Practice. Seriously. Do it.
You wouldn’t believe the number of times an artist has brought in an unrehearsed musician to a recording session. It’s a time-waster to be sitting in the studio with a bunch of people waiting around while the guitarist figures out what chords to play.
Ditto for singers: Know how to look after your voice. Know your lyrics. Know how you’re going to sing each part of the song. Know your harmonies. Come prepared.
What’s this got to do with producers and preproduction?
A producer can help the artist with the rehearsal process. In many cases, the artist is quite capable of organising musicians, working out parts for them and conducting rehearsals. In some cases, however, the artist needs a little help.
Organising musicians is something that a producer can naturally help with. Quite often, an experienced producer has a wide network of musicians to draw upon – wider than most artist’s group of friends. For specialised tasks, a producer can often find the right musician for the job.
Writing parts for musicians is also something that a producer can assist with. This can range from scoring string sections to jamming with a bassist. The producer’s experience in working with a wide range of music provides the perspective and knowledge of how to make best use of musicians for a project. A producer with classical music training is especially useful if classical musicians – such as string players – are to be used on the project. Classical musicians often require notated music to be provided. Alternatively, an arranger can be hired to score the parts.
Conducting rehearsals is another activity that a producer can do well. The producer’s skill and experience in project management makes a big difference to the smooth and effective running of a rehearsal. Rehearsals involving several musicians also has the added complication of having to coordinate mutually-available session times and booking rehearsal studio time. Again, having the producer take care of this allows the artist to focus on the song and the performance.