January 23, 2014 by Don Russo
“Recording is more autobiographical than acting. It’s me – either how I’m feeling then, or once felt at some point in my life.”
Taking music lessons is a great step towards becoming a better musician; however, in order to really progress as a musician, you need to put yourself in real life situations that cause you to stretch beyond your own capacity. There is no better learning situation than going into the studio. Today, I’m going to talk about a few benefits of making a recording.
The word “record” is key here. After years of hard work, you owe it to yourself to keep a record of where you are. My friend Tom Conlon once said, “A song is a snapshot in time.” …and so is a recording. It’s unbelievable what you can learn from listening to yourself. I love going back and listening to older recordings of myself. It’s the equivalent to a height chart for your musical growth. Sometimes you will see the improvement that you have made over the years; sometimes you will find yourself remembering ideas you’ve forgotten, or maybe even remind yourself of that child-like joy we all have when we first approach an instrument.
Applying Your Skills
The studio is a place where you can gather all of your “friends” to come play. The word “friends” here is everything you’ve learned about your instrument thus far. The studio is a place where one must be creative, but also a place where it has to be accomplished in a timely manner. This pressure is healthy for musicians as it causes you to think on your feet. Even if you have already prepared your parts to come into the studio, merely setting a studio date will give you a deadline and a goal. This will force you to get yourself in gear.
Learning Your Weaknesses
I spent almost a month in a Nashville recording in a studio. I was laying down a guitar track, and the engineer said, “You are rushing the beat.” I said, “No way!” He asked me to come in and showed me where I was playing right in front of the beat lines in Protools, almost every time. It was very humbling. I learned more about playing behind the beat in one session in the studio than the rest of my learning put together! There are so many things you can learn from being in the studio: groove, tone, creativity, recording, gear, etc.
If you are a writer, take your tunes to the studio. If you are a musician, hook up with some guys and get into the studio. It is imperative to your growth as a musician. It’s almost like a camp that will hone your skills, point out what you need to work on, and you’ll leave with a stamp in time of where you are as a musician. Don’t procrastinate; go record!