5 tips to achieve a better performance when recording

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I used to be really scared about performing live in front of producers and people who were there to evaluate my work That is why I came up with these tips to take out the stress and lighten the atmosphere:

Don’t hasten

Take your time, don’t let yourself be driven by anxiety. Don’t settle for a performance that is just good enough. Even if there is people around putting pressure on you try to concentrate on your ultimate goal: being passionate and emotional, so that your music will evoke the same feelings in the viewers. Be clear about this and the team in the control booth will understand and give you space.

Think in images

Sometimes, during the recording you’ll be asked to make “little changes” on the fly, or you will feel adding improvisational elements will improve on your original ideas. Always remember that you are creating the main sonic/emotional atmosphere in which a scene exists, so you should listen to your intuition to add layers to a project. It’s never to late to ask questions about the plot, the setting, and above all LIGHT. This will help you to better grasp the project.


As in every studio recording you should be prepared as much as you can.
Don’t overdo it though, and take your time to relax and have some little pauses between different sessions.
If you’ve studied for days, you can skip the “last-minute rehearsal”, as it could do more harm than good.

Bring everything you need

Most of the time, before a recording session, you’ll have the sudden feeling you forgot to bring something important along. Whether you are missing parts, chords, notes, or your favorite lucky charm this will bring anxiety and fear, making it harder to concentrate and give your best performance.

Here is a personal advice: always carry a spare pair of earphones and an mp3 player/phone with the demos or the entire songs on it. Take it with you even though you might think you don’t need it. There have been situations where it was a game-changer for me.

Furthermore bring some random music to relax during sound checks/session preparations. That could help you get in tune with the mood you’re going to infuse in your performance (don’t listen to Metallica if you’re going to record an ambient/lounge Lento).

Give some context

Sometimes the recording session is the moment where some of the movie’s film makers hear the music for a particular scene for the first time. Since the other elements of the soundtrack (dialogues and FX) are not yet mixed properly with the score it might be hard for the people in the control booth to establish a connection with your music. In these situations it can be very useful to get everyone’s attention before the performance and give some context. I know, this sounds a bit scary… But it will help them understand your creative choices and they will have a clearer picture of the final result once the music has been properly mixed.

Bonus tip: when the film makers are hearing a particular theme for the first time during the recording play it a couple of time for them when you have their attention, this will give you and the production team a deeper connection with the score and make everyone more focused and interested.

A last word of advice

Be yourself, believe in yourself and your abilities. Being a composer and a musician means being able to cope with long periods of inactivity, learning how to exploit the time you have without always being afraid of what’s coming (or not) next. Good luck!

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Andrea Tonoli

Andrea Tonoli

Born in 1991 Andrea Tonoli is a composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist located in Milan, Italy. Andrea has written, released and performed worldwide 6 albums in the last 5 years, with some of his works being used as soundtracks for movies, commercials and documentaries by important companies such as National Geographic. More info: www.andreatonoli.com

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