I had the most frustrating experience this last weekend. An experience that was completely frustrating on many levels–technological, performance, musical, etc. But, the frustration was all created by me, and my own resistance.
One of the things I do as a musician sometimes is send in an audition video to someone who’s looking for a drummer. I think of these as ‘pre-auditions’–no one makes a final selection based on a video, but they use it to narrow the choices for who DOES come in for an audition.
I have the gear to do this relatively easily, but I had a series of breakdowns–the camera, the media card, the OS, the apps. Just a bunch of stuff going wrong and the worst part was that it stretched across three days (it started on Fri. afternoon and wasn’t completely fixed until Sunday midday).
These snafus were followed by some, shall we say, ‘spectacularly uninspiring’ drumming. My playing sucked and I was mixing the audio poorly, so it all sounded even worse. *great*
The fact that all this stuff went wrong is not the main thing here, no. The main thing here was my reaction to all of these things. I was irrational, upset, depressed and pissed off (and I’m certain I was no fun to be around acting like this). For me, this is rare–no, really ;). And right now, in hindsight, I’m sure this state of emotions contributed to the poor quality of the performance in the first recording session.
I try to be a ‘good Marine’ when things go wrong like this. You know: improvise, adapt and overcome. But I had used up all my good, focused energy wrestling all those tech and gear problems to the ground. So, by the time that was done getting the gear to work, I had no good energy left for the actual recording and performing.
Sadly, I didn’t realize this at the time, and I spent another four hours trying to get some good takes (or was it six hours?–who’s counting at that point). This is a great example of me being much too much of a stubborn guy sometimes.
And, I’m now realizing that the big learning for me is this: if it ain’t working, try it another day. (This is what ended up happening anyway, but it could have been a much smoother process had I not been so stubborn.) Better to send in a solid performance that’s late than send in something that’s not up to standards but on time. (Yes, sending in a solid performance on time is the optimal thing, but that wasn’t in the cards this past weekend, and besides, the deadline I had in my head was self-imposed anyway.)
It’s also interesting that I had given myself a deadline (there was no deadline given in the ad for audition videos), and that ‘artificial’ deadline was driving my behavior during that unproductive recording session on the Sunday. Another reason why all of this drama and struggle was silly–it was primarily self-imposed.
So what’s my big learning here? In a recording-at-home crisis, sound engineer Miguel needs as much energy as performer Miguel. But on the same day and at the same time, they’re both drawing from the same well. And that well has it’s limits.
And it’s fine to create self-imposed deadlines (who is it that said a deadline is the artists best friend?), but at some point, let it go and ease up. At some point all you’re doing is driving yourself–and those around you–crazy. Just. Stop.
The last thing I want to point out is this–I had no idea what the big ideas about his weekend were until I finished writing the two paragraphs prior to this one. The whole experience from the weekend was bugging me, and I thought it was the best thing to post about this week. The process of getting my thoughts out through writing can be a wonderfully therapeutic process.
Another way of saying it is this–I’m not doing this for the fame, money and adulation ;)…I’m doing this for my mental health.
Yep, writing this has been therapeutic for me, but it’s also exhausting. I’m toast. Gotta go.
Ciao for now…