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Four Ways To Beat The Slump

The studio at rest.
The studio at rest.
Photo by Joshua Wentz

No matter how much a musician loves to create, there are times when sitting down in the studio and hitting "record" on your DAW of choice feels like more of a chore than a joy.  How does one break through that wall? Here are a few suggestions to help motivated musicians shake themselves out of the doldrums.

1. Don't record at all.  Sometimes the pressure to be good gets in the way of actually being good.  Instead of spending time setting up mics or organizing a session file, just sit down and play.  Maybe nothing will come of this session, or maybe a riff will be discovered that will becoming a new song.

If the guitar is one's instrument of choice, sitting down outside of the studio area to play will alleviate that feeling that they should be mic'ing anything.  For electronic artists and programmers, just pick a few sounds at random and experiment—just don't think too hard!

2. Play to a weakness. Instead of playing the most comfortable and understood instrument in the collection, picking up the one that has been gathering dust in the corner can be a refreshing change of pace. Pick up that banjo, a gift that has yet to be properly utilized.  Dust off the concertina that seems too hard to play. Remember that making music is about experimenting, about having fun, and about the tactile and aural experience, not just the final outcome.

Lovers of folk songs might try to develop a techno track to shake things up. Hard rockers can switch over to soft rock for an afternoon.  The possibilities are endless.

3. Involve someone else. When self-motivation is hard to come by, making a commitment to another musician might be just the right amount of pressure to awaken the recording spirit. Home-recording artists are notorious for being overly open about accepting collaborative project or offering to lend their expertise to a friend.  Act on one of those back burner projects; turn a suggestion into a promise, and the enthusiasm of the other project members will be invigorating.

4. Remix. Take a favorite recording and turn it on its side.  Find an a capella track and give it a home.  Or, perhaps grab the stems of a popular recording and use them as inspiration.  Sites like Indaba Music often have remix contests where entrants can get stems from many professional recordings for free.  This is a perfect way to put skills to the test and get out of a rut.

In no time, the "recordist's block" will end and the home studio will once again be the favorite room in the house.


  • John LaSala 4 years ago

    Great tips, as usual, Mr. Wentz!

  • Jared C. 4 years ago

    Let's see how these can be applied to other fields as well... I think we all go through slumps, and need a checklist now and then.

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