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can't get over nerves when recording

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Carol M
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This is driving me crazy! I've been singing for years but a couple years ago started changing my style from all-chest belting to mixed voice. I took lessons and worked pretty hard on transitioning between registers...and I did a lot of home recording to see how it was going. (I've posted a couple things here but it's been awhile.)

But I still cannot get my recording voice up to where it is when I'm just messing around. I can be singing in the car or while working out or whatever and think wow, it's really coming along. Only to freeze up as soon as the recorder is going.

What is up with that? Anyone else have that problem? Does it just take lots more recording or what? I have to limit myself or I rag my voice for weekend band work and lose a bit of range.

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Lol CHERISH those moments when you hear yourself sound like shit. When I re-play a recording the more it sucks the more I can IMPROVE the next one. Don't discourage yourself! It's not the amount of recordings that matter, listen to yourself over and over and FEEL what you have to change. It's something you have to work on yourself. How am I supposed to know what you want to sound like?

Believe in yourself... and NAIL that next recording ;)

- JayMC

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I agree. Many times I record a song only because I start consistently nailing it while practicing at home or in the car or where ever....maybe even karaoke! But hit that record button and suddenly I'm in another dimension. I forget lyrics, I flip words and say the backwards. Yes, that has happened more than once. I once said instead of "Gee it's good to be back here walking with you my friend" Gee it's back again here walking with you" or something like that. :D

Most times even if I bang out the song and think I did well, once I listen back I end up scrapping it. I rarely like it. I have about 40 songs in my list and I "kind of" like only one!! I hesitate to post every time and cringe when I listen back coming close to deleting the post. I think this is normal. :)

Well, I use the word normal loosely :D

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I agree. Many times I record a song only because I start consistently nailing it while practicing at home or in the car or where ever....maybe even karaoke! But hit that record button and suddenly I'm in another dimension. I forget lyrics, I flip words and say the backwards. Yes, that has happened more than once. I once said instead of "Gee it's good to be back here walking with you my friend" Gee it's back again here walking with you" or something like that. :D

Most times even if I bang out the song and think I did well, once I listen back I end up scrapping it. I rarely like it. I have about 40 songs in my list and I "kind of" like only one!! I hesitate to post every time and cringe when I listen back coming close to deleting the post. I think this is normal. :)

Well, I use the word normal loosely :D

well I actually lose control of my voice in the passagio area..my support goes all whacky or something. My voice cracks or I go flat. I usually just keep going but geez.

Singing in the car rules! I don't know what it is but the sound bouncing back off the windshield and dash seems to be just right.

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There are alot of things that can be happening.

#1 is headphones vs. small space resonance. It's just like monitoring live, you respond to what you're hearing back and if it's not what you expect you might not respond the same. Getting a good headphone mix makes a big difference.

#2 live sound is very forgiving. little bitty inaccuracies don't come into your attention as easily. Recording is indeed a different level of scrutiny

#3 the flow of a song. In your car you can just come in where you want, you don't have to nail the cues. the lack of pressure makes it easier to relax and just do your thing.

So some suggestions.

#1 - try to make what you're hearing work for you. You might have to experiment. It may be more of your voice in the headphones or less than you expect.

#2 & #3 - you get as many takes as you want in your home studio. Do scratch takes where you assume it's not going to count. Keep those takes if you can. Often you can cut and paste good phrases, etc. But sometimes those scratch takes end up being great, and sometimes they just get the jitters off.

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Good advice above...I actually do like the way I'm sounding now, it's just hitting certain notes. I'm heartened by the overall sound, which is good because I've been working hard these last two years.

But it's uncanny, how I can hit a soft high note in TA-dominant mixed voice, just singing along for fun, and then muff the note while recording. I do think it's a balance-in-my-head problem that causes me to push when I don't need to. Today I tried just using 2 earplugs and listening to myself strictly in my head. That helped.

I do need to record more but my setup is very basic and not ergonomic.

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Carol, I, too, get "red-light" syndrome. I've always considered myself a "live" singer, better in person than recorded. Live, I have no stress. Everyone makes mistakes and you can float a mistake into something better and the little flubs, even if noticed, float away into oblivion.

As opposed to recording, where it is preserved for all time.

Especially in this forum, where a mistake on one take is assumed to be a recurring problem for you. And then, comes the critique that if you really cared about recording and presenting your best, you would not post until it is absolutely perfect. Which creates more stress.

We even have a few threads on the importance of having the peformance solid, before you record. Because you rarely can fix a problem in recording. Whereas, outstanding performances are appreciated, regardless of equip and recording strategies. And I have learned to adopt the latter. So, when I record, my aim is to make the recording as good as possible. For me, that means nailing the song on the first take. I stink and get stinkier on take after take after take. Because of the one mistake, I try the song again, fretting about that mistake and end up focusing on the patch, which means I am not focusing on where I am. And then make another mistake.

The advantage of recording digitally is that it is easier to edit rough spots. Saying that and doing that, for me, is two different things. I still have to get the performance right on the first take because I always expect myself to be able to do that song live, where there are no "do-overs" and edits.

So, now, my work for a recording is not in recording several different takes. Now, the work is in the performance. For I am training myself to forget all about "record" after I click on it. That's not as easy as it sounds.

I think part of my one-take thing is because previously, I was recording on an analog 4-track that uses cassettes. There is no cutting tape and I only had four tracks. I couldn't use up the others with patches. And bouncing down to one track introduced too much degeneration of initial levels. For me, recording to tape was very much like a "live" experience.

Whatever you do, it's a matter of working on your strengths and finding away to relax while recording. Tension is a voice-killer (I mean the tension of worrying that makes you "take your eye off the ball.")

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If you use ear phones try one ear piece while recording. Record what you know will be a scratch track. Record with the purpose of expierimenting with the vocals.

I recorded a song using what I knew was distortion over kill. Then I sang the song the way I normally sing. It came out way better than I expected. Just suggestions. Get in front of the recorder expecting to play not work.

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I often wonder if good headphones make a difference. I use a cheap $5 set of headphones my wife used to use for an online college course. The kind that are a headphone and mic all in one. They don't adjust or fit over your head. They have the ear pieces (about 1-1/2 in in diameter) that barely fit over my ear, and a non adjustable part that just goes behind your head. they are very loose and always fall off. :D Basically I am hearing my voice mostly not through the headphones. I can hear my voice just regular louder than in the headphones. I pretty much use them to hear thew music.

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it's funny because I know people who can't talk on their cell phones for very long because their voice will start to tense up. It's something they do unconsciously, but I'm guessing they'll relaxed her voice than they probably feel the need to talk with a little more prep in their voice. I've experienced this one I try to do a radio voice. It helps when I just relax, but it's easier said than done. Good luck

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I think when people record they worry so much about perfection that it

gets in the way.

For example, for even the most minor mistakes they stop recording and then

start over (which kills all the emotion you just built up).

My suggestion is to loop the song a number of times and continuously

record it (i.e. go through the whole song a few times in a row without stopping).

By the time, you're sing on the 3rd or 4th time, you'll have sung the same song

so many times that you're not so picky about every single note.

When you're done, listen to all the takes and pick out the best/worst parts from each recording.

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