For this recording, I travelled down to Cornwall, specifically to Trewirgie Junior School in Redruth. This particular recording was slightly different from our typical school recordings in that the job involved capturing audio books rather than singing.
Of course the basic principle of recording remained the same, although it did require a different set of microphones and stands. In many ways, recording an audio book requires quite a lot less kit than we would normally take to record a school singing. Nevertheless, with Cornwall being 200 miles from our Wiltshire studios, the safest option was to take more kit than was potentially needed just in case.
The previous evening I was running a Choir in Gloucestershire (as I usually do on a Wednesday night). So it was a late drive down to Cornwall. But this seemed easier than having a few hours sleep and getting up at 4am. Leaving South Cerney at 9pm I was looking forward to a fairly quiet and uneventful drive down to Truro where I have arranged to stay the night before. Unfortunately however the journey took an hour longer than originally expected due to closures on both the M5 and A30. This meant arriving in Truro just after 1.30am. Nevertheless probably still better than getting up and 4am!
Arriving and Setting up
Having stayed overnight, just a few miles from Redruth, I was soon on my way to the school, arriving there just before 8am. The car park turned out to be a fair walk from the main reception, but fortunately nearer to the venue where the recording was scheduled to take place. With less kit than usual to unload everything was soon in the music room and it took approximately 45 minutes to get set up.
The basic principle for recording the audio books was to recreate something similar to a Radio 4 studio in the school classroom. Each book had an average of 4 characters which meant that 4 microphones set up on a table top was ideal. One book did have more characters but never more than a few at a time so it was easy enough to swap places as we recorded.
The Recording Session
We had four books to record. All the books had been written by the pupils at Trewirgie Junior School and were being read by them. The session started just after 9am and we had allowed about an hour to read each book. The books were approximately 2000 words in length each.
Anyone who has been involved in recording an audio book or even just reading / giving a presentation will know that it’s not the easiest thing anyway. All the pupils involved were in year 6 but even so there were some quite complex words in the story.
Of course with modern recording techniques we can always redo sections in production afterwards.. Although I was conscious this book was on a tight schedule for production so there couldn’t be too much editing afterwards.
Fortunately the pupils were extremely well prepared and they all read the books and kept within the allotted schedule.
I was made very welcome at Trewirgie Junior School with regular supplies of tea and the added bonus of a very nice piece of cake!
Editing the books
As with most recordings, the bulk of the work is done when we get back to the studio. For most of our clients, schools and choirs, all they see is the day we spend on location. Most school recordings then require a further day in the studio to master and produce the final audio and then the CD. With this particular project, before we could get to that point there was a considerable amount of editing to be done.
When it comes to audio editing of any sort, there are no short cuts. Regardless of whether its music or books, everything has to be listened to carefully. In this particularly instance almost every sentence had to be adjusted and edited in some way.
As well as editing the books it was also necessary to create the artwork. Whilst we have the facility to sell all our albums online school projects are still produced as CDs. The reason for this is firstly to make it much easier for the school to sell. But equally, if not more importantly so that the pupils have a physical record of their experience in the recording studio. The artwork for the album, like all our school CDs, includes drawings from the pupils.
Why record Audio Books?
Trewirgie Junior School recorded their audio books as part of a school project. The aim is to inspire other children to read and write their own stories. Sales of the audio books which will be by CD and online will benefit the local library in Redruth.
With World Book Day occurring this week on Thursday 5 March 2020, this is the ideal time to think about how recording an audio book could benefit your school. To find out more about our recording services for schools please call us on 01225 302143. Alternatively you can click here for our contact form.