The Song Within Your Heart

What is the song in your heart?

So, you are a believer, you know Jesus as your personal Saviour (rescuer, somebody who rescues somebody or something from harm or danger. Your redeemer, liberator). I wonder if that is the song in your heart. Are there victorious, uplifting words knocking about it your head or are there defeating, death words running through your thoughts?

A few years ago, I felt really challenged by the Lord. He told me to leave the Church I was in and move to a Church where nobody knew my name or recognised me. I did it; admittedly I ignored the Lord on the subject for a few months and then cried for a few months before making the bold move. I knew it was going to be tough because the Lord had told me it would be. He was right.

During this time I really related to a song by One Republic called Stop and Stare. I was so out of my comfort zone, I’d given up everything to follow God to a place where I felt scared of what the future held but had a burning desire to go deeper and further and grow in the call on my life to lead God’s people in worship and the song with in my heart was ‘stop and stare, I think I’m moving but I go nowhere’. These words were not giving me the strength and courage I needed to hold onto Jesus and move into the next phase of my life.

One day as I was parking the car outside my house I was singing ‘I think I’m moving but I go nowhere’ and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me ‘stop singing that’. I felt the Holy Spirit say ‘you are moving, you are going somewhere’ so I stopped singing the song. The lyrics of this song were feeding my unbelief about things working out for the future. What I needed to hear were words that fed my faith and anchored me to God so I started listening to an old Hillsongs track (lyrics below) in my car the words from this song gave me strength and Jesus’ perspective on my situation. Things did work out, I did move on I am still going somewhere.

All The Power You Need – Hillsongs

My God can never fail,
He’s been proved time and again
Trust Him and see
He’s got all the power you need

He’s never early, never late
It takes courage, it takes faith
Trust Him and see
He’s got all the power you need

What are you listening to? Is it feeding your faith and empowering you or is it bringing you down? If it is bringing you down stop listening to it and find something that is full of the Holy Spirit and let it get into your heart and mind and take you from strength to strength.

311 Won’t Work

Sometimes it’s hard to use the 311 rule because the congregation changes so much from week to week.  I would still use the 311 rule but watch the members of the congregation that are there on a regular basis, select a variety of people so that you can get a true reflection of how well the song is being received.

The other thing that I would do in the above situation is to re-teach the song (Nothing heavy just sing a verse and chorus to them).  I was once in a church where I had to re-teach songs nearly every week, I prefer to re-teach and drop other songs rather than lose half the congregation because they don’t know the song.

Finding a new studio

I took a day off before beginning the search for a new stdio.  I was exhausted  in everyway!

I didn’t have to look very hard for the new studio.  I had heard about a studio in Forest Hill so did a google search and found Perry Vale Studios, they specialise in guitar music, I new Perry Vale well but didn’t know that there was a studio on it’s door step.  I gave them a call.  I really liked the sound of the studio, they had good facilities, the studio owner had a lovely approach to me and my project and he had heaps of experience having been in the recording business all his life. 

On Monday I transferred all the files to the second studio.  I met Pat Collier at Perry Vale studios.  Pat said that I needed to hear all the tracks so that I could work out what worked, what didn’t and what still needed doing.  We also discussed how long he thought it would take to mix the tracks, how much it would cost, what times where available (generally a day in the studio is 9 hours long with no lunch breaks.  Most studios offer lock down days, which means for an agreed rate you keep working into the early hours until you have achieved your goals for the day).  We also discussed when I would pay the studio.  The done thing is to pay up  after your last consecutive day or if you are using the studio hourly or for intermittent sessions pay up at the end of your session.  You should agree payment methods too.

Other things that I found helpful when looking for the studio were:

1, Do you and your team work well with the engineer?  If the answer is yes great if the answer is no I suggest you keep looking.  Your project will be compromised if you don’t get this one right.

2, What are the facilities like?  Is there somewhere for the band to chill out?   Is there a kitchen and tv?  Can the whole band sit with the engineer in the control room?

3,  Are there isolation booths for drums and electrics?  If you’re recording more than one instrument at a time isolation booths are useful.

4, Agree start times, what time will the studio open so that everyone can get in and get prepared work should start at the agreed time, you are paying for late starts and bad planning.  Be flexible but expect to get what you are paying for.

5, What equipment does the studio have?  How are they recording.  What amps do they have etc (not my strong point).  Is there a piano available?

6, What editing equipment does the studio offer.  For example if the studio doesn’t have auto tune modules (they do not come as standard with Pro Tools).  You will be paying for someone to manually tune vocals.

7, How much experience does the engineer have and is that important to your project?  It maybe less important if you’re recording a demo but may be extremely important if you are recording an album.

8, Where is the studio located?  Does that work for you and your band?  Are there alternatives?  I chose not to go out of London because I didn’t want to incur accommodation costs.

9, Get everything you have agreed down on paper, this is a business, you’ll be glad you have put things in writing if things get confused, sadly they often do.

So back to  the project, Pat did a rough mix of one of the tracks and sent it to me so that i could evaluate his work and decide if I wanted to work with him.  I decided that I wanted to work with him.  Pat then sent me rough mixes of all the tracks and I sent him tracks that had been sent to the band so that he could familiarise himself with the sound I was after.

Recording the album 1 – prep

Jo Puleston had given me some advice about the album a couple of years ago, Jo is a recorded artist and worship leader.  One of the things she suggested to me was to send the songs I wanted to put on the album to Christian leaders whom I trusted.  This was to see if I actually had an album to put together.  It was good advice as it meant the songs were tested and submitted to my peers and leaders before I embarked on an expensive recording project.

Once I had the final songs for the album everything seemed to happen really quickly.  I met up with a few potential producers; I didn’t really know how to put the album together.  I also met up with Chris and Jen Orange who gave me lots of pointers.  Chris suggested that I get Henry involved in the project. (Henry has recorded with Graham Kendrick, Godfrey Birtell and the Oranges) and so was more experienced in the studio than me for one!

I’d already met up with Rob Medley who is an experienced and gifted musician and a good friend.  Rob has worked with Graham Kendrick, Chris and Jen Orange and is currently playing for Judy Bailey.  He gave me lots of advice and agreed to co-produce the album with me.

Rob suggested that I get the songs out to band members so that they ‘lived with them for a while before we came together’.  He also said that we shouldn’t use valuable studio time to put the songs together but instead schedule some rehearsals, in this way the band would get to know each other and begin to own the project.   

After meeting with Rob I went home and started doing my homework.  I began by looking up Tim Hughes blog and Al Gordon’s blog.  I was aware that they wrote daily blogs when they where recording their albums.  I’m so glad they both blogged their recordings as I learnt so much from them.   In particular I took Al’s advice to relax and have fun.  It was useful to know that the core musicians were all jamming together and how each instrument was isolated in separate rooms or behind screens.  It was clear from Al’s blog that they were working really hard and that they were working long hours.  I got a sense from Al that he just went for it vocally which I found useful, singers can clam up when it’s time to be recorded!

From Tim’s blog I took much the same advice.  I liked what he said about being keen to capture a sense of worship, excitement and passion in all the songs in his recording.  I knew that I too wanted that, and was now deciding that I wanted the core band to record at the same time so that we would capture that sense of worship as we recorded.  Tim also said that when he records vocals he ‘tried to capture an image in his mind, a thought or scripture’ so that he could ‘keep a worshipful perspective’ which ‘helps to dig deep capturing more passion and emotion’.  This was invaluable when I came to record vocals.

As a result of reading their blogs I began to look for riffs, climaxes, places of quietness and celebration in the songs I would be recording.  Thanks guys.