Singers, do you ever record yourself singing? It’s a great idea as you practice. But what if you don’t have a top-quality microphone or video camera? Don’t fret. In this guest post, Jesse from Hear The Music shares some helpful pointers…
Many voice teachers encourage their students to record videos of themselves singing, as you can review them afterward and identify ways you can improve.
But if you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend hundreds of dollars on recording equipment to do this. You may be wondering, “How do I record myself singing — and still sound good — with only tools I already have?”
Luckily, all you need is a laptop with a webcam or a smartphone!
Here are some helpful tips on how to make yourself look and sound as great as possible.
Music videos, like the ones you see from your favorite artists, often incorporate all sorts of wild camera angles, swooping shots, and fancy visual effects. Going on the assumption that your video will be used for self-evaluation and improvement, none of that is necessary.
Instead, keep it simple. Position your camera about chest level and try to get your entire body in the shot. If your foot is out of frame, you may never know that you subconsciously tap your foot as you sing.
One of the limitations of using your phone or laptop webcam is that the microphone and camera are attached to each other. Normally the microphone would be right in front of the singer, and the camera a ways back. Finding the best positioning for this setup is a bit of a balancing act. You want to be able to see as much of your body as possible, while also keeping the microphone close enough to record at a good volume.
If you’re having trouble getting a good balance, you may want to record yourself singing the song twice: once to watch your body movements and mannerism, and another with the camera much closer to get a good recording of your voice.
Simple Room Acoustics
Acoustics are the properties or qualities of a room that determine how sound is transmitted in it, and it is literally a science.
Some basic rules are:
- Don’t record in a small room with flat, square, bare walls. This causes the sound waves to bounce all over the place and mess with each other. Larger rooms with furniture, carpet, curtains, and wall coverings will make your recording sound much better.
- Eliminate all the background noise you possibly can. Keep kids and pets out, close doors and windows, turn off the TV and unrelated music, wait until the construction crew outside your window stops jackhammering.
- If the room still sounds echoey, throw some pillows against the wall and hang up some blankets. They make great cheap acoustic panels.
How to Record Yourself Singing – Best Practices
Keep in mind you’re making a video to showcase and critique your singing abilities, not trying to win a VMA award. (Yet.)
Here are some simple best practices to get you started:
- Look into the camera. This is the same thing that you (hopefully) will be doing when you perform for other people, so you want to know what it looks like to them.
- Sit or stand naturally. Don’t tense up just because you are being recorded.
- Don’t wear distracting clothes. Clothes with lots of stripes or funky patterns may not record right and create some weird effects. Plus you want to be able to focus on you and your music, not your outfit.
- Beware of your background. Try to have a neutral, plain-looking wall behind you. Same idea as your clothes. You want the focus to be on you and your music.
- Use lots of light. You want to have plenty of light shining on you from the sides and from behind the camera, but not from behind you.
Once you get the hang of recording yourself and are confident in your abilities, you may want to start looking into producing a higher-quality music video for other people to enjoy.
The easiest way to get a dramatic increase in your recorded music quality is to use an external microphone. These days you don’t need a large expensive home studio system to get great results. Great microphones that simply plug into your computer via USB can be found for less than $100. The improvement will be immediate and glorious. Before you go out and buy something, though, you need to know how to find the best microphones for singing.
Once you have a good microphone, you can use a better quality video camera. In fact, you may already have a great one and not even know it!
When you have those two pieces of equipment you will be able to create videos that rival 90% of the music videos on YouTube! So what are you waiting for? Start recording today!