Another season, another recording session for my 2015 solo piano album.
It was a pretty hot fall day, even though the summer was technically over. In our 1928 house, this meant that between every few takes we had to cool off by blasting the window air conditioning unit and turning on a cavalry of small fans.
This being the third session of the year, I was glad to note that my targets were more modest (and realistic) in terms of how many songs we were going to get down per day and how long it would take! I’d also come to terms with the fact that at some point, it would be best to just stop for the day. No matter how many times I keep pushing for a good take, after 6 or 7 hours straight the performance quality simply won’t be high enough.
So this session I aimed for a manageable two recordings a day – one high energy piece and one slower, delicate piece.
An interesting thing happened on the energetic piece today (Not A Secret). I’ve attempted this piece in both previous sessions and failed to come away with anything good enough, so in anticipation of today’s session I diligently practiced with a metronome, planning to have it ticking in my ear during the recording. After the first several takes, the sound engineer and I agreed that the metronome was not actually helping! I was rushing and delaying little 8th notes here and there and the piece was missing an overall flow. Removing the metronome immediately fixed the problem. Who’d have known?
Today we started with the slow piece (Selkie Crossing) because I knew there were still several composition decisions to make. It took five hours to make this 6-minute recording, but with helpful input from Chris we got it to a good place. He says it feels like a 4-minute piece, which is good! (You don’t generally want pieces to feel longer than they are )
After picking up a year of organ lessons from the Potomac Organ Institute, I’ve been able to accept organ gigs, which tend to come up from time to time.
Last weekend, I was invited to play organ for a church conference in New York, in the illustrious First Church of Christ, Scientist – across the street from Central Park on 68th.
This is by far the largest organ I’ve performed on, and I did my best to take full advantage of it! There are so many things on an organ that you can’t do on a piano! Looking forward to the next time
I had the grand pleasure of playing piano for the Washington Nationals Dream Gala a couple of weeks ago – and what a night it was! Most of the players were there, along with spouses/significant others, several hundred people, and the Presidents! (The huge president heads that you see running around during baseball games.)
There was a silent auction and lots of mingling going on as I played background jazz standards, blues … and Aladin’s “A Whole New World,” requested by pitcher Gio Gonzales.
The Presidents would come by every once in a while, and at one point Teddy hopped up on stage to air jam next to me. Luckily, the moment was captured and tweeted by a journalist
— Bethany Young Hardy (@bethanyhardy) June 7, 2015
Two weekends ago we completed the second recording session for my 2015 solo piano album. It was smoother than our first session in January, mostly I think because I knew better what to expect in terms of recording on my own piano … and also because we didn’t have any surprise piano issues (The first session brought with it some mysterious clicks and a double-hitting note!)
I’m also appreciating how the recording process is making me a better musician. The thing is, the music sounds different when you’re playing compared to when you listen to the playback. But after going back and forth enough, I’m starting to be able to hear how the recording sounds WHEN I’m playing instead of only afterwards. That is helpful.
The other aspect that I’m juggling is focusing on the technical aspects of playing while still preserving the musicality of the song. This is where the listening comes in – the better that I can perform technically while also listening to the overall story of the piece, the better it comes out.
I still have a long way to go for sure, but I’m grateful to be making progress in this new performance and recording territory
It has already been 10 years to the month since I produced my first CD – a contemporary music album called Save It for a Rainy Day.
Earlier this year I spent a solid two weeks notating sheet music from six of the tracks (something I’ve been wanting to do for a while), and as I announced in March, this solo piano sheet music is now available on Watchfire Music.
Big thanks to The Balcom Group for having us play a couple of weeks ago in Alexandria! I had a great time (along with Mark Saltman and Greg Discher) playing an evening of jazz standards at the Westin.
We were even joined by one of the guests who sang The Girl for Ipanema in Portuguese (with an excellent accent from what we could tell!).
This beautiful wedding was held at the illustrious Whittemore House in Dupont Circle, home of the Women’s National Democratic Club and now a fantastic wedding venue. Big congratulations to Kelly & Stephen, and thanks for having me!
Published by Frost Media Productions