This recording at Lingfield College Prep School was our fourth trip out towards Kent this season. On this occasion, it wasn’t quite so far around the M25 and in fact just a little further than our recording with Tonbridge Grammar School which we did in Brasted a few weeks beforehand.
Normally we aim to arrive at 07.30 for School CD Recordings. However, Lingfield College Prep wanted to have the recording finished by 10.45am! With 21 songs to record I suggested we should start as early as feasible, which was 08.45. Generally speaking by arriving at 07.30 we are normally ready and set up easily by 08.15 but you never quite know. So to be on the safe side I decided to arrive at 07.00 and had agreed with the school to be let in at 07.15.
One of the main reasons for allowing plenty of time, is not actually the time it takes to set up the kit. That is a known quantity. With all the kit easily to hand it takes about 20 minutes to get everything set up and ready. The unknown factor is how far it is from the car park to the recording venue. This can vary enormously. Sometimes we have to bring everything in from a car park which is a short walk from the main repletion. Getting through reception doors in some schools can be a challenge as they cannot be propped open and usually there are at least 2 doors to negotiate.
Fortunately at Lingfield I was able to bring the van right up to the door of the hall for the purpose of unloading. This is another advantage of arriving before the children do because it means we can at least sneak in to unload where otherwise vehicles would not normally be permitted.
By reversing the van right up to the door of the hall, which was our recording venue for the day, this meant unloading took just a few minutes even with the 10 or more trips from the van to bring everything in. With 10 trips needed you can easily see how even just 3 minutes per trip loses us 30 minutes or more in setup time.
This was the first time that Lingfield College Prep had done a School CD Recording and we were honoured to have the opportunity to be recording for them. The hall was a good size and had a reasonable dead acoustic, which is often better for recordings which include a lot of children singing together.
A quick assessment based on the acoustic of the space, and the number of children to be recorded in each group suggested that the best place for the microphones would be on the stage area. This also meant it was easy to keep cables out of the way. Planning our set up so that children can easily, and safely, get in and out of the recording space is always a key factor in determining exactly the solution we go for.
With the unloading not taking very long, I was soon ready to record. And good thing too as there was a lot of get through. Shortly after 0845, the first group of children came into the hall. All the songs were being accompanied by piano and were mostly large groups which meant we could pretty much go seamlessly from one song to another without any ‘set changes’.
The recording progressed well – luckily the hall was fairly well soundproofed – although we did have to keep the windows closed. It turned out that not only was Lingfield fairly close to Gatwick, certainly on that particular day it was directly under the approach path of many aircraft, as a quick look at Plane Finder confirmed!
With some efficient organisation from Lingfield staff, the recording of all 21 songs was completed exactly on schedule at 10.45. The Head of Music, Janet Mills, then had to go and teach for half an hour, so I used this time to pack away and put together the CD artwork. We then sat down together and went through the designs and the booklet text so the artwork could be agreed and signed off before I left site. By now it was lunchtime as I was invited to join the staff table for a rather splendid lamb casserole before heading back to Wiltshire.