The best studio singing occurs when you don’t care who’s listening… and that starts with you! – says Mark Baxter
Sooner or later, every singer makes a recording.
Whether it’s in a world-class studio or singing into your laptop, when that red recording light turns on you want to be at your best.
For most of us, though, recording drains our voices of vitality.
It’s frustrating when your beer-soaked, sweaty stage vibe or sudsy shower serenade never sound as good when replicated for posterity.
The True Source of Recording Woes
We like to blame the gear but the real issue lies within.
As soon as the red light comes on we try too hard and become self-conscious.
It is possible to overcome “red light fever,” but you’ve got to address it way before you step up to a large-diaphragm microphone.
Recording is different than singing on stage or in the shower, just like movie acting is different than theater acting.
No one knows or cares if a vocal was recorded in one pass, yet lots of singers feel embarrassed when they require multiple takes.
All that matters is the end result.
Like scenes in movies, the singing on your favorite recordings is really a hi-light reel edited together as a single performance.
It’s not cheating; it takes stamina and a mental focus to maintain vocal continuity for several hours. In other words, chops.
When recording, a producer plays the role of movie director.
Unfortunately, many singers choose to save money by producing themselves and it often backfires.
There is a physical connection when you perform on stage and it’s hard to separate the effort from the outcome.
Without the visual aspect, your singing may not have as much impact as you think.
Take Your Time
If you can’t afford a producer, spread your recording session out over many weeks.
Let some time pass before listening to rough mixes in order to gain a fresh perspective on what you’ve sung.
By far, the best way to champion “red light fever” (and the cheapest) is to never turn it off.
Simply get into the habit of turning on the voice memo app on your phone every time you sing – even when warming up or vocalizing.
Set aside a little time each night to listen to bits of what you recorded.
Keep the good sections and delete the embarrassing stuff.
In time, you will lose the concern that you’re recording.
The best singing occurs when you don’t care who’s listening… and that starts with you!
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Jdee Early – “When Will My Life Begin” from Disney’s “Tangled” (Cover)
Jdee it’s great you chose a song you love. Your inflections really jived with the character of that song. You voice is healthy and balanced and you don’t strain a bit (which is all good) but you would benefit from stepping out of your comfortable home and singing where you have to project more.
Drew Storey – “Real Love” (Cover)
Drew you’re heading in a great direction. You obviously have put more time in on guitar then singing – but that’s okay. You can learn from what you’re doing well on guitar – namely using less tension. Watch your face in this video when you sing the choruses. You facial muscles brace and tense and that absorbs a lot of sound. You’ve learned to use less tension when playing – now apply that same success to singing!
Julie – “Touch the Sky” from the film “Brave” (Cover)
Julie you have a very unique voice! I hear your love of singing and that’s wonderful but I also hear you letting the room dictate your power. In those long held notes at the end you are not allowing your voice to get as powerful as the song requires. I think because you’re singing in your bedroom. The problem is I’m not watching your video in mine! So I’m longing for you to connect with the emotion of the song. I know you have it in you – next video: make sure you are in a space where you’re free to sing out loud.
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson