It was a Friday night, and I found myself, once again, sitting alone in my dorm room, alternating between staring at my much-too-blank score and at the dusty keys of my keyboard. Making progress on my midterm composition project seemed impossible. I’d never even written a string quartet before. How was I supposed to write my first one in three weeks? And it wasn’t like I could spend the entire day working on it for three weeks—I had fifteen other credit hours of course work to deal with on top of daily two-hour piano practicing.
Musicians always seem to wonder how much practice is “enough.” An hour a day? Two? Three? As many as you can physically tolerate?
Well, there’s no simple answer. I’ve heard some experts say no more than two, and others have said four is just right. And then there’s the 10,000-hour rule that says it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Break that down, and it comes out to be about three hours a day for ten years. (Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers for more on the 10,000-hour rule.)
Too many composers and songwriters just sit around and wait for creativity to happen. But the truth is that, most of the time, by making yourself write, you inherently have to be more creative to be able to put something on the paper in the first place.
I used to be the kind of composer that just waited around, and I often moved onto new pieces whenever I hit the “barrier.” I used to think that forcing yourself to be creative stifled creativity, but now I see otherwise. Continue reading “Composer’s Block: Pushing Past the Walls”
After several months of work, I have finally finished a song I wrote called “I Am Free.” It’s by far the best pop or rock song I’ve ever written, and it’s definitely the best mix I’ve ever made, too. (I’m still waiting for a few things before I can upload it, but in my next post, I’ll probably have it uploaded and I can talk about it more.) Emotionally, “I Am Free” took a lot out of me to write. I’ve put so much into this one song, but now I’m done. So I ask myself: “Now what?”
When you’re mixing, sometimes you just can’t get out of the studio; every time you think you’re done, you always hear something else that needs to be fixed, so you keep listening and tweeking over and over again until you reach exhaustion. Recently, I wrote a poem about it because I thought it would be funny: Continue reading “The Ballad of the Mixdown”