Going into the studio is very exciting and can be turning points in musicians careers - if they do it right. These days, professionalism is expected in studios, and if you're not prepared, you will be wasting valuable studio time and your record may not turn out to be the best it could. As a vocalist, you are the focal point of the album (most of the time) and you've got to make it a priority to show up prepared for the best performances possible. In today's article, we'll give vocalists of any style a few different ways that they can come in to the studio ready to crush it.
1) Tea with a secret ingredient
As a vocalist, it is pertinent that you keep your throat clear of phlegm while also keeping it open for air to pass through correctly. Start off the morning with water - and lots of it. NO COFFEE! Coffee will dehydrate you and cause your throat to close up. Tea is also a great way to start off the day, but you will need lots of it later on as well.
A major problem in the studio after dozens of vocal takes is your throat clamming and swelling up from exhaustion. One of the best ways to combat this is to drink hot tea with some turmeric in it. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory herb that will open up your throat and prevent vocal cord damage.
2) Voice Memos
There is no better way of determining what you need to work on than recording yourself. You don't need any fancy gear to do this. Most phones come with a voice memo app that will allow enough recording time for you to finish a song and listen back to it. The rawness of the recording will reveal the areas that need work as well as the showcase the best parts as well.
If you want a higher quality recording than just the built-in microphone, check out the iRig Mic by IK Multimedia. It is a handheld condenser microphone made specifically for iPhone and Android recording. Check it out here.
3) No Lyric Sheets
Knowing the songs so well that you don't need lyric sheets is much more crucial than many people realize. It's happened countless times where a band comes in and recording is going great. Then it's the singer's turn and he just finished the lyrics. The rest of the night is the singer reading the lyrics and focusing on the words and not the performance. I personally have gotten to point where I will end sessions and ask the singer to memorize the song and come back a week later.
The magic in a song happens with performance, not by reading a sheet of words. If you go in to the studio knowing the lyrics, melody and harmonies, the magic will happen and your songs will instantly sound better. On top of that, you will save studio time!
Staring down the face of an expensive microphone with the band and the engineer on the other side of the glass can be quite intimidating. All the pressure is on you to make the finishing touches on the tracking process sound awesome. When you are your own instrument, it's easy to tell when nerves kick in and the microphone isn't going to be forgiving. In order to get comfortable behind the glass, practice a few different ways.
First, practice the songs in our car on your way to work until you are very confident with them. Then, ask a member or two of the band if you can practice in front of them and get their feedback. Just singing in front of people will make you more comfortable. What's special about band members is that they will be in the studio with you. This makes them great targets for one-on-one practice.
Another good trick is to practice it like a speech. Set up some pillows with face cutouts or stuffed animals if you have them (or pets if they stick around) and go to town. Getting used to being watched while you sing will ease the nerves in the studio.
We have a book for sale titled 101 Singing Tips by Adam St. James. It is a great guide for singers of all levels that outlines 101 of the tricks that many vocal professionals use in the industry. Here is a small sample:
46 Practice EverywhereIt's easier than you think to get in at least an hour a day of practice, which you should use primarily to get yourself over long-seated, bad habits. Sing in the shower, sing in the car<...>sing on the train or on the bus. You might even earn a little extra cash if you're any good! Sing whenever you're alone, and even when you aren't. 16 After the GigTake a little time to warm-down, the reverse of your pre-performance warm-up<...>Remember to re-hydrate after your performance with plenty of water<...>Then get your body and facial muscles loosened up, and work through your warm-down routine.
There are 99 more tips like this in the book that you can get here. It's great to know this stuff to prevent fatigue and get great tone from the start.
Thanks for checking out our 5 tips to vocal recording prep!
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