Notwithstanding the fact that Coventry is approximately a 2 hour drive from our Bath based studios, compared to many of the recordings we have undertaken recently, it seemed fairly local. So local in fact I only had to leave home at 5am. Just lately most of the recordings have necessitated a departure nearer to 4am, which let’s face it is a fairly anti social hour!
An hour or so later I had made it as far as Warwick Services on the M40 and by now breakfast, or at least some form of sustenance, was called for. This being a UK service station the choices were fairly limited. In fact the only thing which looked vaguely palatable was a piece of toast and a latte from Starbucks.
Moments later having been disappointed by the breakfast I was back on the road and heading to Coventry. This was our first recording with Hollyfast Primary School and I am always keen to ensure I arrive before the appointed time of 07.30. When I did get to the school (slightly ahead of time) the receptionist was there to greet me and moments later I was unloading the van to get set up in the school hall.
We have streamlined our setup as much as possible for school recordings and tend to only bring in the kit which is likely to actually be used. It always amuses me when I first arrive as I tend to walk in carrying the laptop which is in the rucksack. After all I may as well take something in rather than go in empty handed. When I put the rucksack down in the hall, most people then ask me if I have anything else to bring in!
I’m not quite sure what sort of recording you could do just out of a rucksack but I suspect it wouldn’t be something the customer would be pleased with! Nevertheless when you do this every day (it saves on gym membership) it doesn’t really take us that long to set up. Most of the time by arriving at 07.30 I am ready to record from shortly after 8.00am.
Arrival times and Setup
I do sometimes wonder whether I should delay the arrival time. But there are two problems with this. Firstly after 07.30 the roads start getting a lot busier. By leaving early and aiming to arrive when the majority of people are starting their commute we can guarantee the journey time. If Google says it’s 3 hours then I leave at 4am (with 30 minutes in hand). If I get ahead of time, or at least don’t get behind time then I have half an hour to stop for breakfast!
The second issue with arriving later than 7.30 is the issue of parking. Some schools, like Hollyfast have the option of reversing the van right up to the door of the hall to unload. Other schools have no other option than parking in the car park and then carrying everything right through the school. This can be the difference between having everything in the hall within 5 minutes of arrival, as it was today, or sometimes 45 minutes after arriving. We therefore have to stick to our 7.30 arrival time.
The set up at Hollyfast was fairly straightforward. Although I discovered moments after taking this photograph that in fact we would also be recording the piano. Not only that, I was then asked if it would be ok for me to play the piano. This always seems to happen when I play a few chords on the piano to see what we are up against. Fortunately this was a nice new specimen from Yamaha so it was nice to record and a delight to play.
The Recording Session
We started with the Hollyfast choir and then proceeded to record songs by each year group. The session culminated with a few songs featuring the whole school and the staff. This was a big school – around 400 pupils and so even though the hall was a decent size there wasn’t a lot of room left once all the pupils were in!
I had a great time recording at Hollyfast Primary School and as with the majority of recordings this year, all the artwork was also put together on site and signed off by the customer there and then. This has made a huge difference to our workflow and also significantly shortened the lead time between recording and CD delivery. It’s also a lot easier for the customer as they can get it all done whilst they are thinking about the recording and then sign off the audio before I’ve left site. Teachers are busy people and so do not need to be bombarded with emails from me asking about artwork. Much easier to get it done there and then with the teachers being able to have an input as the artwork is put together.