Monday, February 7, 2011


Several ideas come to mind at the word.  "I need to get to studio class." "Someday I hope to open my own piano studio."  "I went to the studio today to record."  Such is the life of a piano pedagogy major on HeartSong.  And last Thursday, instead of going to studio class like normal, I went to the recording studio with HeartSong.

Now, I have done some recording before, in my neighbor's basement.  We had an interesting relationship, and for some reason I was never really comfortable in that environment, especially if I hadn't done a lot of practicing of what I wanted to record.  So a few days before we left, I sat down in the practice room and went over what I would play for each song.  In "Better Than," Taylor gave me an idea for a piano part from a song by The Almost, and in rehearsal the week before I was copying it.  I decided it was probably either plagiarism or just plain cheating to use it exactly, though, so as I worked through it I changed most of the notes while keeping the same rhythm (I watched the chords and used color tones like the 7th or 9th in the right hand octaves while playing the straight chord in the left hand, and I made the intervals 3rds instead of 2nds; let the music major understand :).  I knew that if I didn't have a plan of some sort, things would end up not going well in the studio.  I was still nervous that Jim or Heath (our producer) wouldn't like it.

We did "Rise and Sing" first, starting with a scratch track.  When we went back to rerecord our own parts individually, Heath told me I was done because I nailed it the first time.  That was wonderful; it gave me time to work on my paper and I got it mostly finished.  Then we came to "Better Than," and it started a bit rocky.  Because we had just figured out the arrangement the week before, all of us were still unsure where our instruments would fit in the song.  And P.S., recording w/ a Yamaha keyboard is NOT the same as performing with a Steinway piano.  It took a few run-throughs and some adjustments to finally find a balance that worked.  I ended up taking out the left hand bass notes I was playing, and instead of comping the chords, I just played whole notes, and the simple quarter-note octaves with the right hand.  And as it was all coming together, everyone was raving about the amazing piano part!  I kept saying that it wasn't original; it was Taylor's idea, but Taylor said, "You're the one playing it!"  Regardless, I was extremely happy that everyone loved it because I was afraid Heath or Jim would try to change it.  Later, after dinner, when we listened back to it and I heard the whole thing together, I realized why everyone was raving about it.  Not gonna lie, it's pretty awesome.  Hooray for The Almost and music theory knowledge!!

The beautiful/disgusting thing about recording with a keyboard is that if you make a mistake, Heath can just go in and change it for you.  There were only a couple of places he needed to do that for me; I take a Dr. Mortensen approach and try to get it right live so I only need one take.  Then it was 8:30, and we left!  Another wonderful thing; when I got back, I finished my paper and packed for the weekend.

As we were leaving, Rachel was feeling really sick; she had an infection on her lung and was taking a ton of meds for it, and Jim knew she wouldn't be able to tour with us that weekend.  We found out that Candy from Orange Team would be coming with us on tour.  I was interested to see how the weekend would go with her, and it ended up being a great time.  More on that in my next blog.  :)

Recording Studio, Studio Class; yes, the word can take on different meanings. This is the life of a ped major on HeartSong: where reality can be warped and is dependent upon each individual situation.  But that's a philosophy discussion we don't need to get into now.

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