This week I talk about touring, recording, and sleeping on the floor for a month.
There are many wonderful things about St. Louis, but for years I’ve seen the tension in this town grow as communities group themselves into different clique-like huddles based on ethnic, income, and interests. Having worked in North County for the last 9 years, it’s saddened me to see the tensions between groups erupt into violence this past weekend. It breaks my heart.
Two years ago today, I started a blog about my life as a musician. All I knew was that I wanted to share my thoughts about music, and more importantly, I wanted to help people.
I’ve been working hard to tweak my practice technique to prep myself better for the studio. Here are some ways I've found to get better at prepping yourself for recording:
1. Start slow. I’ve been starting playing my music at a speed that is just too fast to be accurate. When I slowed down my playing, it was amazing how the songs didn’t have as many mistakes “baked in” that I had to fix later.
2. Shoot for high accuracy from the beginning. Don’t settle for sloppy playing, even when you’re first working it up. Personally, I’m shooting for about 95% accuracy after the first couple of runs, and if I’m not at that level, I’m slowing it down.
3. Work the trouble spots. Don’t play through the whole song every time you practice. Spend some time working out the trouble spots early, and you’ll save tons of time in the long-run.
4. Track your speeds. Write down each practice what your speed is on your song (use a metronome). Remember, accuracy is more important than speed.
5. Record yourself. Use an iPhone or a cheap recorder. If it makes you take it more seriously, post your recording to Facebook. Just remember: it’s more about practicing recording than actually making high-quality recordings of yourself.
6. Practice concentrating. It sounds simple, but I realized that I wasn’t “grooving” my performance technique be fully concentrating during practices. Also, I was practicing in a different state of mind than I was performing in, which means I wasn't really preparing for performance correctly.
Start trying to get yourself in the same frame of mind while practicing as you are when you're performing. It may leave you a bit more fatigued at the end of practice sessions at first, but ultimately it’ll build what you need to play consistently.
This week I help a MainStage keyboard player send a click track to his own monitor, but not the FOH mixer.
We own music equipment to serve a means, not to be an end in itself. Here are 7 ways to make your performances more about your music and less about fiddling with your equipment:
• Practice pressing buttons. The quicker you are at getting the sound you want, the less you have to worry about twisting knobs during the performance.
• Pre-prep everything. Don't wait to the last second to put together your equipment – test everything at home, so it's not a distraction at the venue.
• Buy intiutive equipment . If your live rig is difficult to work with, get rid of it. Speed is everything when you're making on the fly tweaks.
• Buy quality equipment. Settling for cheap may be easier in the short term, but paying a few extra dollars for something that won't constantly need fixing saves time and a lot of headaches.
• Don't switch equipment too often. It's tempting to always buy the latest and greatest, but having equipment on stage that you're comfortable with is often more important than having all the latest bells and whistles.
• Practice using your equipment at home. Don't just program at home – set up your equipment just like you'll be using it at the venue, and practice with it frequently.
• Simplify, simplify. The fewer cables, software instruments, and keyboards you have on stage, the less likely you are to have a problem with one of them.
Sadly, most of the “networking” most musicians do simply doesn’t work. Here’s 5 mistakes musicians make all the time when networking:
I love new music gear. There’s nothing like the feel of a brand-spanking new instrument in your hand, full of possibilities. There’s just one small catch- I’m not filthy rich. Here are 6 ways I’m getting the gear I need to be successful in Nashville: