Becoming A Better Musician

One of the most popular questions people ask me is “How can I become a better musician (or producer)?”  People ask for recommendations on tutorials they can watch, or articles they can read, or they want me to listen to their tracks and tell them what I think they need to work on.

Here’s the thing though, none of that stuff is going to make you a better producer.  I’m not saying there isn’t a need for tutorials and the like, just that reading or watching something about making music is only going to help so much.  They’re a good way to learn new techniques, but you still have to gain the knowledge to know when (and more importantly, when NOT to) use them.

Unlike what many people think, there’s no one secret or group of music-making secrets that’s going to make you an awesome writer, if only someone would share them with you.

 

So then, how does someone become better at writing and producing music?  Here’s a few tips I would offer:

– Practice.  Yes, simple, and the answer no one likes, but the truth is nothing will make you better at writing songs than just…. writing songs.  From start to finish, the more you write songs, the better you get at knowing how to apply different techniques or tools to help you create the music you want.   The more time you put into it, the faster you’ll learn, no way around this.  We learn by DOING, not by READING.

– Patience.  Be realistic about what it is you’re setting out to do.  Learning even a single musical instrument can take years, so it only makes sense that trying to use multiple instruments, as well as learning audio production skills is probably going to take even longer.  This isn’t a short journey, so it pays to recognize up front that it might take a few years of diligent work before you start achieve the results you want.  Just because you may be using a computer to make music, doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be easy.

– Confidence.  Nothing bothers me more than beginning producers posting a song for people to listen to, and at the same time rattling off a long list of things that are wrong with it.  Don’t focus on the negative aspects of your current ability to write music.  You have your own unique focus and goals that are different from other musicians, so have some confidence in what it is you’re doing.  Be proud of the things you DID achieve and improve on in your new song, otherwise this will be something you just get frustrated with very quickly.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to enjoy the PROCESS of creating music more than the supposed rewards.  That guideline more than anything will serve you the most on your journey to becoming a better producer.   If you approach each day in the studio, or each writing session, with enthusiasm and simply enjoy the act of making music, you’re far more likely to develop your own musical voice, and ultimately become a better musician as well.

4 Replies to “Becoming A Better Musician”

  1. Great post and so true!

    I have to admit I’m one of those producers who sadly gets stuck into looking at what tutorials are out there to solve a problem, long before I try solve it myself. And it shows….

    The instant gratification and apparent get rich quick stories of skrillex, avicii and the like keep us thinking there is a quick scheme to success and it’s sad. It’s also robbing us of the pure enjoyment of creating music in the first place which is, presumably, why we started it as a hobby.

    it’s weird, when we go to university/college, we know that it’s years of study combined with experince that makes us capable, experienced and creative in our craft. Yet with music production, we seem to view it as a quick win.

  2. I think your take on practice/patience is spot on. A lot of folks give inspiration or creativity too much credit when it’s really about doing the work, consistently and often. Stephen King said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” And Edison wrote “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

    I read interviews with songwriters I admire, and they often talk about hits they wrote in ten minutes, and that becomes the story that lots of young artists take to heart. They DON’T mention the many years honing their craft that it took to get to that point. Double that for most producers.

    On your third point, I wish people had a little LESS confidence in posting stuff! 😀 Kids, take some time to develop your skills (writing AND producing) and make something that needs no explanation or apology, and if that takes years, so be it. When you can put your track into a mix of your favorites and are MOSTLY happy with it, THEN post it, I’ll be a lot happier to listen and comment!

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