Is there ever a ‘right’ time to record your choir? The chances are the best time to record your choir is now.
There are a number of obstacles which choir leaders and committees tend to have when it comes to thinking about recording their choir.
For many there is still the perception that recording a choir is expensive. Will we have to go to a studio? Don’t recordings costs thousands of pounds?
In some cases this is not entirely inaccurate. I know of choirs who have been fortunate enough to record at Abbey Road Studios and the costs of that will generally run into the tens of thousands. I’m certainly not knocking Abbey Road – if you can afford it then it will be a fantastic recording and a superb day out for your choir. However, the majority of community choirs we work with don’t have that sort of budget.
So at Recordings 4 Choirs we came up with a solution. Our unique business model takes away the huge cost of studio hire. In fact in most cases we don’t charge a session fee. The price per CD is inclusive of the session, post production and travel. You can find out more by looking at our pricing page.
Is the Choir Ready?
This of course is the $64,000 question and one which many choir leaders and committees grapple with for quite some time. Obviously I cannot comment directly on your choir and only the choir leader can really answer the question of whether the choir is ready to record.
I understand of course that any choir leader who is thinking about embarking on a recording wants to make sure the end result does justice to his or her choir. And so we get to the question of is the choir ready? This question does not just apply to amateur choirs but the same is true of professional or semi professional choirs too. To debate whether the choir is ready, we need to think about what might construe ‘being ready to make a recording’.
At the most basic, and perhaps obvious level, you want to make sure your choir can confidently perform the repertoire you are planning to record. It sounds obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised. We have had choirs turn up to recording sessions not really knowing one or more of the songs to be recorded and spending some of the session ‘learning it’. This is far from ideal, and fortunately is not the norm. But nevertheless, there comes a point where you have to say that the choir or the particularly repertoire is good enough to record. For most choirs, this generally won’t be an issue. After all, the majority of choirs tend to put on concerts several times a year and so are spending a lot of rehearsal time preparing for that.
What to record?
Some choirs like to record the repertoire they have recently prepared for a concert, particularly if it is something unusual or different – or perhaps was particularly challenging. Others might wish to record a Christmas CD, or maybe a ‘best of’ album, featuring the choirs favourite songs from the last few years.
Again, there’s not really any right or wrong. But it is perhaps worth considering your market for selling the album. What sort of things do your audience like? What sort of image do you want to portray for your choir?
Whatever you decide to record, my advice would always be not to over complicate it. Yes if you’ve learnt a particularly difficult or new piece, you might wish to include this. But do not run into the trap of trying to make everything complicated and therefore ‘impressive’.
A recording session is hard work. Essentially you are asking your choir to give their best performance over and over again all day – possibly for 2 days. This is a big ask. Yes we can cut and re take and so forth, but be careful of too much of this or it can get quite expensive in post production time and also too much ‘cutting’ from one take to another, even with the best production team in the world, can run the risk of not sounding like a natural performance.
In a lot of cases performing something you know and doing it well, will often lead to a much better CD. It’s not about going for the easy option. But everyone involved wants to create something they can be proud of. It’s always best to avoid the ‘not quite’ track. Perhaps the most important thing when recording is knowing what not to include or when to stop re-taking a song.
That isn’t meant to sound in any way negative. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, some songs don’t quite come together on the day. This happens to all choirs and is particularly prone to happening under the time constraints or ‘stress’ of a recording session.
Checking the Results
To help you manage your recording session we offer play back facility during the recording session. With the best ear in the world, sometimes it’s not always possible to hear absolutely everything as you are recording. This is not just about ‘mistakes’. Sometimes a second hearing particularly with just the music and headphones to focus on gives you a new insight into the performance. Or it might be that you felt something wasn’t quite right and want to check.
By offering play back either in the venue or at our production desk through Studio grade headphones, we can help you to create the best recording of your choir. Whether you are listening for entries to be exactly together or checking for the balance of voice parts, our production desk offers everything you need to ensure we have captured the sound of your choir to the highest possible standards. Not only that, it allows you to listen to all the details of the recording to ensure that everything is exactly how you want it.
There is no such thing as ‘good enough’. All choirs are unique and will have their own blend and their own sound. Similarly there is not really a ‘best time’ to record, unless you want to record specific repertoire. Christmas albums can be easy to sell, albeit during a limited ‘window’. But they make excellent presents and if your choir does a lot at Christmas then it might be a good option for you. But if you have recorded a ‘best of’ or perhaps an Anniversary Album as a lot of choirs do this gives you more scope to sell all year round and raise even more for your choir.
If you would like to find out more about recording your Choir with Recordings 4 Choirs then please get in touch.