A Duet of Reflections: Recording for the IGCSE Music Assignment

Ruth & Joey, Year 10, Century Park Campus

Ruth

Recording for our IGCSE music composition and performance assignment was different, but also fun. My classmate, Joey, and I were prepared for recording because we had previously recorded songs with our teacher, Mr Adgemis, for our band, “6SN”. However, recording for coursework felt more serious.

As the date of our recording neared, I started practising more and more because I was beginning to get a bit nervous. At first, I was just going to play by myself, but then Joey needed a piece to play, as well, so we decided that she would accompany me. We scrambled to find sheet music for the piece, and when we finally found it, we only had about two days to practice. However, we ended up doing a great job!

The actual recording of the piece was not that difficult. Mr Adgemis set up all of the recording equipment, so we just had to play the piece. He suggested that we practice it a few more times before we started recording because he wanted us to get the most out of the piece that we could.

When recording a piece, it’s not the best idea to have other people in the room as they might make noise, so we made sure that the room was empty except for us. Mr Adgemis gave us one bar in and then we had to start playing. When you’re recording you obviously can’t talk, therefore Joey and I had to look at each other quite frequently. We had to feel the beat of the music and hear the piece in our heads. We played the selection well the very first time, which was great.

It was actually more relaxed than I thought it was going to be. Even though it was a graded assignment, and despite all the recording equipment, because it was only Mr Adgemis, Joey, and I in the room, it felt like we were playing for fun.

Thinking back to the first time I recorded something I was much more nervous. That was for our band’s song, “Waterfall”. I was scared that I was going to make a mistake, and I actually did make a lot of mistakes the first time (probably because I was so anxious), but Mr Adgemis let me record it in parts so that I could take a break in between. Anytime I record something, Mr Adgemis is always very patient and does not put pressure on me at all. He lets us re-record things if we need to, and that really helps. I realised that it was the pressure I was putting on myself that was causing me to make mistakes, so after I loosened up a bit, I learned that playing is much easier. 


Joey

Ruth and I, as well as our classmate, Isabella, also helped with the recording for our other classmate, Hannah’s, (Year 11) IGCSE music composition. It was challenging to accomplish, but hey, it’s music -- so it was still enjoyable.

Hannah already had all of the different parts of the music printed out for us beforehand, so Isabella, Ruth, and I received our music relatively early which allowed us to practice before our first rehearsal, which was great. However, I must say that it was a little disconcerting to practise the composition that Hannah had written because she, the actual composer of the song, was there to hear us play (normally when we’re practising songs, the composer isn’t exactly there to hear you play).

At first, I felt as if I was playing the rhythm wrong, playing the notes off key, and all-in-all just not getting it right. We talked about it afterwards and agreed that it felt a little strange. Sure, the composition sounded amazing, and it was an honour that we got to play it, but for some reason, it felt a bit weird. Thankfully, after one or two more practices we gradually got used to this feeling. Hannah was also very supportive and kept telling us that we were doing very well.

Finally, it came to the day where we had to record the composition. The composition was going to be sent to Cambridge and graded meticulously by professionals. Once this thought occurred to me, I felt very nervous. I knew that my performance could directly affect the grade that Hannah would get for her IGCSE exam. Admittedly, we could re-record our parts if needed, but it would be best if we could record the piece in one try.

I went up to record first, putting on the headphones that amplified the sound of my violin so I could clearly hear what I was playing. Once I got over my anxiousness, I found that recording the composition was exciting. We (Ruth and I) did have some experience recording with professional equipment, so doing this wasn’t anything new, but it was still fun. There were backing tracks also playing in my headphones that were computer generated. Having the tracks playing made me feel a lot more confident, and it improved my playing because I felt as if I could play louder and more expressively - although it must’ve sounded slightly strange to the people watching, who couldn’t hear anything except for the part I was playing.

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