Blog: How Many Summers Have You Got Left?

How to use your time effectively in the studio      31/07/13

Tactic 4: Be kind to yourself

It's easy to become overly critical, especially of yourself. You play your music back and it doesn't match up to your favourite tracks in terms of sound quality, playing, feel. The temptation is to become depressed and think... why bother?

But as Diego Stocco said in a recent Sonic State podcast (321) - none of us start from a point of excellence. Learning is an end in itself - 'You can start from zero and build up... The process of learning is beautiful, because when you learn [recording techniques] they become yours. And something that becomes yours is much more powerful that something you use out of necessity.'

So my fourth tactic is to try and lower my expectations and be kinder to myself. This is not an easy trick to pull off, but when I do manage it, I find that I enjoy the time I spend making music, rather than worrying about the end result. I want to write a song, but does it have to win a Grammy? It would be nice to have a hit, of course, but your music can still have value even if you are the only person to ever listen to it - especially if you enjoyed making it. Everything after that is a bonus.

By successfully deploying Tactics 1-4 I find that I'm learning to enjoy making music, and making more of the time I have. But what if it still doesn't feel like enough? Please, sir, I want some more. Perhaps Tactic 5 is a genuine possibility...

Tactic 5: Give up work

There can be no doubt that work is time-consuming and often bothersome. If you would like to spend more time making music and find your job getting in the way why not give up your job? Or cut down your hours? Of course you probably have bills to pay, a mortgage.

But if you do your sums, you might find you could live with far less than you think you need. Let's face it, all we really have to do is work enough hours to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. Beyond that, it's up to us how we spend our time.

I recently went down to three days a week, thanks to an understanding partner and my employer's flexible working policy. I now have the freedom to spend two days a week doing what I want - writing music, working on a novel, exploring alternative ways to earn a living.

Now I'm the first to admit that my music still isn't swinging all that much, the novel is going nowhere and I won't be settling back by my new pool any time soon but... and here's the thing... I'm happier. 


When you've got as few summers left as I have, being happy counts for quite a lot.


Matthew Tanner is a copywriter and amateur musician. He played his first gig when he was 13, carrying his drum kit to the gig in a shopping trolley. He has been into home recording since he bought a Tascam 144 Portastudio in 1979.

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