Ok, these questions aren’t asked “frequently” so much as they are things that I think are helpful to know.
Q. Do I need to bring my own pianist?
A. It is your responsibility to arrange for appropriate accompaniment, and preferably it will be someone with whom you work regularly. However, I know excellent pianists with whom I record frequently and I am always willing to recommend them.
Q. Where will we record?
A. I do not have a dedicated space for recording. I frequently use the facilities at the University of Tennessee because many of the people I record have access there but there are a number of churches around town with exceptional acoustics and quiet environments which are suitable for recording. Other factors to take into account are the quality and condition of the piano if you are using piano accompaniment.
Q. What do I need to bring?
A. Always bring your music no matter how well you know it. It is helpful for me to have a copy too, especially if it is unfamiliar repertoire. Your accompanist should have appropriate copies that are clearly marked and should be laid out so that page turns are not cumbersome and loud; sometimes this is best achieved by avoiding bound copies. It might be prudent to consider hiring a page turner so that transitions can be executed seamlessly. You should be warmed up upon arrival. The most important thing to bring is a positive attitude.
Q. How does the session work?
A. Well, this is up to you really. Generally I want to record in the order in which the artist feels the most comfortable. Expect to perform each piece at least twice. The goal is to have a complete recording to which we can add alternate takes of specific sections if so desired. We proceed from piece to piece, getting sufficient, satisfactory material. There is always the option to revisit a piece at a later time in the session, etc. You are the boss here.
Q. How long does a session last?
A. This obviously depends on the amount to be recorded, but it is directly related to the musician’s preparation. I have found that singers start to decline after about 45 minutes to an hour, and for them, anything more than 3-4 arias in a session I would consider ambitious. Instrumentalists are generally able to record longer, but 90 minutes is usually where they start to drift.
Q. Can my teacher attend the session?
A. Absolutely, they are a welcome addition, and can assist you in choosing takes etc. They often function in the role of a producer in this situation. However, remember that if they take the time to work with you during the session, it is not deducted from my time.
Q. Am I able to listen to my recording immediately?
A. Yes, I will have a set of headphones and you are welcome to listen after a take. However, I must advise against this for two reasons: first, it takes more time and second, in my experience, listening immediately afterward can be discouraging because we listen for imperfections rather than qualities. Learn to trust my ears and those of your teacher if they are present as well as your initial impression while performing. I have never met anybody who enjoys listening to themselves on a recording unless they have the time and budget to fix every single slight imperfection. So really it depends on the goal of the project, but often the goal is to create an honest, clean, and accurate recording.