Every music teacher in the world has tried to teach their students to practice efficiently. “Don’t just pull out your horn and play with no plan.” The rehearsal or recording session is no different. An extra hour during the planning will save many more later on.
Some considerations –
- Extra Hands – For all but the most mundane sessions, an assistant is a great investment. Make it their responsibility to manage the schedule and anticipate problems.
- Difficulty – Play something simple first. The musicians need time to get comfortable with the sound of the room. Get your most difficult music done next. This is when you’ll have the best focus from the players.
- Managing Tacets – The fastest way to annoy your musicians is to make them wait for tunes they are not playing to be completed. Use the largest size ensemble first, and gradually winnow down the number of musicians.
- Woodwind Doubling – If you require instrument changes group them together whenever possible. The players and instruments have to re-warm up every time.
- Stay on the Clock – Keep a pessimistic recording schedule. Some things will take longer than expected. The musicians in the room will get anxious when you’re behind schedule.
- Breaks – A ten minute break every hour is standard practice in union recordings. The focus required to play well in a recording atmosphere is very high. Frequent short breaks will prevent lapses of concentration. This applies to rehearsals as well.
- Know What You Want – Working in a home studio is the time to move slowly and spend time agonizing over the details, not when a group of musicians is staring at you. Constantly asking the musicians to make changes undermines their confidence and natural instincts, leading to a less “musical” performance.
- Music Preparation – It’s not an exaggeration to say that properly prepared sheet music can cut recording time in half (or more). If your music is unclear the musicians will spend at least the first 2 takes determining details that should have been decided in advance. Finishing in 2-3 takes yields much better results than 4-6.
Now you’re ready. Go get some music played.