messy

My Ways of Spending More Time in the Studio

organizedI believe that every one of us knows pretty well whether or not we are organized. Personally, it is a struggle on my part to be organized. However, it was my girlfriend who taught me the connection between being organized and being productive.

Throughout the years, we have moved studio and office items around in order to possibly maximize functionality. However, it was not until I joined a seminar where I learned about the value of ergonomics. I thought this concept is not applicable to musicians like me, but trust me, it can be well applied to all aspects of our lives.

I believe that ergonomics help me spend more time in the studio, as it allows me to become more productive.

I would like to share with you the things that I learned.

Sorting Out Things

messyIn a studio environment, especially in one where most of the tenants are men, having a sorted out place is a rare thing to see. However, I learned from the seminar that sorting out of things is very important. This process means removing items that are no longer needed in the studio, giving priority and space to items which are useful. This includes documents, tools, as well as an accessory.

It also helped me manage studio space when I started ordering all of my things with the most frequency of use as the nearest. For instance, since we frequently receive calls, our phone is transferred at a spot that is easy to reach from our chairs.

Paying Attention to Ergonomics

ergonomic chair studioI must admit. I never thought that the selection of furniture in our recording studio is a very important factor to consider. I and my team only gave attention to the electronics equipment that we need to have. After all, most of our budget went to this equipment.

However, I was made aware, through the seminar, that even the furniture inside the recording studio plays a vital role in the productivity of the people working inside. In fact, they should not be neglected at all. With the right furniture in the studio, we have observed that we became ergonomically efficient.

chairsTrue, creating a decent studio may take a lot of effort and time. However, if you think of it, as a full-time musician, most of our time are spent inside our studio. I always said I didn’t mind sitting on a chair that is not ‘ergonomically’ designed, but recently, I realized that sitting down on comfortable ergonomics chair brings out the best in us. After all, there is a huge possibility that 90% of our time inside the studio is spent sitting at our desk.

For this reason, it would just make sense that most of the budget of any studio, or any office, for that matter, should go to the selection of a chair where you would sit most often. Of course, you may still have to consider budget when selecting your office type chairs, but considering the impact on productivity that these chairs can give you, you know what to do.

Bottom Line

studioJust like other individuals who are pro-ergonomics, I believe that how a studio makes you feel has a bearing on our work efficiency. In fact, it has been proven a lot of times through various studies that office environments which send good vibes to the workers inside become more productive compared to those that are only equipped with monotonous interiors. My suggestion, therefore, is that while you are decorating your studio, it is often best to mix some themes that are included in your design. This will result in less distraction on your part.

Case in point, one day, my girlfriend bought a three pots of plants to our studio. She was telling us that our studio space was just so dull, with no life in it. I thought it would just be fine, but later on, my band mates admitted feeling more vibrant as they work inside the studio. As they take breaks, they either water the plants or even just looking at them gives a feeling of solitude. Adding some art will also make the studio more artistic, I believe, which is why I am planning to get one soon for our studio!

earplugs

Studio, Gigs and Concerts: How do I Protect My Ears From the High Volumes

loud musicI remember a good friend of mine giving me a valuable tip when I was just starting as a musician. He told me: “you need to protect your ears”. I was thinking about other things that day, but it was only when I finally got on stage, felt dizzy because of the noise, that I realized the importance of those words.

As a musician, I have been using my ears since I was young. I have ‘widowed’ some music arrangements (which means that I played by ear), and have listened to our recordings, and that of others. Therefore, my ears is constantly exposed to different levels of sound.

earplugsAs a protection for my ears, I got me a pair of noise canceling earplugs. The ones that I chose have been designed for musicians like me. They are very valuable in different situations, and there is also a wide range of options when it comes to frequencies, as well as custom fittings.

Sadly, however, some musicians I know hate using earplugs while performing because they believe that their performances might be affected. Still, it is still the best thing to do. Through the years that I have used earplugs, I have found some ways on how to balance the sound that enters my ears.

Earplugs – A Good Investment

In any endeavor, investments need to be made. This is very important if you are constantly exposed to the high volume of sound. Loud sound levels can destroy your hearing. If not now, maybe in the long run.
Earplugs particularly designed for musicians like me have been constructed especially to replicate the hearing range of our ears, but only with a lower decibel level. The music that is heard through earplugs for musicians comes it the same frequency, just like that of the original, but they are delivered directly to your inner at a very safe and comfortable decibel level.

It is part of our life as musicians to perform and practice, thus getting ourselves exposed to a wide musical style spectrum. For that reason, it is very important to protect our ears. The good thing is that last time I checked on ear plugs, there are a lot of them that are available, offering different attenuation levels. In fact, I use one which allows me to use a different type of attenuator in one of my ears, and another one with the other, depending on the location, sources, as well as the intensity of sound.

If you are also a musician and are wondering how to choose the best one for your need, consider the following factors:

  • The earplugs that are best for concerts, or those with high volume sound exposure are way different from the standard earplugs that a lot of people use. A good model is one that does not completely mute the sound.
  • Earplugs for concerts and performances, unlike foam earplugs, has the capacity to lower noise up to 12 to 15 decibels. This means that you need to choose ear plugs that can lower sound volume across different frequencies. Doing so will allow you to still enjoy the tune, and at the same time, protect your ears from high volume.

Aside from choosing the right earplugs for your protection, there are also some things that you can take into practice. For instance, take regular breaks. These breaks will give your ears a break. You do not have to wait before you feel dizzy before you rest, just take the initiative and take those well-deserved breaks. It’s for your own good.

If you do mixing, make sure to do so at a controlled volume. For one, there is no reason to be exposed to high volume inside your studio environment. Mixing at higher volume will only distort your sound, which means that you may not get a real response that you need.

Avoid shying away from the use of earplugs. They are the best means of providing protection to your ears. Limit your exposure to high sound levels whenever you can, and take a break at times. You will certainly appreciate music and sound better if you can hear them well.

thank you

I Would Like to Say Thank You to My Girlfriend

thank you loverIf there is somebody I would really like to thank aside from my family, it is my girlfriend.

Babe, THANK YOU is not enough, I think.

You have been with me all the way, supported me through all my ups and downs. You are my pillar, my inspiration, my everything. I feel very motivated every time I see your smile urging me on…

thank youThrough the years of being a full-time musician, starting friendships with other people is not easy at all. I meet great people, beautiful girls everywhere. But it seems that for me, somebody I have always known has made me feel at home.

We met in high school, but we were not high school sweethearts. She was among the cool, intelligent girls at school, while I’m with, guess what? The GLEE Club. We knew each other, but it was only up to that. We were just classmates.

It was only a few years after graduation when we finally got to know each other better. It was during one of our gigs at Matt’s, and she was in the audience, with her friends. Apparently, she was in town for a short vacation. I barely noticed her, because aside from the fact that she changed a lot (more beautiful), I was busy with my music.

She was the one who recognized me. It turned out that she really enjoyed every performance by the GLEE Club back in high school. It started there. She came back to watch more gigs, and the rest is history.

Two years ago, my girlfriend decided to quit her work, and is doing some freelance jobs, giving her more time to spend with me. She lives in her own apartment, but whenever I am in town, she stays with me. At times, when both of our schedules allow, she would join the band during our tours and gigs. And I love it when that happens.

epilationWhenever I am on my free day, and she is in my place, she is usually the one who prepares my coffee. While I check my emails, she also does her stuff. We get crazy sometimes, too! I remember one time, I was observing her using her epilator, and suggested that I do it one time. The next week, she asked me if I can do it for her.

Man! I thought an epilator is just similar to men’s razor. It was not! Far away from it! You need to be delicate, consistent, and all other things in between. I gave up, and admitted that the reason why I wanted to try it myself was because I thought she was doing it wrong. It turned out that she was right, after all.

I was really curious about it! I asked her how she chose a quality epilator for herself. She was very excited while telling me what she knew, but most of what she said were blurry in my head. I remembered clearly, though, that she mentioned about the importance of the Tweezers.

She was like “Any girl should know that tweezers are very important in an epilator. They are the ones that actually remove the hairs. Epilators that are less expensive usually have about 20 tweezers, but it only means that the process consumes more time.”

tweezers“I got one with 72 tweezers, faster and more effective…” Wow, did she really count them all, I wonder! Well, that’s what makes her very attractive. She is girly, yes, but not the fragile type. She can even do some things better than I do. She is independent, smart, and I love her for that.

Personally, I would not say that I have the best girlfriend because any guy would be able to do that with ease. My girlfriend is someone I need, not because of the help she gives me, but because of the peace of mind, I feel whenever she’s near. I can even freely compose good songs with her inspiration. I can pretty much say that all of the things I am enjoying now would not be as enjoying without her.

For that, again, Babe, I love you so much and THANK YOU for all the support in all my endeavors

bass guitar

Getting Ready for the Gigs: Things I Care Before the Performance

gigsGigs – I love them. They are not just a way to showcase my talent, but it allows me to realize my passion. The claps and the cheering from the audience inspire me further. However, getting on stage is not everything, I should say.

The success of a performance highly depends on the things that happen beforehand, which includes the planning phase, and of course, the preparation. The following are aspects that I really give attention to before any performance:

  • My individual playing

 bass guitarI play the bass guitar in our band. At times, I do keyboards too. Regardless of the instrument that I play, I make sure that I focus on my individual playing. What I do is focus on the songs that we play in different situations. I play them while walking, standing, sitting down, in the dark, while talking, with friends listening, without looking at my equipment, and others. The point here is to really familiarize the music even in different scenarios. After all, we’ll never know what will happen during the performance.

  • The overall performance of the band

concertDuring band rehearsals, we make sure that everything is flawless. If one of the members fail to do so or commit mistakes often, we just ask him to go home to practice further. Practicing together is not about understanding flaws because this is the business. Practice and more time can make everything flawless during the performance.

As such, we usually record our rehearsals through video. When we watch the video, we then turn the audio volume off, paying attention to our appearance. This helps us a lot with our visual impact and stage presence. After all, it’s not just sound that matters during gigs.

Then, we do audio recordings, using a recording software. During the review, however, we do not listen to the music from the recording, but we focus on the screen in order to notice any rhythmic flow or pattern issues.

  • Focusing on stage presence

Reality dictates that when playing live, music is just 50% of what the audience really care about. The other half is based on what they see. In fact, we see in mainstream bands that even those that sound great fail to become successful because they failed to focus on stage presence.

This includes careful planning on how each band member looks. Yes, we sit down with our stylists, checking the things like my hair clippers to be used, and beauty products that we would need during the set. We take charge personally, with their guidance, so you bet I am fully aware how those curling irons work!

  • Lessen stage fright

stage frightEven professional performers experience stage fright. This is one aspect that should be given complete attention. After all, even though you have the coolest band, with the most attractive songs, but if you succumb to stage fright, you will be consumed all the way. Usually, stage fright is a result of poor preparations and rehearsals. Therefore, we go back to step 1 and make sure that everything is done well.

  • Logistics and Equipment

equipmentAll the other factors mentioned above can easily be ruined if we fail to give attention to one more detail: logistics and equipment. This applies particularly true if we need to do a gig out of town. The equipment should be in their best condition, with no issues whatsoever, and they should be delivered in the safest way possible. The last thing that any musician would want to hear is that his equipment was either damaged or lost in transit.

There, those are the things that I usually pay attention to and really care about before any performance. I believe that the audience deserves the best. It’s not even about the price paid, the tickets sold, but it is more of the satisfaction I usually feel every time I hear the cheers.

That moment when you are about to end the performance, and they beg for more? The best part! Bands usually bring in extra for that moment, but I have seen other bands playing to the end of their show without receiving such compliments. The success of any performance depends on the preparations before.

 

musician

A Musician’s Daily Routine: My 24 Hours

be a musicianPerhaps you are wondering what my life as a musician is. I believe that if you ask any other artist, they will give the same answer: my schedule is ever changing, at times good, most of the time overwhelming.

As a musician who has served as a full-time musician for several years now, I have already established my own routine, which may be different with that of the others. However, as I have mentioned, it is constantly changing depending on some outside factors.

I categorize my schedule depending on whether I have gigs or not.

When Not Out on Gigs

musician7:30 a.m.: On a typical day at home, I usually wake up around 7:30. A typical person that I am, I head to the bathroom, brush my teeth. And oh, I love my electric toothbrush. It allows me to think while brushing. I then head my way to making coffee, because my day cannot start without it. Then, I open my computer, checking my inbox. While the coffee is brewing, I make my bed, prepare my coffee, and sit down, browsing through my received messages. Every day, I get about 100 emails. Then, I begin replying to them. Usually, I do so depend on which one is the easiest to answer, and which ones are the hardest. I know, I know, it’s not the best strategy out there, but that is how I do it because it’s more productive for me, and I allow the coffee to sink in first before I work on the harder to answer ones.

11:00 a.m.: Since it’s a free day, I usually work out, lifting weights, running, and others.

1:00 p.m.: After work out, I come home, and work on some other projects I have. I am working with two interns from a local university, and today’s lesson is related to booking. I usually manage my own booking, but since I do not have enough time, I allow my assistant to do it.

2:30 p.m.: I usually have lunch at this time. By 3:00 p.m., I usually go back to my laptop, checking my emails, and see the replies of those I have communicated with earlier in the morning.

3:00 p.m. onwards: I do other things, taking my dog for a walk, working until about 1 in the morning, this time, focusing on the difficult emails, such as contracts and similar content. This is also the time when I do other social activities, such as dinner with friends, and others.

musician 2Now, a day at work, that is, when touring, doing gigs, and others can be very different from a typical day. This is because there are certain factors that enter the picture, such as the location of the gig (which is usually out of town), the time, and several others.

By the way, I collaborate with a band, though I also do solo gigs. The tours we have are usually for private events or as back-up to concerts of more famous bands, and others. They always ask me why we didn’t audition to enter the mainstream, but nah, I said, I’m happier this way. I am the type of person who likes having a life, helping others (through this blog), and enjoying music the way it is, not as a main source of stress.

My Daily Mantra

Aside from the things that I do at certain times of the day, I also have my personal mantra, that is, things that I condition myself to believe in throughout the day. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Get Inspired

As a love of music, I get inspired by music. As such, while brewing my coffee and checking out on my emails, I usually start my day with music that really inspires me. Trust me, I listen to a wide range of music varieties. One day I listen to Bach, the next day hard rock.

musician 3

  • Planning Out

I usually feel that my day is not productive whenever I fail to plan my day out. This especially applies when I am out for gigs and tours. True, others do the scheduling for me, but I plot everything in my head, to establish expectations.

Well, they say, the life of a musician is an exciting one, and I agree. Being able to do something that you love while earning at the same time is a rare commodity these days. I love what I do, and the thought of waking up every music-filled day is a blessing.

bass guitar

My Passion: Playing the Bass Guitar Since I Was 13

bass guitarAnother instrument that I find interesting is the bass guitar. The passion for learning this instrument came after I felt that I was already confident with my playing of the acoustic guitar. Some of my friends were gifted enough to learn how to play the bass guitar directly, but in my case, I took the ‘traditional’ route.

These days, I find myself being asked for tips and suggestions that would benefit beginners in playing bass guitar. Of course, I could primarily speak from my experience, but being in company with other musicians have taught me more things. Here are some of them that I would like to share with you, in case you are wondering too:

  • acouisticAs mentioned, if you want to play the bass guitar well, it is highly recommended to be knowledgeable on how to play the standard, acoustic guitar first. This knowledge will serve as your guide when it comes to learning a new set of chords, as well as the rhythm of your guitar.
  • A bass guitar takes the role of holding music together. As such, it is very important to make sure that the bass guitar that you have is always on top condition. This can be done by tuning your guitar each time you use it.
  • Practice can make your skills perfect. As a matter of fact, even popular guitarists continue to practice in order to make sure that they do not commit a mistake while they are performing. In line with this, it is important that you have already mastered all the basics before you start out on some new techniques in playing.
  • Successful playing of your bass guitar depends on how well you really play the instrument, and not just on the number of styles that you know. Therefore, it would be too much if you overly focus on practicing new styles. In fact, I would personally suggest practicing your basic notes continuously, and do some chords switching along the way. As you continue practicing, you will learn to develop a dependable musical ear so that you can copy the songs you hear easily without depending on the chords.

Aside from these tips, getting a good bass guitar is also very crucial. Here are some suggestions I have when it comes to choosing a good bass guitar:

  • Do not invest on something huge now

If you are still a beginner, it is not recommended to spend too much on your guitar. In fact, all you need to do is to look for a good quality guitar which will allow you to learn more. Later on, if you have already mastered the tricks, you can upgrade to a more expensive one.

  • Consider comfort and playability

best bass guitarWhen choosing a good bass guitar, it is also important to think about comfort and playability. This means choosing one that feels very comfortable while playing it. The guitar needs to feel good as you hold it. It should also be very easy to play, and one that produces good sound.

  • Compare prices

typesI would never suggest getting the first acoustic guitar that you lay your eyes on. This is a common mistake by many. If you are really looking for the right one for you, price is a huge factor. It does not mean that the more money you spend, the better quality you can expect. As a matter of fact, you can get a high quality bass guitar without having to spend a lot of money. Compare prices from various shops, whether in an actual store, or online.

My passion in playing the bass guitar started when I was 13. I could definitely say that having a good bass guitar means a lot. I feel that my bass guitar is my partner. It took me about two months to decide which one to get, and have asked about ten people for suggestions. In the end, it was me who made the decision.

I did not regret spending time to do my own research. My bass guitar has been with me for several years now, and I completely love the way it feels in my hand.

piano lesson

How I Learned To Play Piano At Home

pianoI have always felt that my inclination towards music was brought about by the influence of my family. My mom plays the piano, which explains why I have also learned how to play the instrument. However, it was my grandmother who became my piano teacher. They even have a grand piano at my grandparents’ house.

I remember going to the house of my grandparents every weekend to have my piano lessons with my grandma. Looking back at those days, I never really thought of them as classes. In fact, the very first song I played was a ‘widowed’ one. I never started with learning the notes or getting myself familiar with the music sheet.

piano lessonLater on, my mother decided to buy a piano for me to practice with at home. However, she thought that having a grand piano would be too much for me as a starter. For that, they got me a digital piano. That piano is still with me until now, though it no longer plays the way I remember it to be.

But yes, that digital piano was a good starter at that point. I have noticed that these days, there are a lot of digital pianos that are available in the market. They come in different sizes and features state-of-the-art technology in music. Recently, we purchased a digital piano for a music school, and I have observed that modern digital pianos are a step higher than the one I used to own.

Are you planning to get one for yourself?

digital pianoI have gathered some useful tips on how to choose the best digital piano. You can use this guide in order to make a good decision before spending your money.

For one, keep in mind that purchasing a digital piano can be considered as a challenging attempt, especially if you do not have any background of it in the first place. If you are a beginner, one thing that you need to understand is that a digital piano is entirely different with an acoustic piano.

A digital piano is actually a ‘copy’, mimicking what an original, or acoustic piano should be. The difference, however, is that rather than hammers and strings, a digital piano uses sounds which have been ‘digitally sampled’. These sounds were used in order to imitate the original sound of a piano. These days, a lot of people prefer purchasing a digital piano because of its portability, low-maintenance, and other features.

digital piano 3

Now, let’s look into the features that you need to look for, as well as the things that you need to know.

  • A good digital piano is one in which the keys freely move beneath your fingers almost in the same way that the acoustic piano does.
  • At times, a digital piano may have a spring action that is damaged, which may impact the tone it produces. Therefore, it is highly recommended to bring a set of headphones with you in order to check each key before purchasing a unit.
  • digital piano 2When I look for a digital piano, I do not just stay and focus on one brand. It would be helpful if you try different brands so that you can compare and select the one that sounds better. After all, it is not the price range or the brand that makes the digital piano a good one. It depends on you, whether or not you are comfortable with the sound of the piano selected.
  • Check the range of tone. Does it change as you turn the volume up? What happens when the volume is done? The tone of the digital piano need to be consistent regardless of the volume.

These are just among some of the things I usually look for when checking on the digital piano. If you are really a beginner, it would be helpful to bring someone knowledgeable with you as you shop for a digital piano.

You can also take advantage of the knowledgeable assistance of the piano sellers. It would also be best to check on the features of a particular model by searching online. In this way, you can compare before you make a decision.