Once you have decided to employ a professional recording company to come and record at your school then the next most important thing is to decide on the best venue. Below are a few things to consider when you make the choice about the recording venue.
How many people are featuring in the recording?
We do a lot of recordings in Primary Schools where the whole school are taking part in the recording session. However, that doesn’t mean to say that the whole school will be singing at the same time. Quite often they do but equally some schools record each class or year group individually and then record a choir or instrumentalists. This way everyone in the school has taken part in the recording but each group is no more than 20 people. This gives some flexibility in the choice of venue, although more space is always desirable as it gives us more options when placing the microphones around the group. Classrooms can work as a recording space but only really if the alternative has distinct disadvantages such as a terribly echoey acoustic or situated in a noisy part of the school.
Does the recording need to take place at the school?
For many schools, particularly when you have multiple year groups taking part the recording can realistically only be done within the confines of the school. Usually this means dedicating a music room or more typically the school hall for the purpose of the recording. However, sometimes if your school is just recording a Choir or smaller group for example there are some advantages of using an external building or space.
One of the difficulties of recording in the school is that unless everyone is taking part at once there will always be other noises around the school to contend with. Sometimes there is no choice – if the school hall is the only sensible place to record in then all you can do is put up notices to ask other pupils to be quiet around that area and make staff aware that a recording is going on. If you are recording a smaller group such as your school choir or a Chamber choir then it can make sense to go to a local church for a day or even record after school hours where possible.
The downside of not recording at school is of course the logistical challenge associated with getting the pupils to a different venue. Again depending on the type of school you are, sometimes the recording could take place at a weekend – then you can ask parents to drop their children at an agreed venue. For boarding schools a weekend often works well because it imposes less on the timetable. It is a common misconception that we will not work weekends. Our recording team will record any day of the week and any time of day or night – well within reason. They need to sleep sometimes!
What makes a good venue for Recording?
We are often asked to give advice on how to choose a venue for your recording. Aside of making sure there is sufficient space and that the venue is also free of unwanted noise (also check for noisy heating or lighting systems), the most important thing to consider is the acoustic. Ultimately we can add reverb or ‘echo’ in post production but we cannot take away. So if possible check the sound of your group or choir in the proposed space. Sometimes acoustic is desirable. An A Capella choir for example will often sound glorious in a big acoustic such as a chapel whereas some groups will benefit from a more dead space.