5 Lessons on Living from the Recording Studio
Perspective, humility, being coachable, trust, and patience.
Posted February 27, 2020
I began my career as a singer recording, performing, and touring with many fantastic artists and companies. I’ve since turned my attention to writing and coaching other singers and performers, though I still get to strut my musical stuff now and then. Including last week when I was asked to sing background vocals on an Americana project.
Being back in the studio was a wonderful experience, in large part for what recording and performing–and all creative partnerships and pursuits–have to teach us about life itself:
It's been about 10 years since I sang full-time professionally. And as the time between then and now has slipped away, so has the tether to my sense of identity around it. Which allowed me to come back to the studio as an excited visitor, not a stressed out, "all about me" worker-bee. I didn’t want to be great. I wanted to do a great job. The flavor of my desire had changed, because I had changed. And that changed everything.
I was confident in my voice and preparation and that I would bring my best to the table. I had nothing to prove. And… I felt incredibly humble. It has taken me a long time to learn that I can be both. That there is a difference between confidence and arrogance, between being humble and wanting others to think that I am. It’s all about where I’m coming from: my true self–present, grateful, and playful–or my fear, pride, and ego.
Being humble and confident also allowed me to welcome feedback and to integrate it effectively. When I heard, "let’s do that take again," I didn’t retreat into my own head, fretting about whether the recording engineer was right or what mistake I may have made. Instead, I leaped from action to action in the dance of relationship and creation.
This required my ability–and willingness–to surrender control and fully trust another person. And not just creatively; in a sound booth with headphones on, we don’t hear as we normally do when singing at home or in front of a group. Nor do we hear what those in the main recording room are listening to on the loudspeakers with a proper mix.
The aural discrepancies can be frustrating and, if we let them, lead us to struggle against ourselves, the moment, and those in it with us. How delicious it was to let go of my concerns and inner critic… and just sing.
As a result, the outcomes I was no longer fixated on or attached to came quickly and effortlessly. And joyfully–concerns about time and perfection faded away as a sense of play rushed in, enabling me to beat even my best takes again and again.
At the end of the session, I walked into the sunshine proud of myself, honored by the opportunity, and grateful for the gifts I'd been given... of music, of friendship, and of learning. And a life in which to celebrate all three.