We have begun rehearsals for our first worship recording at Hilton Head Island Community Church . It has already been such a huge team building time and has created such a spirit of unity among our musicians.
I've had the privilege of producing several records for churches including a live worship CD and video. However, the way this is coming together has been the best experience I've had in doing this at church. Here's what is working for us:
1) We are doing songs we love and that we know very well. We only have one original song and the rest are songs we love to sing at church. Because these songs are familiar, in a lot of ways, they have morphed into our own arrangements which allows some originality. This has made using all of our musicians a reality because everyone knows the material.
2) We are recording our rehearsals every week. This allows us to listen to our arrangements and tweak. We have broken the record into two parts based on the instrumentation. With four rehearsals scheduled, this gives us two rehearsals for each part of the record which is plenty of time to tweak and perfect our band parts and arrangements. I upload these recordings to Planning Center so everyone can listen and evaluate.
3) We have hired a producer. In the past, I've produced records that I have played and sang on as a musician. This time, I wanted to totally devote my energy to the arrangements, my parts, and to investing in the team experience. It's the best decision I've made! We've hired personal friends of mine that I have worked with before and highly respect from the recording world in Atlanta to produce.
4) We are recording everything at our church. This has greatly reduced the cost of this project. We've blocked out two full days for band tracking and two full days for vocals (three weeks after the band tracking days.) We are limiting overdubs and trying to get the best live take of every song. At this point, based on the rehearsal recordings, we think it will work.
5) We are breaking up the vocals between three worship leaders with BGV's, and yes...choir! I love big vocals on certain songs and I love the simplicity of a lead vocal and one or two background voices. This allows EVERYONE to participate and be a part of the experience.
6) We have been playing with a click track every week on Sundays. Because we do it every week, there is no pressure on the team during the recording process. They are used to it and it has become just a part of our weekly process.
7) We are working on this project during a "slower" part of the year. January and February does not hold a lot of outside pressure for us as a team and so this has been a great time of year to devote to this entire project. We will be done with everything on our part by the last week of February.
I'll be updating you all on our progress as we continue. We are half-way through our rehearsals and I'm already thrilled about how far along we are as a team!