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Vocal Stamina and Voice Prep for Recording

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I havent' seen alot of postings for this topic, but I wanted to offer some advice on these subjects. We are all at various stages of progress. Some of us are just beginning, and some are thinking about scrounging money for equipment or studio time. Either way, we all want to record ourselves. I have had recording equipment at home for quite some time now. Of course, the capabilities and quality has increased over time. But prepping oneself for recording is the same regardless of the quality of your equipment. I have been recording myself for many years. Thankfully, I no longer suffer from what I call 'Recording Syndrome'. It is a term to describe the sense of nerves and anxiety that accompany a recording session. For example: you think to yourself, I am recording now, so I cannot make any mistakes. So, of course during the first take, you make every mistake known to man. And then some. I had a drummer friend awhile back who is a huge Metallica fan. We use to jam alot. We wanted to do a simple cover of 'Enter Sandman'. A song he and I had played many times for fun. As soon as I put the headphones on him and hit the record button, he couldn't play it correctly if his life depended on it. One thing we don't realize is that when we "practice", we make many mistakes that we ignore, we move on without stopping. Why do we do this? It is part of gigging and playing live. We learn to ignore mistakes and keep going. After all, it would not make for a good performance to keep stopping in mid song and starting over. However, in the studio, all mistakes stick out like sore thumbs. Best think to remember is this. In the old days, you had a rewind button. Today, right click and delete, or punch in. Another take can always be made. Now if you don't have your own studio, and have to pay someone else for time to record, there are some things to keep in mind. 1. The studio is not a practice hall. You are paying by the hour. Practice before going to the studio. 2. Do prep work before getting there. New strings on guitars, heads on drums, etc. again, you are paying by the hour.

Vocal Stamina: I have noticed that in alot of people's singing, there is not much stamina, i.e., holding the note a little longer, the need to breathe superceding the need to hold the note. In my opinion, sometimes holding the note a bit longer adds more fluidity and texture to the note. How many times have we listened to someone sing and it seems like you can hear them taking a breath every 2 to 3 words. Taking deep breaths before beginning a phrase and controlling it will make for much more congruent takes. You want to make it last. Using the techniques that Robert Lunte uses with proper breath control can work wonders. And since most recording studios are able to multi track, you can record different parts separately. Too many times we try to hurry to the next phrase, and don't always realize we cut the last note short. With deeper breaths, we can hold out longer, maybe sing one or two phrases before breathing. Much like holding your breath when swimming, except in this case you let it out slowly whilst vocalizing. It takes a bit of work to master, but you will be amazed at how much more fluid your singing is.

Voice prep for studio: Basically, drinking anything warm helps alot. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, hot apple cider. All of it helps to loosen and warm up the vocal chords. Even in breaks between takes. For instance, one of my own original songs, the last chorus is sung twice and it is a very long chorus. Then of course the harmony track, again twice. Last phrase of the song, I sing a minor third above the highest note in the harmony track. Impossible for me to hit if I try it right after recording another track. At that point, my voice is fatigued and needs to rest. So I sit back for 1/2 hour, drink more tea then give it another go. And nail it.

And as a side note. There are those who are of the belief that no matter you do: sing, play guitar, piano, etc., that technique does not matter. What matters is what you feel, express those emotions and people will love you. I disagree with this sentiment. In my opinion, without proper technique, no amount of emotion will make you sound good. Just like anything else in life, they are building blocks. After all, you cannot write a bestselling novel if you cannot read or write words. Cannot be a news anchor with out the ability to talk. Cannot play a guitar solo without a guitar. Technique is what helps you deilver that emotion successfully and flawlessly. After all, does the emotion of a song really make you cry if the singer is off pitch and tone deaf? Anyway, I hope there are those who find this helpful in preparations. Having experienced many of these issues in my own experience, I imagine there are a few who probably need a few pointers in studio prep.

Regards to everyone,

S.L. Stone


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