An Easy Way to Get Better Between Rehearsals
|By Ben BlakesleyGeorges Music
Man, that practice was awesome! Great strides were made on your band's journey to excellence, fame, and fortune. Some great song ideas were tossed around and jammed on, certain to be a #1 hit very soon...But then, you head back to your daily routine until next week when the band gets back together.You're all stoked for your next practice! Everyone picks up their instrument to dive back into that excellent groove from last time, but Denny the bass player remembers the rhythm being completely different than Steve the drummer does. Todd the keyboard player declares, "No, it was like this" and proceeds to play the most godawful thing you've ever heard.Another great idea gone. Another #1 hit lost to the ages.Stand for this no more!
Here's a simple tool that's super easy to use that will avoid these devastating situations: Record Your Rehearsal
This is really no big secret. Bands have been doing it for ages. There are many reasons why a band would want to record their rehearsals, even beyond the aforementioned example.You may have wondered why you read about the biggest bands in the world 'demoing' songs by recording them in their private studios before going into a big studio to make their record. The reason is that when you're in the moment and playing music you don't offer a very objective perspective on the song
.That's why recording rehearsals to give yourself that audience perspective is so important. Think of it like a football player watching game film. By studying what you did wrong and what you did right within the song, you can make your part and the entire song that much better the next time you play it.For that reason, I record all of my band's rehearsals and
performances. After the rehearsal/gig, I load the recording into my iPod or burn it on a CD and listen to it in the car taking mental notes of what worked and what needs improvement. Then at the next rehearsal, I implement those changes.I can guarantee if you and your bandmates do that, you'll see vast improvements in your playing and your performance.
Now that you understand the importance of a good archival recording of your band, how do you do it?Lucky for you, there has never been an easier or less expensive time to do this!
I'll discuss 3 different methods for going about this depending on what you want to get out of the recording.
One of the easiest ways is to simply use a single microphone in the center of the room to capture everything that's happening in the room.I recommend that you use a large diaphragm condenser microphone for this, in Cardiod pattern (the most[caption id="" align="alignright" width="77" caption="CAD U37 Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic w/USB"]
[/caption]common) and place the mic in front of your band as you all play in a semi-circle around the mic.But wait, it gets better. Spend under a c-note on a large diaphragm condenser microphone with USB capabilities and you can simply record directly to your computer or laptop with NO ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT. Awesome, huh?Then you can easily transfer your file to your iPod or burn it to a CD for each member to take with them and study.
#2 Portable Digital Recorder - Cost $99 - $299
But say you want to make things even easier with NO CABLES needed and NO COMPUTER NEEDED in the room. Let's also pretend that you can increase the fidelity and the realism of the recording at the same time.Impossible? NO!I'm talking about Portable Digital Recorders
.These things are THE COOLEST thing to come out in the last few years. There are many models to choose from at different price points and with different feature sets, but they all have the[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="195" caption="Zoom H1 Handy Recorder"]
[/caption]basics pretty much the same. Each will have 2 built-in condenser[caption id="" align="alignright" width="130" caption="Zoom Q3 Video Recorder"]
[/caption]microphones attached to the top to provide you with an excellent stereo recording that is only limited by the size of the media card you've got.My favorite products of this type come from Zoom and their most recent offering, the H1
[see picture], gives you single button recording and all the features you'll need to pull off a great recording for under a hundred bucks.Within this category you can even take it up another notch and add video to your recording with the Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder
so that you can post your videos to YouTube and other social media to get outside feedback on your groove!
This is the choice for those of you who might want just a bit more than a 'rehearsal recording.'For instance, you may be working on songs for a new album and there is just a smidgen
of a chance that you won't be able to capture the raw emotion of your rehearsals once you go to the actual recording studio. A multi-track recording of your rehearsal can salvage those parts of the song that are an absolute necessity to the vibe of the song.Or, if you want to be able to solo individual tracks to really hear
what each person is playing so that you can pinpoint problems or relearn parts later.A multi-track recorder can come in many different forms including stand alone digital, computer based, or [gasp!] analog.Stand alone units are great because, like the handy recorders, they don't require any other equipment outside[caption id="" align="alignright" width="384" caption="Zoom R16 Multi-track Recorder"]
[/caption]of cables and microphones. Treat it like a real recording session and mic up each instrument by placing the microphone as close as possible to get the most isolation and give each instrument its own track on the recorder. The number of instruments in your band will determine how many tracks you'll need (and hence how much money it will cost you).Again, Zoom makes a great product for this purpose, the R16
which gives you 8 XLR microphone inputs to capture your whole band to a battery powered stand alone unit. Or step up to the R24
for even more input options. Not to mention, this device also fulfills the computer based recording role as it can act as a USB interface for your computer if you prefer. Stellar!
Now that you know why, how, and how much, there's no excuse not to kick your band into hyper drive by using rehearsal recordings to improve. Go ahead, tell your bandmates it was your idea. I don't mind :-) Just give me a VIP pass to your next show!
Ben Blakesley is in charge of Marketing and Technology at George's Music and has been listening to 'game film' of his rehearsals and gigs ever since his coffee house playing days at the University of New Hampshire.