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Prepare for Success in the studio - by John Vestman
Being prepared is more than just practicing your music.

Quincy Jones knew about preparing when he produced the hit, "We Are The World." In dealing with so many superstars, he put a note on the studio entrance that said "Check your ego at the door." Quincy knew that there would only be a select number of musicians who would end up on the finished record, even though many of them would start out tracking on the multitrack master. It was inevitable that someone was going to get dumped!

Key: Being open. Quincy had to prepare all them to be open to giving their best performance, regardless of whether they ended up on the record or not. By releasing their attachment to the outcome they would all satisfy a purpose greater than any one person. This didn't mean giving up who they are. It meant bringing who they are forward with an eye on the perfect end result. Being open makes seeing the perfect end result easier.

This is "expanded thinking" in action. Expanded thinking means you know the power you have as a unique human being, and you also know the power you have when your pesonal agenda is flexible, instead of rigid. This is one of the most common success techniques used by the best studio players in the world. They do their best in the present moment and they have an open, balanced viewpoint of the whole picture.

Are you prepared with the right attitude, the right tools, the right amount of discipline combined with spontaneity? Or are you resistant to opening more doors in order to have more results in your life? Sometimes it's our old beliefs about things that keep us in a pattern of resistance.

Hidden: Our inner belief system often shuts down our openness. On the outside we may think that we deserve success, but we may have a pattern of saying, "I can't afford to pay for more music lessons." And then our growth toward success is slowed down because we set ourselves up to afford less. Maybe what we think and what believe inside are two different things.

Key: If you consciously choose to be open, you will start to undo self-defeating beliefs. Being closed is a form of resistance. Being open is a way of releasing resistance without giving up who you are. When we're open, big things can happen. It's like having a much bigger mitt for your opportunities to land in - and it's key to be aware of the source from which your opportunities come from. And just what IS the source?

Important: Your source isn't money. Your source is people. Every check you have ever gotten has come from people. Every gift or meal or kiss or coupon or record deal or food stamp or dinner date has come from people. Every idea, every thought, every notion you've ever had has come from either you or from other people. People are your source.

And knowing how many people there are out there, it's almost unthinkable that we don't have a massive overflowing abundance of everything, We must really have a lot of resistance going on for us if we're still broke or unsatisfied at what we're doing! And like I said, much of our resistance is subtle. We don't know it's there and we don't stop to think in a different way so as to be less resistant. And musicians have a special challenge in the area of resistance.

Trap: Musicians often learn their craft by repeating the same pattern over and over again. Step-by-step, you start out slowly, finding the best fingering position or the correct posture, and you repeat the drill many times the same way. Eventually, you get it under your belt, and then the teacher gives you something more advanced. Again, you lock in a pattern of focused repetition to reach your technical goal. When you've gotten it technically, you bring in the other elements of interpretation and feeling, but the pattern of repetitive, linear action becomes your standard map for achieving results. And, it works!

If you think about it, using just one patterned method - is simultaneously resisting sixteen other methods of reaching the same goal! Now maybe it doesn't make sense to use sixteen different fingering positions to play the same riff, but if we don't practice being open to a variety of solutions, we don't tend to be accustomed to looking in a variety of places for solutions! We tend to get stuck in narrow thinking. We even develop selective loyalty to a particular teacher, and often find it uncomfortable changing over to someone new!

This pattern of thinking begins to blend into other areas of life. We get comfortable recording another demo, when we've only sent the first one out to five different places, or we haven't sent it out at all. We get stuck thinking money is tight, but we shouldn't risk seeking an investor because we we'd have to give up a piece of the "pie." We use the same manager or producer even though our sales haven't risen above the level of the first hit record, and concert attendance is dropping. We leave another love relationship because women are all the same, or men are all the same. This is all linear thinking, instead of expanded thinking.

John Vestman is a veteran mastering engineer with over 26 years in the industry. His credits include: Hole (Courtney Love), Juice Newton, Ambrosia, Andre Crouch, The Wynans, Great White, Candyman, Billy Davis Jr./Marilyn McCoo and more. John Vestman Mastering is located in Orange County, California, and his web site offers over 40 pages of information about successful studio recording techniques and sound philosophy.

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