THE ESSENTIAL MUSICIAN’S TOOLS: ACCOUNTABILITY & RECORDING

In a chat with a musician friend today I found myself responding to
his questions with both biblical but also practical input.

In very brief, I shared the following points:

Like a sports team, church, coffeehouse or business staff or any other
group of people who share a common interest and at least generally a
common goal there are several ongoing discussions that must happen for
true unity.

Unless one or more people bring practical leadership skills and
good/open communication to the group dis-organization is likely.

As on a sports team, not all are natural scorers. Some are better
defenders, some better at linking front and back (in soccer,
“midfielders”) and some are better with hands than feet (in football,
perhaps kickers as opposed to wide receivers) or goalies as opposed to
forwards.

Not all have the attitude, aptitude, or natural ability to protect the
goal, likewise to spin and score.

My point is that someone or group of someones -as well as at least a
good number of the rest of the people involved- have to agree that you
or I are at our best in this or that position, serving as part of the
team in this or that role, etc..

It’s a judgment call and I frankly don’t think there is any way around
such a reality.

What has this to do with music?

You may be a singer, but not the best at “lead singing”. You may play
excellent lead guitar but not so much when it comes to songwriting.
You may be a better drummer than a bass player but perhaps you WANT to
play bass… and the others aren’t going to agree with what you want.

Communication- and for serious Christians, stuff like knowing your own
gifts and abilities, humility and the willingness to drop your
defenses, kind and open discussion about how the band, team or
whatever group BEST benefits via your presence are part of the deal.

But it’s at this very intersection that healthy, honest but -kind-
communication breaks down.

A person may live most of their life hopping from place to place and
group to group just because they aren’t willing to face their best
offering or due to the fact others aren’t good at communicating truth
to them or both.

Solutions?

For the Christian, prayer, honest assessment of one’s offerings
whether good, better, best or not-so-good! And then the title of this
blog: recording.

There are so many good and free digital recording programs these days
that it’s nearly crazy not to make use of them. Why, in the context of
what I’ve said here so far?

Like a camera, audio recordings don’t lie. You can use (Mac) Garage
Band, (Windows, Linux) Audacity or any number of Android or
Ipod/Iphone/Iwhatever:) recording programs.

But the most useful programs allow you to use several mics and each
person in the band can record at each (or most) practice sessions and
all can listen not only to things like whether the tempo seems to
really fit the song and band, but the pitch (for vocals as well as
instruments), the basic song arrangements and indeed, whether THAT is
THE BEST bass part, guitar part(s), vocal approach, harmonies working
(or not) and so forth.

Sometimes simple works best. Sometimes a simple part brings a unity to
the song, sound and feel of the tune that an “ultra COOL” riff messes
up. Sometimes a complex part is needed. Judgment calls. Communication.
Humility. The ability to work as a team and face the music (pun
intended) is how excellence happens. It’s really not as mysterious as
some think!

As with a camera, you may love or hate the look, but that’s how you
look at that angle…

With audio, soloing a track up and really paying close attention as to
how it works or doesn’t with the other parts is a huge lesson in our
strengths, weaknesses, what needs work and who brings what to the
table.

Who knows, you might even end up taking up a different instrument. That’s ok!!

Let’s also admit that sometimes we want to put a song on a cd or in
our live setlist not because it’s a great song but due to loving OUR
part in it. The opposite is also true- we dislike and want to drop the
song because we don’t particularly like our part… the song may be
brilliant… but it’s not about the Lord, others or the song… it’s
about “us”, about “me” and so our judgment is not based on quality but
rather on “me”. Not good and such motives shouldn’t win the day when
selecting songs.

Some seven times the term “skill” and associated words in context of
music-making/playing is found in the Old Testament.

Let’s learn with one another how to bring our best offerings to God
and the world- and be willing to make changes as needed so our
offerings reflect both integrity and excellence.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

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2 thoughts on “THE ESSENTIAL MUSICIAN’S TOOLS: ACCOUNTABILITY & RECORDING

  1. Great advice all around, Glenn. One’s giftings and skills usually rise to the top and are recognized for what they are, at least by wise people! "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:" Rom. 12:6A little microcosm of this is something that occurs pretty regularly in the studio. I’ll be working on the ‘big picture’, which is the whole soundscape of drums, bass, wall of guitar, how they interrelate, subtractive EQ to allow each part to be distinct and yet gel together- and yet for one person in the band their entire focus and anxiety is over one little ‘cool’ part they did and making sure it *pops* out of the mix!There’s gotta be a metaphor in there somewhere for local Church polity… (o:Blessings, bro!

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