have minimal sound leakage in evidence. 

This is the second and probably main enemy of sound recording work. It is caused of course when the recording level is too high and in the age of digital recording it can give a very unpleasant sound on the peak areas of the sound recorded commonly known as 'clipping'. The cure is obvious - reduce the recording level on the equipment OR stand further back from the microphone. It is better for us to receive recordings that are lower volume to be on the safe side - we can easily increase the sound level but as you can guess there is no way to undo the distortion on a recording received and usually we cannot use these.

The IPOD effect
You have probably smiled about someone sometime who has been singing away enthusiastically to something they are listening to on their earphones oblivious to the fact that they are singing extra loudly and providing an accidental audience with a cabaret show. The same thing might happen in your recording sessions when students are singing with earphones on for the first time. It can result in students suddenly forgetting all of the great singing lessons you have given them and half shouting the vocals - not great! The other problem is that most people find it hard to sing in tune when they cannot hear their own voice. The cure for this is to show your students that they can slip one of their earphones off slightly so that they can then hear their own voice

More resources - here's a very good piece of technical advice worth checking before you record

To inspire your singers before a recording session, the 1985 recording session of We Are The World is worth looking at