Today, I’d like to share some advice and encouragement for anybody who is trying to progress in music production. This is something that I wish had occurred to me in my first few years of learning to produce music. My advice for you today is this: don’t judge your progress in music production on a mix by mix basis…
When I first started learning to produce music, I was constantly trying to improve my skill set. I’d read online articles and books. I’d discuss ideas back and forth with friends who also produced music. I would sit in on studio sessions whenever I got the chance. But despite all of this, when I listened to my latest mix and compared it to my previous one, there never really seemed to be much of an improvement. Although I could tell that the most recent compression process or EQ approach that I’d learned seemed to be doing its job, on the whole, my mixes didn’t seem to be getting much better.
How to measure your progress in music production
As time went on however, I did start to notice improvements in my mixes when I compared them to mixes that I’d made several months before. This wasn’t because I’d recently changed the way I was doing things or because I’d stumbled upon some secret formula. It was simply because, in reality, noticeable improvements only really occur through continued practice.
This is true of any skill. No matter what you’re learning to do, it’s rare that you’ll see a marked improvement each and every time you do it. If you play football for example, then you’re not likely to see a difference every time you step onto the pitch. If you paint then you’re unlikely to see how much better you’ve got from one picture to the next. It’s not until you’ve practiced over a period of time that you start to see noticeable results.
This is no different in music production. Even if you’ve read about some specific way of setting the attack and release on a compressor for a great snare drum sound, or you’ve watched a video about pushing a certain frequency for great vocals, it doesn’t mean that this move alone will make your next mix a thousand times better than the last. You will only see the difference when you keep practicing and keep implementing all the little things that you learn. That way, there will come a time when you can look back on mixes that you were making a few months ago and really see how far you’ve come.
The desire to judge your progress on a mix by mix basis is normal
When you think about it, the fact that you can only really see the progress in your music production skills over a period of time is quite logical. Nevertheless, it’s only natural that we want to see some improvements between mixes straight away. You want to see the pay off for the hard work that you’ve put in. You want all the learning that you’ve done to be worthwhile. So you listen to your previous mix, only to feel disheartened when you realize that you’re latest mix still doesn’t sound the way you had hoped.
When this happens, it’s easy to start to doubt your abilities. But you shouldn’t! As you record, mix and master songs, you’re constantly learning. You’re learning through trial and error. Plus you’re learning through experimenting and trying things out. You’re learning by reading online articles and watching videos, all the while building knowledge and familiarity. The reality is that it simply takes time for all of the small improvements that you’re making to add up to noticeable results. But the time will come when the hard work pays off. Then, you’ll be able to hear just how far your progress in music production has come.
Can you hear an improvement between the songs that you produce now and the songs that you produced a few months ago? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.
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