I Practice, Practice, Practice

It’s been a while since I wrote a piece about my endeavors in home recording.

I’ve been turning out a new song idea about every two weeks, sometimes a little more frequently.

I’d could turn out more songs but I am limited by the constraints of time and other responsibilities.

I work eight hours a day, five days a week.  I have a family and a house to take care of and I am practicing every day.

Over the past 10 months of exploring, learning and doing home recording I have established my days to work on song writing and recording.

Usually I write on Saturday nights between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM.  That’s when I have a long enough stretch of uninterrupted time to work with all the ideas I have made notes about during the week.

If I am lucky I get the song’s basic tracks and arrangement laid down.

The next and only other block of uninterrupted time is Sunday morning between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM.  I don’t stay up later than 1:00 AM on Saturday night.  If I stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 AM I would have a hard time getting up at 7:00 AM the next morning and lose part of a four hour block of time.

Sunday morning is when I usually do my drum tracks.  No one wants to hear me playing drums after 10:00 PM on a Saturday night, at least no one in my house or my neighborhood.

But on Sunday mornings, until I get the right kit setup, chose the right snare drum, toms and cymbals, prep the program to record the kit, my actual recording time can be limited to as little as one hour.  So I want to get the tracks down as quickly as possible.

Just like a professional studio, time is precious.  It may not cost me anything at home but I only have a limited amount of time to accomplish what I want to do.

And just like going into a professional studio I make sure I do one thing prior to going in, I practice and I prepare.

I usually have the song’s basic tracks and arrangement done by Sunday morning but I don’t try laying down the drum tracks until the following week.  I spend the entire week, every night if possible working on my drum part.  I do it on my electronic kit.  I can hear my parts much better with the electronic kit.

I spend the week refining.  With the electronic kit I can quickly lay down a track and listen to the playback to get an idea of what to keep and what to throw out.  So when the next Sunday morning comes around to record I know what I want to do.  I have a good idea of the sounds I want and know what drums and cymbals to setup.  I know the arrangement and the parts I want to play.

I know what I want to play and how I want it to sound.  Now I can concentrate on getting it right.

It usually takes me one or two takes after I run through it a couple times on the acoustic kit just to make sure it feels right and to check my levels.

The past week it was one take.  I did make one mistake but since I had played the song so many times and understood what I wanted to do even the mistake worked.

So how do I get most of my tracks in one or two takes?  I practice, practice, practice.  I prepare.  And it helps that I am at home with no pressure.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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