Eliminate the Excuses

Posted August, 12th 2014

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

Everyone needs help from time to time, and when we are attempting something difficult is usually one of those times.

Rather than admit that something is challenging and asking for help (or even better just admitting to yourself that struggling isn't failure, but rather natural and acceptable) we tend to fire up the "Excuse Machine".

(When it would be far better to fire up the "Everything Will Be Alright Machine" instead.)

No one wants to feel like a failure or a loser, but coming up short when trying something difficult is not failure.

Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor, is attributed with a quote that I believe sums up this struggle beautifully.

While searching for the perfect filament material for use in his incandescent light bulb, he said:

"I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once.

I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.

When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Myth Busting - Home Studio Style

So take it from Tom Edison, there's nothing wrong or unusual about coming up short.

How does this relate to the home studio experience?

After all I'm sure you didn't click on this page to hear about incandescent light bulb words of wisdom... or did you?

Either way - It's time to refocus the conversation to the popular things we tell ourselves in the home studio arena.

Things that may or may not be true, but simply serve as a self-imposed barrier to achieving what we want, which is to:

Record Songs at Home!

Let's start by addressing some of my favorite excuses and misconceptions: 

Excuse 1 - I'm too old / too young to begin this hobby

Huh?!?  You think there is some magical age when all this is easy and makes perfect sense.  

No Way!

The younger you are, the earlier start you get on learning the skills and concepts you need.

The older you are, the more practical experience you have to leverage against when starting off.

There's no shortcut to becoming familiar with this and trying things out for yourself (Yes, seemingly 10,000 times just like with the light bulb analogy).

But familiarity comes as a function of time spent learning, not as time spent on the Earth.

Every passing moment is another chance to get started today, no matter your age.

Excuse 2 - Only professional musicians make recordings

Judges?!?  Oooh sorry we can't accept that answer.

First of all, that would be no fun.  Secondly, if that was true... then I'd have no reason for having this site.

But since I DO have a reason for having this site, it must also be true that ANYONE can make recordings at home!

While this may have been true in the 1950's it is definitely no longer the case.

(Also, it turns out a lot more has changed since the 1950's such as landing on the moon, nuclear submarines, and Facebook... all crowning achievements and in that order of significance.)

Creating a home studio is not hard once you understand the basic functionality and interaction of the equipment.

Learning to use it is up to you (and oh by the way) is a helluva lot of fun!

Excuse 3 - Setting up a music recording studio is expensive

False! Like any hobby worth its salt (camping, traveling, spelunking, etc.) the sky is the limit in terms of how much you could spend.

But it's possible to build a home studio on nearly any budget.

I'll help you determine where it's best to splurge and where its best to save.

Sure, you may have to make choices about how to prioritize your funds, and maybe you can't get everything at once.

But that may not be a bad thing as it may give you time to slowly build up experience with what you do have, so that when you do add to your setup, you have a strong foundation to build from.

Another excuse bites the dust (with the classic Queen anthem* playing in the background).

*Which, of course, is "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen (1975)

Which leads us to...

Excuse 4 - Creating a home recording studio SOUNDS hard, so it must really BE hard

Ahhh my dear lad or lassie!

Soon you will see how easy it is to develop a setup uniquely suited for your needs.

Though at first the terminology may sound daunting, I'll explain everything in plain English so you can gain confidence with "studio talk".

I'll even walk you through the basics and give you the tools to get started with your design today!

Also remember that everything is hard before it's easy.

Once you break everything down into manageable pieces, it becomes much more easy to handle.

How Do I Learn More?

I believe this website is a great place to start.

The pages I've created for the site can be broken down into 2 different types.

The first being:

 "This is exactly what to do.  Now just do what I say"

People tend to like those because it gets them started in the shortest possible amount of time.

But I prefer the second type, which is:

"This is fundamentally how it works.  Now draw your own conclusion"

Pages that fall into the 2nd category are shown below, and I've listed them in what I believe to be their order of usefulness to the beginner.

If you read and understand these basic things, the rest will fall into place far more easily when the time comes in the future.

Plus you never can anticipate how knowledge of one aspect of music, basic physics, or the studio can help solidify another, seemingly independent, elusive concept that is giving you headaches.

Even though these concepts will seem unique and independent at first, you'll soon see how everything weaves together as part of the same fabric. 

Physics of Sound

Audio Signals


MIDI Basics

Recording Basics

Gain Staging

Any More Excuses?!?

I'd love to say, "I didn't think so", but I'm sure there are.

And that's ok.  It's not realistic to never have any doubts or setbacks.

Just remember that:

  1. it's NOT easy
  2. it IS worth it and...
  3. you CAN do it.

Our good friend, Thomas Edison, also had this to say regarding failure:

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up"

Don't become one of those unfortunates.

Push through the hard times, celebrate your successes, and above all try to have fun and enjoy what you're doing.

And when you feel excuses and frustration start to build up inside, someday you'll be able to blast them away with your hyper-warp-sonic-plasma-cannon (still to be invented by Edisons' great-great-grandchildren).

Until then... maybe just flick on the nearest available light bulb for a spark of inspiration.

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