I’ve got some good news and bad news about human nature, especially in context to doing something new, like recording music.
The good news is that you’re pretty awesome. The music you listen to is great, inspired, well-produced music. You know what sounds good, and what doesn’t. I talked about it in the mixing article a bit, but your ears are tuned to know what sounds good. You have great taste, and can critique a song, someone’s playing style, whether or not they’re in time or tune.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that your brilliant self can often be undermined by things outside of your control. Your ears fatigue naturally, and you can’t hear the nuances between tones. Your love for a project sweeps you up with it, and you stop seeing its weaknesses because love is blind.
Whether or not these facts that I’m spouting about you are true objectively or only subjectively, I know objectively that you can make great things. Think I’m blowing self-empowering fairy dust all over you? Check out this video.
Ira Glass talks about storytelling, but the same is true of all creation. The gap that you have between the song that you hear in your head and the song that comes through your headphones isn’t caused by the fact that you’re a dumb, worthless git. It’s a gap in your skill. You haven’t yet mastered the art of taking the music in your brain and putting it into MP3 form.
You can’t close that gap unless you sit down and make something. If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to fail, you’ll never find the opportunity to succeed. I’ve recorded over 100 songs, but I’ve shared only 6 of them with a human being who isn’t me. I can guarantee that if I had given up on song 35, I never would have made it here today.
6 songs isn’t something huge to boast about, but it’s 6 songs more than I would have made if I had given up after my first pitiful attempts. Do your MP3 sound horrible today? That’s fine, as long as you try to improve with each new recording.
You can close your skill gap. Remember, your skill is a process not a product – you will always be able to move forward and improve yourself. There isn’t a ribbon that you tear or a line that you cross that tells you you’re proficient, successful, or a master. There’s just tomorrow, another step you can take towards or away from closing that gap.
Keep walking, friend.
I’m here a step or two ahead (or behind…), walking the same road of improvement. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. You can always send thoughts, suggestions, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org as well 🙂 Thanks for reading!