The Actions Of A Good Assistant

slaves.jpgLast time we told you about the philosophies that go into being a good Assistant. This time we are going to talk about what those philosophies look like in practice:

  • You should be taking notes on what you’ve learned and questions you’d like to ask, at an appropriate time.
  • You should be trying to figure out how you can be helpful without getting in the way of the sessions flow. For example, if you hear the snare de-tuning mid-take, it is not your place to stop things and go tune it up. However, when you hear the engineer mention that the piano overdub is up next, it is definitely helpful to get stands and headphones run ASAP.
  • Take great notes for the Producer/Engineer. If you are in charge of recalls this is indispensable, this also helps you to learn what goes into getting tones. When something needs to be punched at a later date, you can save the day with a great recall. 
  • If someone mentions being hungry, it is your job to present them with the Menu Book instantly. You must take specific notes on the order, making sure they are repeated back to you on the phone. At the pick up location you then need to check that every piece of the order is in there. If you mess this up, the session may grind to a halt. If a cranky, under-fed musician has no dinner, they can easily throw a tantrum and complain about not nailing a part because of hunger.
  • Having a singer set up with everything they need to be comfortable (untangled cables, clean environment, water, tea, a good headphone mix) before the Vocalist enters booth is a major Brownie Point winner. 
  • Be quiet during the session! Tapping to the beat or picking up a guitar/singing while people are working can get you instantly fired. Keep conversations to a minimum when they are with in earshot of those working. 
  • Do not offer your production ideas in front of the band, it is acceptable to suggest things when out of the band’s earshot, but stopping the flow of the session can make the “too many chefs’ in the kitchen” saying a reality. The last thing any session needs is a Assistant offering cymbal reverse effect suggestions.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.