Music is possible for everyone.
A lot of you think that because you struggle with making music in the beginning or you struggle for a good amount of time,
that it just means that you’re not cut out for making music. I don’t really think that anyone’s disqualified for making music.
I definitely was not a natural in music making. In fact, it took me years and years to get anywhere. It took me a lot longer to
learn music stuff than most of my peers, but because I had chosen this as my passion, it didn’t matter to me how talented I was.
It was the one thing that I really enjoyed doing, so that gave me the ability to put the time in to get better at this art.
Nobody Starts off Great
Nobody starts off very good when they get started making music. Your first efforts are just not going to be all that great, and that’s
totally okay. If you understand that everyone goes through this period, then you’re not gonna get so hung up about it.
Also, music doesn’t have to be as technical as you might be making it. At the end of the day, especially electronic music is cut, copy,
paste, duplicate, delete, using samples, recording, editing and understanding midi & some basic processes.
The bottom line is that you’re taking ideas out of your head and you’re getting down into the computer. You don’t have to get overly
technical with all the details of what everything does. Just get an idea in your head and approximate it and get as good as you can.
You don’t need to know everything
Don’t think you need to know everything. Just go one step at a time and you will start building your process. Obviously there’s ways
that you can speed up this process, but the bottom line is don’t put so much pressure on yourself to know everything all at once.
That’s like sitting down at a piano & expecting to be able to play like Mozart or Beethoven, right? It’s just not gonna happen
like that. You shouldn’t have such high expectations of yourself in the very beginning.You can have high aspirations, but the
expectations should be in the range of what’s doable for you right now,
There are workaround to Music theory & Sound Design
A lot of aspiring producers struggle with music theory and understanding chords and keys and all that stuff. To be perfectly honest,
I’ve been in this game for 30 years and I still struggle with music theory. I don’t know it very well at all but I’ve been able to still
continue to work around that & play by ear and build my knowledge as I go.
I’ve never really had any proper training. The last couple of years, I’ve watched a few videos on music theory and gotten a hang of
a few things but most of what I do is still playing by ear and going from there. Anything that I understand, music theory wise is like
a little spice on top and it doesn’t always really work for me. What technically should be correct, doesn’t sound correct to me when
I put it down. So you just need to trust your ears. That’s the bottom line.
There’s also a lot of tools inside your DAWs that are going to allow you to have music theory workarounds. They will automatically
put what you’re playing into proper key, so you never hit a wrong note if you don’t want to. There’s a lot of tools that can help you if
you’re not a natural at playing piano.
The same goes for sound design. Sound design takes a long time, and it’s a lifelong journey just like music theory can be. If you have
the pressure of being able to just consistently create the sounds in your head, you’re gonna run into a lot of problems. My recommendation
is to just have experimental jams, where you just play with synths, move the knobs and record everything you do. Then you just cut out the
best bits. This way you’re going to get surprised by the sounds that you create. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an idea in mind
when you start, but sometimes it makes a lot of sense to just record everything you do Oftentimes, you don’t get the result you were
looking for, but you may find when you listen back that you made a lot of other amazing sounds that you would’ve never thought of.
It’s not that you shouldn’t learn some of the basic wave forms and the sounds and that sort of thing, and your attack, decay, sustain & release.
All those things should be something that at some point you get a handle on because that’s going to really help you create sounds, tones and
textures and all that sort of stuff.
Most of what you think you need to know, you don’t
Most of what you think you need to know in music making you really don’t need to know it. You only need to know about 10% of what there is
to know to get yourself started and actually to get yourself moving into direction of making better music. It doesn’t take you knowing everything
about everything to make great music.
In fact, a lot of the great producers out there, or the more popular producers, don’t know everything about everything. They just know their thing
really, really well. If they need outside help, they might bring someone in that knows something that they don’t. It’s kind of like bringing in
a session musician to play something on your song because you can’t play it yourself. Don’t think that you need to know everything. What you
want to do is find out what you’re good at and get better at better at that. Then you’ll naturally start to expand as ideas come that you’re reaching
for but allow it to be a slow process.
Next, from my personal experience, process is really the key. You’ve got the mental side of things and understanding the mental side of things
will help you understand why you get stuck. Process is a way to get unstuck because you know what step to take first, second, third, fourth.
This way you don’t need too think so far ahead. You just work on what you’re doing right in the moment. This takes a lot of stress away from
Understanding a process or steps to take that work across the board is going to be incredibly helpful. If I can do this, You can totally do this. I
struggled with everything that I now teach. I think that’s what makes me a good teacher. I still understand what it’s like to not understand.
I don’t speak in technical terms. It’s never made sense to me to try to talk above my own head or anyone else’s head. Obviously there’s a little
bit of lingo that you’ll figure out as you go, but you don’t need to understand all the technical stuff. I’ve never enjoyed reading user manuals
because they just don’t speak to me in a human way. I don’t think you need to know all that stuff anyway. So just keep it simple, keep it human
keep everything on layman’s terms and whatever vocabulary works best for you to describe what’s going on is totally fine.
I started playing guitar many years ago and mainly just because I had a few friends and we wanted to start a band and none of us played any
instruments. So slowly, we all kind of picked up instruments at the same time. We started learning slowly & I never had a lesson. I only knew
that if I played two strings, like two notes apart from each other, I could play all the way up the guitar & I could make something that sounded like a chord
Anyway, I played these chords for about a year and a half and I played live shows and we did pretty good. We weren’t a great band, but it was
good enough and enjoyable enough that I kept going and then I’d run into people that would give me tips along the way. Within about 2 years,
we were selling out shows in Hollywood & building a name locally. Just start where you are & don’t stop.
I just kind of put one foot in front of the other & as I went on the journey, I learned on the way. I never felt like I needed to know more than I knew
right in that moment. I just started. Most of my ideas were really simple because my capabilities were simple. So I had to kind of break things
down into their most simplistic form. That’s how I started and just slowly built. I’m still not a great guitarist. I’m not a great keyboardist.
I’m just not a great musician all around. I’m kind of more of a non-musician that just incidentally happens to make music, and you can be in
the same way and still make great music without being a musician.
I definitely did not start with any natural gift at all. To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of people that start with a natural gift when they’re young,
realize that they’re good at it & because they’re good at it, it’s not a challenge. A lot of my friends who are still much better musicians than me
got bored and got onto something else.
For me, someone who did not have a natural skill, slowly ramped up but it didn’t come from any sort of natural talent. You shouldn’t expect
that of yourself either. If you have natural talent, understand that that’s a gift and try not to take that for granted. Otherwise you might lose
your scene early on before things really get exciting. I believe that having a challenge is what keeps you going. I purposely stay a little bit
ignorant when it comes to music making, because it just keeps the mystery in there for me.
You get to decide the rules of your music
You get to decide how technical your music can be. You can either be a punk band playing, you know, two or three court songs that are two,
three minutes long, like The Ramones or you can go towards your Radiohead sort of stuff or stuff that’s more complex. Or you can play metal
which requires big solos. The point is that your audience is only going to expect of you, what you’ve decided your sound is.
So if you’ve decided that you’re going to be a technical band like Rush, then of course, they’re going to listen to everything that you do technically.
If you decide that you want to be a little bit sloppier and a little bit more punk and a little more in your face and ballsy, then that’s what they’re going
to expect from you. They’re not going to get all hung up on mistakes and things like that because that’s going to be part of your sound.
No one slags Joy Division for the out of tune vocals. That is part of their sound & what makes them unique. Other bands you would expect
the vocals to nail it every time, so once again, you get to decide those rules. No one else decides it for you.
You can progress much more quickly. If you allow yourself to be teachable, if you allow yourself to be coachable that doesn’t necessarily mean
that you need to seek out a coach, however, understand that learning from someone who can help you move through your process
and through your challenges will get you there much more quickly than you can by yourself.
Don’t try to stubbornly think that you can learn everything on your own. I tried doing that for many years and I lost a lot of time because I was
so stubborn about not listening to anyone else. I kind of regret that because I think I would have accomplished a lot more, but here I am and
I’m happy to be where I am. That said, if you are reading this, I’m assuming that you want to get where you’re going faster than I got here.
So be coachable. Allow yourself to pretend that you know nothing as you take in information, and then you try it on. You see what works for
you and anything that doesn’t work for you, you put it aside.
The last thing I’d like to say here is I believe that having good taste in music is going to get you much better results than being technically great
at music. If you have both, all the better, but I think good taste in music is what really drives creativity and moves me music forward. It breaks the
rules and creates new rules that people follow.
I hope that this just helps you get over some of your fears & some of your high expectations of yourself. Just start where you’re at right now and
move step by step & you’re going to get there.
As long as you decide that you want to make music, then you’re in the game. That’s all the requirement is.
Happy music making!
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