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How to Prep a Musician?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by nathansmind, May 21, 2010.

  1. nathansmind

    nathansmind Active Member

    I work with a lot of Musicians that have never recorded before. Some of them get to the studio and look at us like a dear in the headlights. Usually I try to give them a few things they should do before the session to be prepared. I was wondering what other people who record first timers do to prep the musician. Do you sent them an email with tips? If so, what are those tips? Are there any good websites I can direct them to?


  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I like to prep musicians by dipping in buttermilk and rolling in seasoned flour.

    It depends of course on what you are doing single track session recording or entire band open session?

    Tell them to practice in headphones? Practice to click tracks so they know the BPM they are looking for? New set up on their guitars, new strings a few days before, new drum heads. Know your material, know your arrangements. Are you recording the vocals later? Then have some cues or something to know your changes? Explain the process well most newbies think they are going to come in and cut eight songs in 4 hrs, after all the songs are only six minutes. Tell them to come sober/straight. Once there keep them relaxed. Tell them you just want to run thru the song without recording it sorta practice, but record it anyway. Tell them not to stop at the least mistake (thats what punch ins are for) I could go on but I'm sure others will have ideas as well.
  3. Laurend

    Laurend Active Member

    No tips. Be cool and make them confortable. Then, you will get the best out. But first, don't stress ;-)
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I always stress that the band needs to... P R A C T I C E !! Tell them to be sure that the guitars have been recently strung and intonated. Both "tightness" of the band and "pitchiness" of the guitars will be more apparent in the recording process.
    I also stress that the drummer have decent heads on the kit and that the kit is as squeak-/rattle- free as possible. Then I remind them to bring in reliable cables (with at least 1 spare!). Trust me, I have plenty of good cables, but they tend to "disappear" when bands with crummy cables show up...:)
    I also limit the size of their entourage to 1 guest per band member. This helps to keep the "distraction factor" to a minimum...
  5. mrmelody

    mrmelody Active Member

    Practice, practice, practice! Have the songs and arrangements down exactly as they will be recorded. Unless you are helping with arrangements, nathansmind, then you might sit in their practices and give advice ahead of time to help save time when recording.
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    This is where the producer used to come in. He'd go to the practice and make sure they are playing up to snuff. Work out the details in the songs. Iron out those weak spots and just generally help them get it together. After all that is done, then it's time to talk about the studio.
  7. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Last week I had a cover band over in the studio for Demo recordings. Two of them have been here before and I beseeched them to practice and talk to each other about what to play and how and when... Told them all about drum heads, tuning, strings, tubes, etc., what a Tonmeister can say to that topic. Sure thing, they said. I released them with some good words about wanting to use the studio time rather to make the overall performance and mix better then spending hours on editing and fixing their work to get just something usable.
    Guess what? On day X, all they seem to know was what songs they were going to play...
    If they ever spent a moment practicing it was on having a drink of beer...
    They just don't get the difference between "praticing" and playing the songs on stage, were everybody keeps making the same mistakes with no real chance to listen to each others playing. I hate it!! This time I will truly count all the fixing time, too, and I'll have one of them sitting near all the time, as well. It's gonna cost them.. aarrgghhhh! Those need a Nanny who does their homework with them...
    Producing whilst recording can be good fun, but when you find yourself in a Kindergarden it becomes kind of annoying.
    Rant mode off...
  8. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Again, I think this is where there really needs to be a "producer" an outside listener that can help the band hone their craft. Or, at the very least a band leader who can take control and say, "We screwed up. Let's start from the top.". The problem is that most kids don't like being told what to do. Advice is rarely taken in the manner in which it was given. Usually ends up in someone taking offense.

    Granted there are some bands who really know what they are striving for but then there are the rest of them who are just so caught up in their egos that they won't listen to reason.

    I have to stop. I feel my blood pressure rising.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Tonmeister groovy
  10. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    That's me...yes... lol..
    over-payed, over-critical, over-***ed, over-...weighted ... you name it...

    Over all those years I have rarely encountered musicians of any age who did not at least consider what I was suggesting to them.
    This happend mostly with older sods who weren't flexible enough, anymore. All egos shrink to normal when they step inside my premises.
    Being kind and understanding is important! Then even the greatest egomaniacs are just putty in your hands if they trust you.
    When working, nobody is more important then the other. If you play a few instruments it will help to give them the occasional hint or
    advice, 'cause you know what can be done how on this instrument. All of them had a different understanding of their music after they
    went through the CD recording work and were much better on stage, too, after that.

    WOW, it dots the word *** and ***** and ******* and *************** and *********.
    How unwordly is that? I like that!! You can say **** and even *******and nobody knows that you are using absolutley non abusive language.
    Those are just common words which one can't use anymore...
    I could not have the nikname "Riddick" in a PC-Game once, because it includes the word dick, which is, btw, also a name.
    If Richard the Lionheart had decided to be called Dick he had vanished from the historic landscape???
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    That's a lovely new avatar of you hueseph. It's beautifully calming & authoritative looking at the same time. Nice.
  12. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    You are too kind Remy.
  13. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    Yeah, but your old avatar shouted "I am am hueseph and the party can now start!"
  14. natural

    natural Active Member

    The only advise I can give to a complete novice is:

    A carelessly planned project will take 3 times longer to complete than expected,
    Where as a carefully planned project will only take twice as long.

    Ok- I would also suggest that they start off just doing one song. They'll learn a lot from that session, and then you can start giving them tips.
    Some people amazingly seem to adapt very well. Others get hung up on headphones, still, others can get sidetracked by the color of the carpet. (no, really, I've seen it happen... Really.)
    You hold their hand and guide them through the session with patience and keep a good vibe no matter what.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Really? I was going for "If you use warez, I'm going to impale you!".
  16. DJFlexx

    DJFlexx Active Member

    lol Big K haha!!
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Over the years I have had some that listened and some that didnt. Those that did, generally went on to record better and better records throughout their careers and those that didnt either gave it up soon after or havent done much more than continually starting over.

    While its nice to be encouraging and helpful, I come from the skool of hard-knocks and generally 'tell-it-like-it-is'.....if that doesnt stop the process at the get-go, then more than likely, you are a candidate for the Davedog skool of recording arts.

    Those that learned these things learned them well.

    I used to send home a rider for what they needed to do in order to step foot into the room they would be paying to use......it is, after all, skool of hard knocks.....

    Things like fixing any squeaks or broken speakers or guitars that werent intonated or keyboards with faulty programs or bad individual cables or noisy guitars or poorly strug basses that didnt stay in tune for one track at a time etc etc etc etc etc etc....you get the picture.

    Those that didnt paid the base fee up front no refunds and generally didnt get anything recorded at all......Those that did were rewarded with my best efforts which generally translated to their best efforts which usually translated to a fine demo or even a record quality session.

    In this business you get what you pay for when you put in the effort.

    My last record , the guys ALL had their parts down to a tee, could improve off of any arrangement they brought and record is killer.

  18. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I'm looking at putting together a "rider" of sorts like you described Dave:
    Basically, a "what is expected of you / what you need to do", included w/ a section that lets the artist/band tell me what they expect of me.
    Things like "I want to sound like", "The ___ is the most important element of this song", and even considering having them provide lyric sheets / arrangements for me to reference.
    It's all in the homework you do ahead of time, so the recording session is just that and nothing more.

    Would you mind posting said "rider" for reference?
  19. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Hi, ..
    Let's make this a little collection/library of ideas and advice right here in the forum.
    That would be helpful for all levels of producers, musicians, engineers and studio workers.
    Since there are hardly any "secrets", anybody could throw in a few points found important to observe...

    We can splitt and combine the ( for us ) important points, ourselves:
    music recording (band demo/CD), mastering preparations, post production, equipment treatment before studio work...etc.

    Let's start with something obvious:
    - No live gigs at least 2 days before day x
    - check drumset for squeaking or loose parts
    - don't use old drumheads, don't come in with brand new ones, either
    - know how to tune your drums and actually tune them!
    - restring your Bass/Guitars, play them for a few hours a day or two prior to recording
    - bring in ALL lyrics in 4 copies and in large font, 1.5 spaces between lines

    - have your CD print work layout ready before end of recording
    (it will then hopefully be there by the time you send the pre-master to the cd-plant if you are lucky ;-)

    Keep it comming... chaps...

    Big K

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