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Hone Your Singing Skills with Home Recording

Home recording can be relatively inexpensive assuming you already have a computer – says Mary Carewe.

Besides her illustrious career as a classical soloist and session singer, Mary now hosts masterclasses in vocal recording techniques.

She explains the basics of home recording, and the pros of being your own producer. 

A great place to start experimenting

I would suggest you do a bit of research to find the best options to do what you want to, whether that’s just recording your vocals or creating music tracks of your own.

There is a lot of software out there for home recording but you will also need a mic and an audio interface at the minimum. Then, you will need to play around with what you have and practise quite a bit in order to make your recordings sound ok.

While home recording is accessible for everyone it’s not as easy as ‘just doing it’. It takes some skill to end up with something that will sell your voice to a potential employer or producer!

I would see basic home recording as a way to learn more about your craft, discover how to make different tones, sing in different styles, learn about mic techniques and how to make a track sound really polished.

Then, perhaps, when you can afford to go into a professional studio to record demos you will be better able to produce something that really represents you.

Of course, if you are writing your own material then getting really familiar with computer software and the whole recording process is something you should try and do as soon as you can afford to invest in the basics.

Feel comfortable and make mistakes

At home you can relax and try – and try again – to do the things you want. You can experiment and makes loads of mistakes – making your own mistakes are the best way to learn! All that isn’t possible in a professional studio where time and money are a big concern.

However, when you are in a professional environment and especially if you are working with a good engineer/producer you will learn invaluable lessons – just you don’t want to be wasting your own money or anyone else’s on basic errors!

If you feel anxious or under pressure you are less likely to perform your very best.

Learn to have an objective ear

It’s easy to get very excited when you are playing with a new toy and sometimes you don’t realise that what you have produced is rather chaotic and confusing for a listener.

You will sound more polished if you keep it simple.

So, take time to step away from a project and return to it with a bit of distance – and if you play it to a friend that you trust and they make criticisms, don’t take it personally!

My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Amanda Tovalin Amanda Tovalin - Cronica

Your voice has a wonderful warm quality and the ‘airiness’ around the sound is very attractive. I love the idea of using the violin and loop pedals but it is maybe a bit of a challenge from a tuning point of view – it was hard to be sure where the centre of the pitch for the song was. As it progressed this became more of an issue for me. Despite liking the sound of your voice I wasn’t convinced about the tuning because of the way the track built up and this was more marked as the vocal lines were layered. I am sure that this concept is something you can develop (please do!) – really concentrate on making sure the violin loops have great tone and pitch and then the song will sound more grounded and show off your lovely voice.

Mary has long been established as one of the UK’s most in demand and versatile vocalists. Her experience includes work as an international concert soloist as well as a highly regarded session singer. Her vocals feature on the classical chart-topping ADIEMUS recordings and she is sampled on the Aphex Twin track XTAL. She has sung BVs for artists including Steps, Westlife, Pulp and Joe Cocker, on numerous Hollywood film soundtracks such as Dr Strange, The Hobbit, Pirates Of The Caribbean and Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, TV shows like Pop Idol, Stars In Their Eyes, French And Saunders and Benidorm, and many TV and radio jingles most notably ‘Autoglass’ for which she apologises! As a soloist, Mary has recorded film music, theatre songs and classic pop repertoire for releases by EMI, Universal and Readers Digest and she performs around the world with orchestras in iconic venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. www.marycarewe.com