My daughter, Ariana, spent a week in Nashville recently recording two songs at the Loud Studio with top Nashville session musicians. I got to
sing back-up harmonies on one tune. Backing up my own daughter – now that was a life-time thrill. What was also thrilling was watching Ariana sing without nerves or attitude. She was prepared, confident, focused and responsive to direction from the engineer and producer. Anxious worries did not bother her. She said afterward, “That was so easy – and FUN!”
I, on the other hand, was bedeviled with self-doubt, which surprised me. Luckily, my husband was there because he know how to communicate with me when I get edgy in the recording studio. Trying to match Ariana’s vocal lines exactly as she sang them was quite tricky. I had to be patient, listen closely and trust myself.
The results of the two of us singing in tandem together were very satisfying.
Afterwards, Ariana and I talked about what made it “easy” for her. First, she practiced these songs for several months, not to have them “perfect,” but to enjoy the words and melodies and to play with vocal and stylistic options so she would have options in the studio, depending on what the other musicians needed. Second, she had a chance to see the recording studio and have dinner with the engineer and producer in advance. Seeing where she would be performing and meeting the key players helped build trust, allowing her to just sing when the time came. Third, Ariana went to a Reiki practitioner to help her be ready emotionally and to align her goals with her inner and outer energy.
These three simple strategies are enormously helpful in allowing a performer to actually be able to do what they have practiced in the key moment required.
1- Practice and play so that you are confident of your ability to perform in a range of circumstances. There are a host of unknowns in a recording situation as well as a performance. Practicing for options gives you choices when the time comes and the ability to respond effectively, immediately and from a centered, responsive place.
2 – If at all possible, meet the other players or at least talk with them beforehand. Go to the studio or look at pictures on line so you can visualize yourself performing your best in that space.
3 – Work on your emotional and mental readiness. Get appropriate help if you need to. Our mental attitude and bellefs influence our feelings, which in turn, influence how freely we can sing.
Being well prepared allowed Ariana to sing in the recording studio with confidence, experimentation, and joy. I was happy to be reminded of the value of these strategies, especially from my own daughter!