You’ve perfected your lighting, picked the perfect external microphone, and have your instrument tuned and ready... but how does one combat the undeniable nerves that accompany making prescreening and audition recordings? Undergraduate Voice and Opera student Valérie Filloux has some ideas that have carried her through the frustrating and vital process of recording.

Take care of yourself physically and mentally before and during recordings.

“I tend to go into maximum-singer-mode when I record; I fully fit the stereotype as I walk into the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts with a big thermos of tea and a giant scarf around my neck. Even though I no longer make the trek to the Bienen School for my recordings, I still try to practice the same self-care that I have done for the past few years. This includes getting sufficient sleep for a few days before my recording, eating a good breakfast, keeping myself super well hydrated, and listening to pump-up playlists on Spotify. Also, if they can’t see your feet, nobody will know that you aren’t wearing heels!”

Strive for excellence over perfection.

“I will let you all in on a secret: there is no perfect recording. It simply doesn’t exist. I often find myself getting stuck in the loop of ‘just one more take’ in the hopes of a flawless performance. That approach only ends up tiring me out, which, by the way, leads to even more mistakes. If you end a recording feeling generally pleased with your performance, that’s a keeper! A few mistakes or blips are natural and make you human.”

Have a trusted confidant review your performance.

“My coaches and teacher are my go-to voices of reason during the recording process. They are honest with me when my mind is too preoccupied with that weird hand gesture I made in the middle of the cadenza, or when I am convinced that I did a terrible job. They also tell me when a mistake I made is one that can fly under the radar, or if I’ll need to make another recording. I know that I can get lost in my mind after watching myself sing the same piece five different ways, so having a fresh pair of eyes and ears is such a relief. Remember: they are here to help you, and want you to succeed!“

Give yourself lots of time to get recordings done.

“Some recording days, you can get two good takes in twenty minutes and be out the door in no time! Other days, recording can feel like the most daunting, impossible task in the world. Give yourself time to take breaks and rest, or even enough time to walk away and come back in an hour. Now that we are mostly recording at home, you have the ability to walk off-camera and flop on the couch when you are feeling overwhelmed with the process. If you are booking a studio in which to record, you might consider giving yourself extra time to get your recordings done, even if you know you won’t use the whole amount. Feeling rushed only makes you worry about the clock instead of settling into the music.”

And, for the most important tip of all…treat yourself!

“Plan something fun for after your recording session! Get into your pajamas and watch your favorite TV show, order takeout, or get some boba/ice cream/chocolate of any kind. You deserve to celebrate the amazing work you just did!”

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