Backing tracks - rehearsal recordings "Learn the notes" first!

This page is addressed mainly to singing teachers, but applies to any beginner OR experienced singer needing recordings to help them learn songs. We are mainly talking about rehearsal situation here, but of course, I can also produce backing tracks suitable for performance. I also specialise in the careful editing of existing recordings, to make them more suitable for your performance.

Singing teachers:
Don't have sufficient piano skills?
You need customised rehearsal/teaching backing tracks,
to help your students learn their scales / exercises / songs?

Tired of 'note-bashing' in class?

I make customised recordings for singing teachers, who don't have suitable keyboard skills. Unlike many pianists / musicians who are often required to make recordings to help students learn songs, I am a singing teacher myself and a fully trained educationalist, so I know how to make them in a way that will support the beginning or inexperienced (or experienced) singer in the best possible way to get the best possible results as quickly as possible.

As a teacher, you will already know that a student can't sing a song properly or produce the appropriate tone if they don't "know the notes", Unless your student has keyboard skills, they rely on a clear carefully made recording that will assist them, so they don't waste your time - and their money doing - "note bashing" in your singing class. Depending on the student, they can arrive for the first lesson with the notes more or less "under their belts", All you have to do is help them with the tricky bits they didn't quite get, and you can concentrate on actually teaching them how to sing!

Wouldn't that be nice?
I have to say that the most common complaint I receive from students who have worked with other singing teachers is the absence of this sort of simple support.

Audio / recording quality:

The other common complaint is that recordings have been made using inferior recording devices, (e.g., cheap cassette recorder on top of the piano, mobile phone etc. ) with the sound of the doorbell, the cat meowing and the clock ticking in the background! I use a direct input here, so you get a very clean piano 'studio' sound - no distracting ambient noise in the background. When you play the recording back on a suitable stereo system, it sounds exactly like a real piano "in the room"

On your direction, I can customise the track too.
I'm working in a multi-track environment here, so I can make different versions for your student, with a melody line played very loudly on top, very softly on top, or just quietly in the background or not at all. Faster or slower - all kinds of variations! Depending on the level of support they need  -   “trainer wheels” so to speak!

The "voice track" can be played by the piano
or by a different instrument for clarity.

Some students find it hard to 'pick out' the melody when played by a piano - with a piano accompaniment in the background. I have noticed that, especially with beginning students, if the melody is line is played by electronic instrument that sounds close to tone and timbre of the human voice, (at their personal register!) students will pick up the melody better. (E.g... a baritone, will be more comfortable hearing their melody line played by a synthesised bassoon sound; a soprano may prefer a flute sound) Also, by using synthesised ‘voiced’ instruments, indications around phrasing can be easily communicated to the student, unlike the sound of piano notes, which die away - no matter what you do!

Teaching the sustained 'line' of a melody,
and the phrasing is EVERYTHING, isn't it?

The synthesised instruments sounds may not sound pretty, in fact it can sound very electronic and artificial like a cheap synthesiser, but remember these recordings are not designed for anybody to listen to as an audience member having an artistic experience! They are designed for private consumption to give very clear melodic information to a singer.  However, if necessary, I can put an actual voice 'on  top', or if you live locally, you can come here and sing the vocal line on top yourself! All of these observations and techniques have been learnt "on-the-job" first as a high school teacher needing to teach very inexperienced young children how to sing a song in a hurry, right through to experienced professionals in the industry who, surprisingly often turn up to the rehearsal for the audition with no sort of backing track at all!  - or at least one that was made by their auntie in a windstorm on grandma's old piano, or in a corner of a rehearsal studio with dancers yelling and people singing in the background!

Key changes tempo changes
Keys can be changed easily, as can tempos. As your students' experience with the song grows, the backing tracks can be changed subtly to suit their development. - The melody line can be dropped out altogether or gradually reduced (as described above)   Hard to tell costs, depends on how difficult the song is. My rates are $70 (AU) an hour. I find I can lay down a relatively simple song, recorded as an MP3, burn it to a CD, or e-mail it to you whatever is required, in about 15- 20 minutes so it could be as little as $20. I have quite a few long-term arrangements with singing teachers who send all their students to me for backing tracks. Sometimes, I never actually meet the singing teacher or any of the students. I can often work out what the teacher requires by a short phone consultation, or over the Internet via Skype etc. But the upshot is you get a very personalised backing tracks on the cheap over the Internet  -- from me!

If that sounds a useful idea, feel free to contact me for more information.