Our engineers travel all over the country, particularly at this time of year when we are busy recording Christmas Albums in Primary Schools. Prior to the recording at Hayes Primary School, near Bromley in Kent we have been to Birmingham and Scotland. Less than a week earlier we were just down the road in Brasted recording with Tonbridge Grammar School. Nevertheless, we go where the work takes us and today it had taken us back to Kent.
Arriving at the appointed hour of 07.30am I was soon unloading the van and getting our recording gear set up in the school hall. Due to how busy we are at the moment, this was the first recording for a while where there was only me on location. This is (hopefully) no bad thing and certainly doesn’t detract from the quality of work we will do. In fact the main help of having two people is when it comes to unloading. It always seems to work out that when I am recording as a single hander, the school hall is always a long way away from the car park and usually through several doors, all of which have to be pulled open!
Nevertheless, before too long, and still well ahead of the planned 9am start time, I had all the kit in the school hall and was ready to start recording with Hayes Primary School.
There was no need to over complicate the setup here as we were recording songs to backing tracks and just in Year Groups. Or so I thought. One of the first things we clarify on arrival is whether there are any soloists, instrumental groups or other items / people to record. It’s absolutely not a problem if there is, it just helps us to know in advance so we don’t waste precious session time setting up additional microphones or kit.
However, sometimes plans change for various reasons. And it was decided that one of the groups would sing to piano accompaniment. This didnt present any issue and it just meant there was a slight pause for 10 minutes whilst I set up some additional microphones on the piano. Fortunately whilst I was doing this, the teachers kindly made me another cup of coffee!
Like any company we are always keen to keep our business moving forward and where necessary will make changes or improvements. This year one of the key things we have been trying to do is get the artwork done whilst we are out on location. Previously we have just asked schools to let us have a copy of their pupils drawings to go on the CD cover and we have taken it away and worked on this back in our studio. However, when we are away for several days at a time this isn’t really the most efficient method.
So now we take a second laptop on site and we use that to work on the CD artwork between songs or during the morning / lunchtime breaks. This has made the whole process far more efficient and, hopefully, also makes it easier for the schools as we can get the artwork signed off there and then.
Having got hold of the pupil drawings, we scanned them in and then started working on the designs. Moments later it looked more like this:
Now, of course I am well aware that Graphic Designers out there will ridicule our concept of ‘artwork design’. Remember I’m a sound engineer not a graphic design artist. The thing is we are here to offer a complete solution for schools to record and produce a CD. We do not charge for the CD artwork designs and nor do we expect to win any awards. Of course, like all our clients, the schools can design their own artwork should they prefer to – all the templates are available for download.
I had a great time recording the pupils and staff at Hayes Primary School in Kent. They were extremely welcoming and the singing was superb. The CD is now in production and we always aim to deliver the discs within a week or so of everything being signed off. I will leave you with an image of the staff singing their song for the album! Like all school staff they came up with all the usual excuses of ‘I can’t sing’ etc… But actually, they could sing and they sang extremely well. If you want to find out what song they performed you will have to buy the CD!
About the School
Hayes Primary School is a Spring Partnership School and situated on the edge of the countryside, set in extensive grounds; it enjoys all the advantages of a city school whilst retaining its village character. The school prides itself on providing an excellent, broad and balanced curriculum and ensuring high standards in the core subject areas of Reading, Writing and Maths. In a relentless drive for excellence, the aim is for all pupils to develop as effective learners, have excellent social and emotional skills and fulfil their potential. You can find out more about the school on their website.