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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Dedication

If you love making music then you'd almost certainly want to be able to do something audio related as a career. Whether thats as a teacher (shout out to my colleagues at SAE Institute) or as a proffessional producer, studio engineer etc. this requires above all other things dedication.

We've all been guilty of laziness at certain times, because dedication is one of the hardest things to maintain. However, if you truly want to succeed as a teacher, as a proffessional producer, musician touring the world or whatever, then you cant simply do it when you feel like it. That's what you do (more or less) when you have a job, not a career. A job lets you knock off at 5:00pm and go for a beer, where a career demands more of your time. None of the producers or musicians who's music you admire got to where they are by anything other than hard work and dedication. They didnt just write music when their friends weren't busy.

So how do you stay dedicated?

1. Get Into a Routine

Beginning work as a teacher recently, i've benefitted a few times when explaining concepts to students from the sheer amount of time that I spend making music. At least I know what i'm talking about, and that only leaves me with the challenge of explaining it correctly.

One of the ways I maintain this level of time spent making music is by getting into a routine. I organise around 3 to 4 sessions a week where I do nothing but make music. These sessions last most of a day, and I eliminate all distractions and just spend time messing with sounds, arrangements, whatever. It's important to spend this time doing something music related, even if you're not necessarily finishing and putting out a track. Make sure other things in your life fit around this schedule. I'm only just learning to get into a routine with blog writing, but the same principles apply.

2. Just Start...

There's a million resons not to sit down and make music. Maybe you just need a coffee first. Then you realise the dishes need to be done so you decide to get that out of the way. Suddenly you feel hungry so you cook some food. You sit down to eat, turn on the TV and there's a South Park marathon on, but it's okay because you'll just watch until the end of the episode... Pretty soon the whole day is a writeoff. Sound familiar?

Being creative is hard work. Engineering a track is hard work. Both these processes are involved in making electronic music, as they are with other types of music. When you get into the frame of mind I just described, just start instead. Once you've started you'll pretty soon get the ball rolling on something, whether it's sound design or arranging a full track. Pretty soon you'll be so involved in what you're doing that you won't even give the South Park marathon on TV or any other pointless distraction a second thought. If you do get hungry or whatever, then take a break after you've started, it will be much easier to go back to it than it would have been if you procrastinated.

3. Set Up a Creative Space

I never saw the value in this until recently, but it can really be helpful to have a quiet space with some inspiration in it. Now that I have such a space, it motivates me much more walk in to that space and start making music. The room itself is really inviting in terms of look and feel, and I want to be in that room as often as I can.

More importantly, when i'm in that room I want to make music because thats the room's purpose. It has no other function other than to serve as a creative / studio space.

4. Maximise Your Most Productive Hours

If you are the most productive first thing in the morning, then organise to get up early. Having a morning that starts at 6:00am rather than sleeping in until 10:00am is going to allow you to get a lot more done. Similarly if you work best at night, then allow yourself to sleep in until midday so that you can maximise those late night hours. Consider taking a nap if that helps, just do what you can to extend your most productive periods, even if only by a couple of hours. You'll be much more productive in the long run that way.

5. Work at 80% of Your Capacity

I used to get bursts of motivation when it came to making music. I'd start really enthusiastic and work at 110% all the time, setting myself really optimistic goals. Then i'd start to burn out and fall short of my goals, and eventually i'd stop and take a break for a week or two. I found that by working at a steady and consistent rate, I can stay motivated for much longer meaning i'm more productive. This means making music during routine sessions, but not overdoing it. After you've spent your allocated time being creative, force yourself to stop. Spend some time doing something else.

6. Stay Interested

You may be bored of the genre of music you're making at the moment. One thing you can do is switch genres. Try something else, and experiment. You'll learn new techniques along the way which will be useful later. Stay interested in the act of making music and being creative even if you are bored of what you usually make. Another way you could tackle it is to make music using a different DAW, or using a different softsynth. Or you could change the order you make music in. If you like to start with drums, write a tune around a sample you like instead, leaving the drums until later in the process. Just keep the process itself fresh.





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