Archive for the ‘Work Experience’ Category

Day 1 – Song Writing Session

Today, I attended the first of a two-day work experience session at Shabbey Road Studios. Based in Caerphilly South Wales the studio provides a range of professional musical services from song writing & recording sessions, full day multi-track recording sessions, song & track development, multimedia music and the staff there are also available for hire as session musicians.

When meeting Al Steele the producer and musical director at Shabbey Road, he instantly made me feel welcome. We had an introductory conversation whilst rearranging the piano in the recording room a good physical activity to break the ice. Booked in from 11-3pm was a singer songwriter however, the artist had cancelled around midday so by this time our conversation was flowing. It was a relaxed atmosphere, i never approached it like an interview but i was able to ask him a couple of questions id thought about earlier in relations to my Destiny Sessions project and general professional studio practice.

I see your running a valve desk as well as a digital Yamaha hybrid desk there, & how do you compare using Cakewalk Sonar to the likes of Pro Tools or Cubase and Logic?


Shabbey Road Studios is sponsored by Cakewalk Sonar & under the sponsorship Al, the producer at Shabbey Road, has access to new software releases and free annual tutorials and tech support. I asked him how that came about his reply was;

”Sonar contacted him after they came across a piece of music produced in Shabbey Road. The music also credited the software. Sonar caught wind of this and contacted him offering the sponsorship.”

Al explained that the valve desk has brought the studio its warm and authentic sound over time. We discussed the differences between digital and analogue equipment. I asked about how the digital Yamaha mixer performed in regards to a live recording studio setting as compared to a larger 30+ channel desk. I too have looked at this yamaha desk to add to my home studio. Its smart, compact and has 16 channels but 32 outputs so perfect for getting the most out of a small space.

The yamaha desk is an excellent piece of kit. Controls are easy to navigate and the onboard dynamic processing is second to none. Second hand there going for around £5/600. Running two desks he has the equivalent of 96 potential output channel routes. 

Tell me a about the history and what kind of artists you have worked with in the past?

Shabbey Road are known for there work with many famous Welsh artists from Paul Potts to ….

TBC,…….. < ()

After spending some time discussing the studio’s set up and preferred equipment i met the rest of the team at Shabbey Road.

Rob started his career at Shabbey Road also doing work experience when he was 14. He is now a post-graduate in music and technology and basically runs his own projects or produces for booked in clients upstairs in another practice space. He also plays in two bands and is available for hire as a session musician. I admired his position and we discussed the benefits of being able to make a living from what we both consider to be constructive play. 🙂

After mostly conversing on studio equipment and methods we then


Project Development and Applied Research requires some work experience to complete the module. I have been lucky to secure two placements; one with the Creative Therapies course based in Caerleon Campus & and one with ShabbeyRoad studios based in Caerphilly South Wales. I am just waiting to secure dates with Shabbey Road. images-1

Creative Therapies

I had attended one session on Thursday 19th March to introduce myself and find out what they required from my skills or services. To pass a module on their course the students are required to record some original compositions. Having none or very little experience in recording live instruments this is where i would come in and assist. Their course is based in the old university studios so I suggested to open up the space for a day or so and run it like a ‘drop in recording service on Friday 27th March. Three students had been interested and after quite a busy day i have arranged to re-open the space on the 16th April for some other students requiring some help..

Tania had a dance track for which she wanted to record a clean acapella. Using a Rode Nt1-a, A Korg interface and Cubase software we layered up her vocals with ad-libs and quickly mixed it down. I also used some basic vocal compression There was a folder of the ‘stems’ or single recorded takes that she took away with her. I asked if she was happy with the work she said yes! 🙂 I also gave her some advice on how to render .wav files instead of mp3s when  sending acapellas to producers for quality. This is what we recorded…


Vita had written a indian ragu influenced piece with a repetitive drone bass melody and improvised lead with her native instrument the Kankles. I recorded the piano with one Rode M5 and the Rode Nt1-a. I then added some compression and mixed down the two instruments. I would have used two M5 pencil microphones but i only had one working mic stand so working with what i had we recorded this.. 

Laura M-Evans had written a song using her guitar and had never recorded her voice or herself play before. I set up the Nt1-a For her vocals and placed the M5 pencil mic at the guitar. Whilst setting up she was interested in the mic placement and software so we discussed some preferred methods and i stressed the importance of mic choice & placement for quality recordings.

Laura and Jenny had written a collaboration song on the piano. The idea was to get the best possible recording we could of an ensemble piece. Using the Rode Nt-1a for Jenny main vocals and the piano had 2 Rode M5 microphones picking up the piano and Lauras harmony vocals. This is what we recorded…


I completed the work experience for the Creative Therapies Course over three separate days. I used my own equipment and gained some good experience in dealing with setting up a number of separate projects in one day. I decided to open up the studio the first two days as drop-ins and this proved difficult given that there was high interest in the recording service and students with other plans. To improve the fluidity of a busy day like this I learnt that I should have created more of a structure, maybe find out before hand how many students would like help and in that day assign a couple of hours to each project. The last day was only one persons project so schedule is something to think about when trying to see number of clients on one day. From the feedback from the students and the tutor at Creative Therapies I believe I have given them what they were asking for and to a good standard, I really enjoyed this work and it gave me some scope as to what working Destiny Sessions would be like.


Today i received a reply from Shabbey Road Studios saying it is fine to come up and sit in on a couple of sessions!

I have emailed them back with these dates as they are best suited being on half term break… 25th March – 13th April 2015.


So far i have conversed with Ali Chant, Angela Durrant and Dbs Music Bristol enquiring about possible work experience opportunities… Today i sent this email to 7 different music studios that i found on google.


My name is Anthony Fitzgerald I am 27yrs old. I am a songwriter/aspiring producer and I am writing to see if maybe I could help you…?

I am nearly finished my second year at Creative Sound & Music BA Hons degree in Newport University, part of our module we are expected to evidence some sort of work experience by the middle of May 2015. It is permitted to be a few days or literally could be just for one day/session.

What can I do for you …& why would you say yes to me?

If you were able to provide me with such an opportunity, I’m hoping my age and then my interests would encourage you. Being a mature student has allowed me to be focused on my goals, I compose music mostly on the guitar and keyboard and have a back catalogue of written tracks that I am experimenting in ‘finding my sound’. I do also own a home studio myself so possible work experience is a real learning opportunity for me, not only for practical uses but to experience the professional working atmosphere too.

I am a good listener and studio literate, experienced on most DAW’s. I record regularly in University on the SSL & Icon desk’s I can assure you I would not be in the way or a hindrance, but rather an extra pair of keen and savvy hands for a day.

If you’d like to ask me anything please don’t hesitate to reply or call me,

Kind Regards