Lessons Learned in the Studio: Part 1 – The Basics

OK, I have to be honest. This is the first part of a series of which I have no idea what the final count will be. We are about halfway through the recording process only to be followed by the mixing and mastering processes.  As you can see, there is a fair bit of distance before we hit the end zone.

Since this is the first album I’ve ever recorded in a studio and not in the comfort of my own home, there has been a very steep learning curve.

This first installment will cover some of the shorter basics. Longer, more in-depth lessons will be covered in separate blogs.

Without further ado:

You’re not alone!

It’s true. You have a team in place, let them do their jobs. For so long, I’ve been the only horse in a one-horse operation when it came to my music career. Hmmm…let me think for a minute…hmmm…how far did that get me? Exactly nowhere.  True story.

Then suddenly, something bizarre happened. I decided to take a whole-hearted leap of faith. I stepped down from a fairly comfortable day job and made music my main priority. Because of that, I had to do some things I wasn’t quite comfortable doing. These weren’t things that were morally or ethically uncomfortable, but personally uncomfortable.

For example, I took a song that I knew wasn’t ready to be heard by anyone that wasn’t me or very close in my personal circle and posting it in a group and asking “What do you guys think?”

The answer came from one person who saw through the imperfections, the flaws and the bedroom recording. And that answer was “Yes! This has potential.” Timothy Buss (TimothyBussMusic.com) has since become my producer/mentor/handler. Yes. I. Need. A. Handler.

From there, everything else fell into place. After months of talking with David Sykut (DavidSykutRecording.com) and Jeremy Papay (JeremyPapay.com) for months, we finally had dates, contracts and a plan.  OK – I lied. First, I’d been talking to Dave for years and second, THEY had a plan – not me. I’m still just the crazy redhead that flies by the seat of her pants.

Margie Mackrell (https://www.facebook.com/21SevenPhotography) and Rob Carson were already on board supplying some incredible photos.

Margie had previously introduced me to Dana Sheehan (LittleBirdie.Agency) without whom my website would never be as awesome as it is.

It took just one random song posting to bring an entire team together.  Another random night of too much wine with a friend got me the brilliant idea to call Katrina Levendoski as my new singer. Trust random. It’s sometimes your best friend.

Pay it forward!

Or at least try. One of the biggest lessons I ever learned while teaching was that teaching was one of the best ways to learn. I often created lesson plans based around subjects I was struggling to learn. In answering my students’ questions and having to explain the concepts, the subject would become clearer within my own mind.

I had the opportunity to take 2 young, up-and-coming musicians with me into the studio. Not only did I learn, so did they. And they are a bit further along in their budding careers. Did that help me at all? Probably not. Did it hurt me at all? Not one bit. Stop thinking about yourself for a minute and think about someone else. Kindness doesn’t cost a cent.

Perfect is the enemy of really good.

No. I’m not giving my older brother credit for that one, even though technically he IS the one who told me.  But still…he’s my brother!

When I got my first reference track, I heard every mistake I made. I wanted to rerecord it in the worst way. Tim didn’t think it was necessary. Dave didn’t think it was necessary. “I KNOW! I’ll play it for some of the pickiest people I know.” And they didn’t think it was necessary, either. GRRRR!

I acquiesced. As we continued layering parts on top of parts, all of those glaring mistakes were swallowed by the rest of the music. Point taken, guys…point taken!

There are still some things that need to be fixed, but they can be fixed.

You can never be practiced enough.

For many weeks, I played every guitar part 3-4 times a day. And then I went into the studio and tried to play with Jeremy, who by the way is NOT Logic Drummer.

That didn’t go so well. At least not from my part. It felt like Jeremy knew my songs better than me. And in part, he did because of how I was practicing.

I had the Logic Pro file on my laptop. So when I practiced, I had the Logic File up and playing. Which means I had a visual cue as to when the parts were changing.  I was also muting parts that were unnecessary so I didn’t have to play with the whole thing and I wasn’t as distracted.

So you can bet this changed how I rehearse. It worked. During the second session, I laid down 2-1/2 songs in less time than it took to lay down 1-1/2 in the first session.

Well music fans – that’s all for now. As I said earlier, this will be a multipart series of indeterminate length.

Until next time – Rock On!

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