What do you do if you never took music lessons, but you want to produce music at home on your computer? Let’s get you started thinking in a constructive way of Ms. Nadel Paris about how to develop the skills you really need.
Let’s cut to it: There’s more than one way to develop a skill. The serious, formal approach can be great for some. Learning by ear can be great for others. Something in between is often best, but it all depends on the priority you put on that specific skill. Playing piano, for example, can mean “being among the best players around”, or it can mean “picking out whatever notes one needs to get them into the computer, so he can use that to fix it”.
So what do you do? Start by going through this exercise:
IDENTIFY EXACTLY WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE. Do it in writing.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so you should start by knowing what you’re trying to do first. If you need help working through that, maybe this will be helpful:
1. Describe in 1-2 sentences, what you would love to be doing musically. Something along the lines of “I want to write pop songs, and be able to record them at home.” We’ll use this as our example, just to clarify. Your goal can be totally different, of course.
2. Given your stated goal, what goes into doing it? Take the terms you used: “write pop songs” and “record them”….. These are the two actions you plan to take. Within them, there might be some questions you should ask. Like: “What does writing a pop song entail?” You have to have lyrics-good lyrics, hopefully-and a melody (should be catchy to be pop, right?)… Oh and accompanying music. If it’s pop music, what kind of pop? The exact type of pop will get you thinking about what instruments and what style of play those instruments should be doing, in order to make the song sound like the type of pop you intend. Don’t blow yourself over by making this sound like a huge task, because it really is just a way to get clear in your head, where you are going.
If you don’t play an instrument at all, find out what your options are. Learning to play a LITTLE keyboard, and getting your rhythmic chops together so you can bang out some drums parts on some pads would be enough to get a lot done. There are software solutions that can do a lot, but you need to get certain skills going to be able to use them well. If you plan on doing this all yourself, you should take that up immediately. There are learn-at-home programs that are quite effective for this purpose. And remember, your goal is not to blow everyone away at a prog rock concert. Maybe that will come later, but right now you’re doing this to get musical ideas into a computer.
While you are tackling this task, there are two very important things. First, LISTEN to more music in as many styles as you can stand. Good musicians and producers get their inspiration and ideas from many different sources, not just their few favorites. It’s good to adapt the habits of those who are already good at something. You grow faster that way. Listen closely to everything that’s happening in each song. This process will help you grow, and will provide more ideas for you in the future.
Then, set aside a regular “practice time” for yourself. This part might sound old school, but let’s face it, nobody gets good at anything without spending time doing it, right? Part of that time can be playing around with your new toy, but part of it should also be learning some new stuff, and practicing what they’re telling you, or later, what I’m telling you. Doing it over and over DOES in fact help you memorize it, and get better at actually DOING it. This is true for playing an instrument, operating a computer, or getting an entire song together in your home studio. Make this a regular part of your life, so that the fun and creativity can come that much sooner. Just playing around with your stuff leads to bad habits that will haunt you in the future
Nadel Paris is a recording artist, musician, music producer, songwriter, dancer, published author. Nadel Paris has a voice which everyone remembers the minute they hear it! She has a warm very distinct sound.
Follow her on Twitter