“I need a recording of two songs ‘Cornerstone’ by Hillsongs and ‘The Cross Stands Above it all’ by Tim Hughes [and others] for a national webcast. Do you have a solo piano and voice recording?”
A few weeks ago, we had just finished breakfast when we spotted the above email request from a friend.
The simple answer was no. But we were game to try and record one. What was the deadline anyways? Ah! Lunchtime. That’s three hours away!
Whether you are meeting a deadline for the BBC or thinking about how to lead worship over Zoom next Sunday, what questions are you asking? Here are a few of ours: ·
What is the song arrangement?
Who will be listening or singing along?
What’s the mood? Uptempo, or more reflective?
What is my body language if it’s a video?
What is the context or brief? “Please lead worship”; “Please keep it understated”; “Please make it accessible for children”
And we were also asked …could each song be 2½ minutes in length please!
Lord, what are you saying? How can we connect when we are not in the same room, or feel so far away? Help us Jesus!
And Jesus does. Reminds us that this is where all our previous training, experience and skills development comes in.
So some things to think about:
Work out your arrangement.
For example, are you having a piano intro? We included a change key for 2nd verse of ‘Cornerstone’
How do we get the best tone quality?
Maybe record a video ahead of time.
Work out best microphone sound aids on Zoom or FaceTime?
Will you need pop shields?
What is the balance between your voice and the guitar or the piano? [We have an AKG C214 – brilliant for voice)
If you are working to a request (for example, please can we have this particular song for Easter Day]
Learn your song quickly.
Sing along to a version of it or if reading charts, sol-fa also rocks as a vocalist.
Try to pick up and follow the emotional journey of the song.
I’ve found that praying through the lyrics helps
Practice your set-up and sound check.
Maybe with a friend over Zoom. Can they hear you? Does the sound cut-out? Are your gestures big, clear? Are you aware of what your face is doing? Smiling? Frowning?
Do you know your sound?
Don’t try to be someone else or some other sound. Be you! Be authentic.
Don’t feel you need to drag it out
You can do a lot 2½ minutes.
For our ‘beat the clock’ deadline, we actually had two songs to produce. The 2nd one we didn’t know! But that’s a minor detail if you allow the questions above and your responses to them to come into play.
2 further thoughts:
Find the best key for you and for the group.
Male and female voices will be most comfortable singing together from ‘A’ below mid-C to around ‘D’ just over an octave above.
Ask what is the context?
For example, we were keen to connect the ‘The Cross stands above it all’ with some of the uncertainty and questions in these days of lockdown, which resonates with questions in this waiting season of Lent, so we improvised new lyrics of ‘uncertain times’ and ‘in the waiting days’ into the outro.
There you go! Both songs completed, recorded, mixed and mastered and sent as mp3s thankfully within the deadline. To be honest, it was a genuine pleasure to be asked to share our creativity in this way. Made me think of the ways some of you connect your gifts and talents to the heart cry of this season, using your creativity to express prayer and worship for your church communities and small groups.
Maybe you have some top tips for presenting, leading worship in this lockdown season too, why not share them on the blog.
Here’s a big shout out you all – thank you!