This is the scenario. You gathered some material in the course of weeks, months, maybe years. You scheduled a studio, you persuaded collaborators to join you, your energy is high. You’re ready to go. You head into the week. Things start to get cooking.
And then – the energy drops, ears get tired, cell phones, Instagram and other distractions start intervening, work is left untouched. And rightfully so. The whole process is demanding across a multitude of senses. Ears should get tired – they are in action nonstop.
It doesn’t mean the process will cringe, crumble and die. You just have to learn to deal with these varying phases of productivity, and, most importantly, identify them as temporary. As sequences.
Because that’s what intense studio phases are about. Sequences of high-mid-low energy sprints or slumbers, where individual work-styles and stamina are confronted with alternate realities. Of what it means to create, to work collectively. Sometimes even single-mindedly.
Here are some strategies to help you fire up your studio week – and they are pretty easy to implement.
Take care of the tracker
While strumming chords out all day or recording perfect snare hits can be incredibly demanding, the first person to seriously tire is probably going to be the tracker – meaning engineer with a constant focus on a lighted screen.
Make sure to ask your tracker in regular intervals how he or she is doing. Sometimes people forget to take breaks, especially when the mood is high. But a studio work is like any other productive camp. Resources are limited.
That’s why you should always keep in mind the strain connected to hour-long DAW usage.
Demonstrate empathy, and it will be acknowledged.
Embrace the “everything-goes” attitude
Some things are totally within your control. Your own preparation. Musically and physically. Your mindset, the way you prep your collaborators. The way you stack the fridge. Stuff like that.
Other things are – let’s be honest – almost completely out of your control. What ideas just happen to flow into the creative space or booth. What nuances are captured, produced. How music is conceived in an upward spiral of to-and-fro.
By embracing the “everything-goes” attitude, you establish a yin-and-yang of high expectancy and realistic anticipation. Letting things flow enables you to loosen up.
Important – try to share your attitude with others. It’s great to establish an inner stoicism. It’s even greater to pass it over to others. A week of shared studio work is so much more than just the musical outcome – or lack thereof.
If it plays out right, it’s always a learning experience, a process of growth.
Set food on a pedestal
That’s right. Food is more than nourishment. It can be the lifeline of any studio session or weeklong endeavor. Never, ever – let me repeat that – never, ever underestimate the importance of food, and especially shared meals.
And even though it might seem hard at times, try to make meal-times music-free times. Even if – or especially because – your head is still buzzing with ideas and concepts, you should take this time to completely zone out.
Use Mealtime aw meditation.
Make it a playground
Creative stimuli are immensely important. And so is a digression, playfulness and patience.
The best way to keep a studio-week flowing and productive is by creating a playground-esque atmosphere. Even if you’re the type of laser-focused, super output driven musician that just wants to create in record time, and immense amounts.
Just because you’re a complete machine in terms of musical creation, doesn’t mean that others match or even want to match that habitus. That’s why you should start working on your patience right now. Things will digress. Hopefully. That’s where the magic happens when you move beyond the blueprint. Out of the comfort zone.
Also – spell out things. Clearly. People can’t just tap into your mind. Even though it might seem extensive at times, make communication a central pillar of your shared experience.