How to record for vocal performance

Hello everyone!

It’s been over a year now of teaching music online, and in that time we’ve had many successful student recitals. I’ve had everyone submit their songs to me pre-recorded, so that I can have full control of the livestream. However, recording is a totally different skill to live performance! So, I put together this handy how-to on at-home recording best practices. Even if you only have a smartphone, you can still make an interesting, engaging video.

Taking a good video:

  • Make sure you’re in a well-lit area with a minimum of background clutter, and you’re unlikely to be interrupted.
  • Set your camera up with a tripod or some other static support, and check the settings to ensure it’s set to good quality video.
  • Dress up in your own style! Wear a costume, have some twinkly lights in the background: it’s up to you to add your own personal touch.

Make sure you have good audio:

  • Good audio is much more important than good quality video!
  • Ensure you’ve got minimal background noise: no fans, buzzing electronics, or other outdoor interference (I’ve had many a recording session disrupted by a noisy bird or a weed-whacking neighbor!)
  • If you have a good quality microphone, use it! If not, your phone or laptop mic is fine. You might just have to play around with the settings to make sure it doesn’t peak out. (Check the specs for your devices)
  • If you are playing your backing track out loud, make sure it’s playing on a different device than the one you’re using to film, and make sure it has good speakers.
    • Make sure that your recording device is closer to YOU than it is to the speakers. Otherwise, all we’ll hear is your backing track and not your lovely voice!
    • This also applies if you’re accompanying yourself on guitar or piano: make sure the mic is picking up your voice, and not just the instrument!
  • You can also sing along to a backing track with headphones or earbuds in, so that all we hear in the video is your beautiful singing voice.

Submitting your video

Here’s 3 different ways you can submit your recordings:

  • Send it via Google Drive
  • Send it via Dropbox

  • Upload it as an unlisted youtube video

Things to keep in mind while recording, learned from many years as a recording technician:

  • Perfectionism is the enemy! Don’t fuss too much about the details. Showcase the stuff you’ve been working on these last few months and don’t sweat the small mistakes.
  • Try to record full takes. Unless you make a really big mistake, keep going. You don’t want to exhaust yourself repeating the first half of your song over and over!
  • Remember that what you sound like in a recording isn’t the same as what you hear in your head. Trust the feeling of good singing, even if it doesn’t sound like you thought it would!

Good luck!

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