First Recording in Studio

Weekly Teaching Tip – June 23, 2014
by Dominika Plonka

One of the important abilities of the professional singer is knowing how
to record his/her voice in studio.
We often forget that for a young person this it a totally new situation.
That’s why I encourage my teenage students to record a small one-song
demo in a recording studio.

So – what happens in studio?

1) The most stressful situation ever for a “greenhorn” is to hear his own
voice registered. Fortunately nowadays young people have many
possibilies to record their voice, so they should be prepared to this

2) In the recorded track you can hear every single false note, every
single inaccuracy.
So to be able to record a song we have to prepare our students very
precisely. They have to know what to do in every moment of the song.
Of course I do the recording only with the students that are
good enough to record a song during 1 or 2 hours session.
Usually I recommend to record a song that a student sang during a
festival, that he/she become a winner of.

3) They have to get used to hear their own voice in the headphones.
The important thing is that they have to know how much of the
bacground (music) they should hear.
One of my students asked for too much of her own voice in the
headphones. Eventually she didn’t sing with enough energy (she could
hear herself very good so she sang too quietly) and also… she was
out of rhythm!
When we checked the level in her headphones, and the sound engineer
gave her some more of the background, she sang much better.
The point is that a singer have to consider himself as a part of the
band, a part of the music. So the levels in headphones are really

4) As we know, Singing the “P” to any microphone is difficult, both – on
stage and in studio.
We can use antypop in the studio, of course.
But it’s good to teach your student to sing “P” as “M”, not to blow too
much air with this character.
Some of the details depends on language. When you sing in polish
– the studio has to use dehisser (for the hissing consonants) which is
unknown by english-language singers…

5) The singer should bring lyrics of the song: all the form written,
with all the repetitions.
One sheet is to give to the sound engineer, and second one – for the
singer, to be able to have a look while recording.
It serves to be sure about the form of the song, what part
they are recording (e.g. which refrain), and of course – the singer in
a stressful situation could forget some words during singing.

6) Recording a song with a proper feeling, a good atmosphere is not easy.
To interprete the song, to think about the climat, singer has to concentrate.
Your student has to feel good in the studio. Tell him to wear very
comfortable clothes.
And of course you have to find a “comfortable” date. Your student have
to sleep well before recording, not to come from an exam in school…

7) Possibly the professional studio microphone will hear even more than
an ear of a teacher during lesson.
You can discover many details to work with your student.
I am a lucky one, because in my centre of culture there is a small
studio. Our sound engineer is a professional musician, very
experienced in different styles of modern music.
He also gives great advices to my young singers, as well in technical
details in singing (e.g. vibrato) and also in being a musician while
That’s good if you can recommend a good studio and a good sound
engineer to your student and – to go with him.

8) Finally, it’s good to choose 2 dates. First recording is a one hour
meeting, a trial recording, the student gets used to the new
conditions. Second one is a normal session.

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