5 Tips to Record A Great Audition
Let’s face it, we now live in a virtual world. We learn and game online, shop online, hold Zoom meetings, order from online delivery services, and meet up with friends virtually. We even take part in online music competitions. We are resilient in the face of adversity, and none more so than kids. So, when my son had concert band tryouts online, he was prepared with a new reed and tips to record a great audition!
1. Check Requirements
First things first – check the requirements for your audition. Schools and other music programs will have specific guidelines for submitting. Most will not allow splicing or mastering so don’t count on those in the editing process. You may need to convert a file to MP3 or arrange your pieces so that they flow smoothly. YouTube has some great tutorials to get you started.
If you are recording at home, finding a good spot might be tough. Ideally, a larger space like a living room or game room works well. Try for high ceilings and soft surfaces (like stuffed furniture and carpet) to help absorb sound that might create an echo or “slapback.” Give yourself space for a microphone, which should be about as far from you as an audience member at an intimate recital.
3. Background Noise
This is possibly the most challenging part of a virtual home audition. It’s really hard to control background noise, especially when we are all at home right now! Parents are working, kids are learning, babies are crying, and dogs are barking. Let’s not forget the garbage truck that will inevitably drive past during a crucial part of your audition!
While certain factors are beyond your control, you can minimize the chaos. Choose a time that tends to be quieter, like early morning or late evening. Request a ‘quiet zone’ for recording and hang a reminder on the door.
Some background noises are less obvious than the truck, like birdsong, running A/C, or lawnmowers. Again, the location you choose (see above) can help reduce interference from the everyday din and keep your sound clean.
Choosing the equipment to use during your audition is tricky. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money on high-end hardware for a simple school band audition. However, if music is your major or you are trying out for a professional spot, an investment in the good stuff might make sense. Here are a few options to consider:
TASCAM’s iM2 turns your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a high-quality stereo recorder. It plugs into the dock connector of your device and records loud instruments without distortion. It’s also handy for low noise recording. You can buy one used for around $60 so it’s a great, budget-friendly option.
The Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is a little pricier (around $119 new) but perfect for band rehearsals, concerts, or auditions. It records directly to microSD and microSDHC cards and is small enough to carry in a pocket.
The Roland R-07 High Resolution Handheld Audio Recorder is on the higher end of the scale at $198 but a solid investment (especially if you plan to continue playing). It features a compact, high-res recorder and has templates for instant set-up.
If these types of recording devices just aren’t within reach, stick with a cell phone or computer and a good microphone.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice (and make someone listen)
Virtual auditions come with their own sets of challenges, so be prepared. Practice in your recording space with your equipment before recording your submission. Test your sound quality and microphone placement. Ask a friend or teacher to listen in and give you feedback on your playing. A little prep goes a long way to build confidence and help you ace your audition.
We might be navigating new waters, but you can still shine on a virtual stage! These 5 tips to record a great audition will make YOURS stand out from the crowd.
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