We are rapidly approaching the season of exams for both GCSE and A Level students. A lot of pupils will be engaged in final preparations and revision for their exams. If you are doing a music exam this may well include a performance and or composition module. As exam boards cannot send invigilators to every school to listen to all the submissions, these have to be recorded and sent in for assessment.
Recording in School
The easiest solution is potentially to do all the recording in school. There are a variety of solutions for this. Some schools have their own recording studios whilst others with have a microphone which can be hooked into a computer perhaps via USB or a mixing desk. I’ve even come across some schools who record the performances on an iPhone.
Obviously the two main advantages of recording in school, is being able to do the recordings as and when you wish without too much planning. Also importantly, there is also no additional cost if you record ‘in house’.
Schools vary wildly in their access to technology, along with staff able to operate it. And so potentially, the biggest disadvantage to recording in school is the quality or indeed lack of quality of the end product. A poorly positioned microphone can make all the difference when recording. Just putting a microphone in front of an instrumentalist really won’t work. And particularly if you have one microphone and multiple instruments this could lead to a ‘muddy’ mess of sound which even the best studios will not be able to resolve for you.
Using a Professional Recording Company
Looking at the thoughts above, the thing which is immediately obvious is that all the Advantages of recording in school benefit the teachers, whilst all the Disadvantages affect the pupils.
By engaging a professional recording company to help you, the most obvious difference is that your pupils will get a first rate recording of their composition or performance. Regardless of whether we are recording a violin duet with piano, a rock band or even an entire orchestra, we have the capability and experience to do a good job every time.
Where to record
In the above example we were setting up to record in a school Drama studio. We can set up in almost any space, even a spare classroom if that’s all which is available. Ideally it helps if the space is quiet and not subjected to external noise. However, unlike a more traditional recording to produce an album, the occasional noise isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Obviously we need to be aware of things like bells going off at random times!
How long does it take?
Essentially each pupil only needs long enough to play their piece through, perhaps 2 or at most 3 times. Obviously there are rules on editing (see below) when it comes to exam submissions so we can only record full takes of the performance. We record everything so even if your ‘practice’ turns out to be the best performance that’s ok! Aside of that we just need 30 seconds or so to set levels for each candidate.
Post Production and Exam Regulations
We have recorded many groups for exam assessment, whether its school GCSE and A Level performances or choirs entering competitions. Generally speaking the regulations stipulate that the tracks must not be edited in any way and should remain as true to the original performance as possible. This can sometimes extend to post production techniques too. For example if recording a singer we would not us auto tune or any other form or correction tool.
Whilst on location with you, we will agree which take you want to use and that is the one which will be mastered and sent to you for each pupil. If you need to record pupil and candidate number on the front of the track, this can either be done with you on the day or it is something we can add in production if you give us the details.
As always we are also happy to submit confirmation that our tracks will conform to the particular rules of your exam board so you have peace of mind that your recordings will be accepted.
Find out more
The majority of our school recordings are carried out by our sister company Recordings 4 Schools. There is more information about our recording services for GCSE and A-Level performance exams on their website. Alternatively if you would like to get in touch to discuss a recording at your school you can email us via our contact form or call us on 01225 302143