Recently, I was tasked with making a recording for a student. He came in and played his piece a few times (very well I might add) as I got the microphones situated and set up the camera. We were doing a video performance so we ran it into our interface to record the audio and also sent it back to the camera, so I didn't have to mess with re-syncing the audio to the video later.
Pay attention because there is a moral to this story.
Finally I had all of the cables plugged in and the audio volumes set and we were ready to go. I hit record and it happened. Mistakes.
And more mistakes.
The hits kept coming and I could tell our fearless student was finally getting a little bit frustrated. This is the side of music production that they don't show you in biopics or behind the music features. I wish they would though because very few people know or understand a universal truth to anyone who's done it: recording is hard. In the movies they only show you when they go to the studio and just throw a hit song out there. The whole band is in the room and the singer's microphone is three feet above their head hanging from the ceiling (because, ostensibly, that makes them look 'cool').
In reality though it happens another way. The band comes in and records a basic track but they're really just recording the drums. It takes probably all day unless you're really lucky and the drummer knocks it out first try (super rare). After that you do the guitars again because you need a 'capture' without the drums bleeding into the mics. Often times the speaker cabinet for the guitar is out in the studio and the guitarist records from inside the comfy booth. This usually takes a few tries and then you do overdubs where you layer the sound to make it 'fatter' and add little twiddly bits. Guitar can take anywhere from an afternoon to a couple days depending on the scope involved, sometimes you even come back later after everyone else to add more. You can expect anywhere from three to even twenty guitar tracks in a single song. It is a production after all. After this the bassist comes in and does his thing, you generally don't layer too much with bass, their job is pretty pure and straightforward. After all of this -- mistakes, new takes, new takes, another take, another 'shoot-I-almost-nailed-it', and you maybe have a song. Then the singer comes in and spends the entire day cursing at the microphone and then doing overdubs. Vocal parts are actually the other HUGE productions in music and can be upwards of 20+ tracks including double tracking and harmonies. All of those also include various flubs and re-tries. Then repeat this process 13+ times and you have yourself an album. Ever wonder why your favorite band takes a good six months or more to record an album? There's your answer.
So back to the moral of the story here: recording is hard. Recording is when all of your mistakes that you never make show up. They sit inside you and wait for that red light to come on and make their attack. Do one-takes (getting it in one try) happen? Yes, absolutely and they're AWESOME, but they aren't a measure of someones skill because recording is simply too difficult to be understated. That student I was talking about? We stopped for the day and he came back a day later and knocked it out in a few attempts. The red light saw that he had suffered enough and granted him passage.
I encourage all of you to come make a recording, its super fun and frustrating all at once. But, it's also a great experience. And you probably won't have to worry about the massive production side of things. Maybe you'll 'one-take' it? Or maybe you'll see that it's really nothing like the movies and it takes a lot of good old fashioned work.
Well, here we are again: another school year has begun and it's time for routine to take over. It's quite an adjustment from the lackadaisical summer attitude. For us here it's seeming like we're drifting into a routine as well, which is most welcome after the big move to Old Town Silverdale. Oh yeah, we moved by the way. So please don't go looking for us at the old location, Easter Seals has taken over that space and while they're nice folk -- I doubt they want a bunch of students poking around. Most of you might have noticed we still have some work to do here the door frames are a little funny, the back room isn't painted (and still has a bunch of stuff in it); there's not much on the walls...we're getting there, don't worry.
That brings me to the next order of business: We're going to do a Student Appreciation Day here at the park. We used to do them every year but trying to reserve the covered barbecue area used to be a big hassle. Of course, being right next to it (I can literally walk there right now in about 30 seconds, not exaggerating) it's pretty easy to get now. So that'll happen soon-ish -- a little later than we wanted but the last few months we've had to stagger everything a little later than we wanted. Keep an eye out on our facebook for that announcement.
Last little bit here and it's a question for you fine folk:
Do you use twitter? I use twitter for my film composing network-y stuff but I'm undecided if it's worth it for WAM. Let me know!
Until next time,
As summer approaches we all begin to go ga-ga over the idea of our upcoming vacations. Perhaps picturing ourselves sitting on a quiet beach somewhere (in the sun we hope) or contemplating some unfilled days of relaxation just doing whatever comes to mind.
Too often though the initial reaction to the summer break idea is to withdraw from music lessons and completely disengage from practicing. With good reason we discourage this at WAM. WHY?
Our experience shows that most beginner and intermediate level students become so frustrated after a long break they quit music lessons altogether. Students lose a lot of technical ability over a break longer than three weeks. Unlike academics at school, studying music involves academics AND physiology. It takes know how to make great music and physical prowess (technique) to pull it off. The loss of physical ability over an extended break creates a lot of frustration that is very difficult for young students to overcome.
Now your question may be whether or not WAM teachers take vacations from music practice and study. Yes we do! But we’re professional musicians. We’ve learned to make the most efficient use of practice time and, importantly, we’ve learned what to expect after a break. We know that our technique, skill and memory will not be at their best at that first post-vacation practice session. But we also know how to recover it very quickly. New students don’t know this nor are they at a confident technical level which enables them to quickly recoup what they’ve lost. Bottom-line: students need to stay engaged with their music throughout the summer.
Hey, take a short break! It’s encouraged. But keep it down to two or three weeks at most. Talk to the staff at our Front Desk and tell them you want to take advantage of the “Lesson Hold Option.”
Staying engaged in practice through the summer will ensure that there will be no loss of musicianship or forward progress and with the "Lesson Hold Option" you won’t risk losing your lesson slot at WAM.
IT'S OFFICIAL -- WE'RE MOVING!
After several weeks of looking at properties and negotiating a new lease I now can tell you that after 13 years in the 3100 Building, WAM is moving to a new location...and, frankly, there's just no other way to describe the location: it's so perfect...so cool...so nice...so classy...so...so...so Old Town. We think it's just perfect for us as well as you (the WAM FAM.)
Where are we moving?
The Ocean Park Building on Byron Street in Old Town Silverdale.
Where is the Ocean Park Building?
It's right smack-dab in the Silverdale Waterfront Park...about a 10 second walk to the monkey bars.
When are we moving?
Current plans are to move into the new building during our Summer Break II which is the week of August 1st. There will be no lessons that week anyway. So, you'll be enjoying the last weeks of summer vacation while we work to get the new place set up and ready for lessons to resume on August 8th...that is, unless you want to help us move (just kidding).
When you visit us for lessons you and your family can enjoy the beautiful waterfront where you can see Mount Rainier, relax in the park, maybe have a picnic, perhaps go on a short stroll down old Byron Street and visit some of our cool neighbors like Monica's Waterfront Bakery & Cafe, Cash Brewing & Restaurant, KitsapArt or maybe even Sylvan Learning Center.
We'll be posting more information on our media sites (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) about our move and some photos of our new digs as the space is transformed from a hair salon and spa and into a music academy.
Lastly, start making plans to attend our open house and Student Appreciation picnic in early September. It will be a fun event!
As a community music school we always have many young students who are venturing into the world of music and music lessons for the first time in their lives. They come to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's because their parents simply believe that music is an important part of their overall education (which it is!) or they have a youngster who has shown promise as a musician or perhaps he or she may have a burning desire at an early age (like me) to follow the music muse.
Whatever the reason, the single most important influencer and supporter in a young music student's life is, and for many years will be, their parents.
Experience shows us that directly behind the most successful young students at WAM are parents who are actively supportive and actively involved in their child's weekly lessons and at-home practice sessions.
I've said this many times: sending a child to their room with only an admonition to practice for 30 minutes does very little good. In most cases it's a sure recipe for failure. Why? Because along with mastering the things taught during the weekly lessons students must also learn how to practice effectively and efficiently and they must develop self-discipline, self-motivation and a commitment to musical excellence. It's the rare youngster who develops those skills without an example to follow or adult guidance.
If your young child is taking music lessons you should be in the lessons, observing, asking questions, taking notes. Then, at home you should guide their practice sessions based on what you've learned. As they get older and more experienced you'll find that not only will they not require as much supervision from you, they will have developed personal traits that will last them a lifetime. Traits that breed a superior work ethic, personal and professional excellence, success and happiness.....also they'll have lifelong love and appreciation of music! Take heart; they'll thank you later.......
This month I finally get around to publicly welcoming three fine teaching artists to Washington Academy of Music. Notice I use the term "Teaching Artists." This is a term coined by The National Guild, which we are a member of, and frankly, I like it! It expresses the idea that we are not just teachers. First and foremost all of us at WAM are musical artists. Honestly, and rightly so, our daily focus is not on teaching, but on making music. We don't just teach music as a living, we live it; we thrive on it, we are inspired by it and we try to make the world a better and more beautiful place with it. In our teaching, we not only provide music instruction, we pass on our knowledge and our passion for beauty and art to our students with a good dose of commitment to excellence. This, I think, is a far better deal for the students!
Glen Milligan teaches voice and beginning piano. He started piano lessons at the age of 8. His passion for music carried him all the way Washington State University, where he earned a BA in Music. He brings his experience as camp counselor and assistant director from his time with the Admiral Theater's Summer Camp, the Kitsap Forest Theater Camp and the Icicle Creek Youth Theater Camp. Glen is a patient, innovative and energetic teacher, drawing out the creativity and energy of his students.
Allison Verhofstadt teaches Voice and Piano. A long-time resident of Kitsap County, she recently returned to Silverdale from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. where she majored in Musical Theater. A superb vocalist, she gained a wealth of professional experience working in local productions with CSTOCK, KCMT as well as BCMT, eventually securing, through a highly competitive audition process, a paid internship as an equity actor at the 5th Avenue Theater.
Ken Tissue has taught in the Kitsap area for many years. A fine player, he specializes in teaching Contemporary Guitar (rock, country, blues, etc.). Ken is well grounded in technique and music theory and its application to the guitar as well as music improvisation. He produces students who are musically literate, versatile and creative.
A true pro, Ken has years and years of experience in a variety of performing groups in several styles.