demo sessions 4: time management

so youve finalized the rep. has timeline for due dates. secured your staff. and now: time management.

try to figure out what you would need and may 'want,' and by that, think about the order of the asked playing samples. you want to put the strongest one on the beginning, as the schools receives mountains of cds, there's no guarantee that they will listen to all of it. well, i suppose there's a guarantee that they will NOT listen to all of it, haha.  so though it may be possible for the auditioner(s) to move around and listen to things out of order, it is likely that they will pop it in and it'll start blaring whatever's on first.  also, the other point is that look into your weakest piece- this is the one that you may want to take multiple takes of.  save some time for it.

here's a news. to record an hour of music, it usually takes 2+ hours.  how does that work? well, first, depending on the familiarity with space/acoustic, you and your engineer will have to play around for a bit to find the optimal space. this is worth the time especially if you are doing your 'own' with consumer level electronics.  this set-up can take anywhere from 10 min to half hour.  if not sure, play a bit, record and listen to it before you commit the entire session with the setup.

and between takes, you will want to stop and discuss/review and determine what can be fixed and what should be embraced (aha. your producer would be useful here).  try not to dwell too much on the discussion, however, it will take time.  for instance, if you are recording a song as a vocalist and your song is about 2 min long, do realize your discussion with pianist may take longer than 2 min.  more number of selections there are, more time it will need for in-between-things.

and there's no way that people feel fresh enough to plow through a session unless one is already experienced.  do realize that mental pressure of 'demo' making will take some toll on self. you may need drink of water or time to cool down for the next track.  and no, this is separate from the discussion time.  it is safe to assume that a typical audition cd (3 instrumental selections and couple excerpts) will take 2 hours or longer usually.  do try to make a time sheet- allocate chunks of time to each track and do make consideration for possible take 2, 3, 4..., along with the previously mentioned breaks and discussions, dont forget the setup time either.  this will give you a very realistic timeline of a session.

do realize that after the raw takes are made, engineer will spend additional time to cut, trim, save and burn your material in required form.  for straight trimming/tailing/burning, it usually takes me anywhere between 0.5 hr to... whatevers. so dont make an exciting and dangerous assumption that by the end of session, you will have something that you can put in an envelop to send off.  however, if you are doing real time burning (there are portable CD burners that will do it), this may be possible. check with your engineer.

look over small stuff that you can do in advance to save the time.  one big thing is score-related things. does your score and pianist/collaborators' scores match up? same edition? has same bar number? at least put in some bar numbers or rehearsal numbers, which will save you significant amo of time during discussion and retakes (if applicable).  are they readable?  are silent page turns possible- you can do this by getting someone to turn, or shrink the pages and print multiple in one page to eliminate the turn, whatever you have to do, as falling pages do happen and a track can be... unusable.  if you have photocopies, are they secured in a binder or other things, so it'll be readable and stay put in one place? feel free to bring some tapes. they never hurt anyone.  even better, on that last rehearsal with your team, do some 'practice' takes, and do cut, paste, shrink, print, tape, so that your music is not going to pose additional problems.

if you think you need other things- water, etc., do get it before your session starts. you may not want to be rushed but when that time ticks to the last few min and you still have few things to lay down, you might experience slight anxiety and regret.  a few people also pack energy bars and other fuels, as rec session can be somehow quite draining.  if you need to go out and get a banana in a middle of a session, you will lose time.

remember to turn your phone off. 

do bring a watch or a clock and keep an eye on time AND timeline.

these four posts should carry you for the most basic demo making sessions.
i hope everyone will have a successful demo making experience, and do remember: most likely, you would be doing an early-year demo. this is not representational of who you are and what you do. it's a simple snapshot of who you are now.  if this is for applications, do realize that pre-screening is only a pre-screening. this is not the end or the beginning of the world. it doesnt have to be. and if it is for pre-screen, most schools do not allow edits either, so all you have to do is go out and take couple shots.  relax and be who you are. you dont want to be someone else and the schools dont want to take someone else- they want to see who you are!!

and yeah, dont ever get clever and rip someone else's work off to send in. this has happened in past. once you are caught, it could lead to 'academic dishonesty,' meaning all your post-secondary degrees can be taken away from you, and you could be banned from the entire north american post-secondary educational institutions. and yes, this is retroactive.  

happy recording!

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