Tricks to keep the session from derailing.

As a recording engineer for the past seventeen years, I’ve sat in on numerous sessions and I’ve learned more than a few ways to keep the session going. Whether you are an engineer in a recording studio, or recording your band or a friend, sometimes a derail might creep up on you. Here are a few tricks to keep things going.

  • If the musicians are getting frustrated recording a song, switch to another song and come back to it. Alternatively I’ve had bands just run thru a few covers songs (something they know backwards and forwards). This gets the band back a bit of self-confidence. We have all been there, when you start getting frustrated and making mistakes.
  • Take a much needed break! It could be 5 minutes or a half hour, doesn’t matter. Stop talking about the songs, the recording. Change the subject! Play a board game, go for a walk. Most importantly walk away from the studio and the music for a little while. Coming back with fresh ears and some fresh perspective will help.
  • Make sure your equipment is in good working order (this goes for instruments, amplifiers, recording gear). A faulty piece of equipment can derail a session really quick!
  • HOT TIP: Have some back up gear that works just in case. (An extra guitar, drum set, etc)
  • Make a “to do” list. In one column write down every song. Then make a few vertical columns to the right labelled with all the important instruments in the songs. (Bass, rhythm guitar, drums, etc). Start crossing them off as you go, on a song by song basis. This helps to quickly see what still needs to be done, and what has been done.
  • Take notes as you go! It’s extremely helpful to have important things written down that you can refer back to. What microphone was used on what track? Mic technique, amp settings, etc.
  • Have a good plan on what is going to happen during the sessions. Example: Monday drum tracking, Monday evening rhythm guitars & bass. Stick to the plan
  • Don’t over work one musician. Break up recording when recording multiple people. Ex All the bed tracks have been recorded and now you have 5 songs to do vocals and lead guitar on. Alternate between the 2 different musicians. Get the lead person to lay down 2 songs, then jump in and work on vocals for a while. This keeps everyone fresh and less over worked.

Hopefully these will help you to keep things going. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

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