The Joy of Learning

I love to learn new things. The decision to leave stability and focus on music production has been motivated in large part to the joy of learning. No matter what becomes of this endeavor, I have enjoyed the learning process.

“Growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety” – Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

It has motivated other decisions that I have made in my life. About 10 years ago, I left another stable job to volunteer overseas in Ghana, West Africa. This was another questionable decision and big risk. Back then it was much of the same. What will you do after? Do you have enough money? Etc. However, everything turned out fine. And, as expected, it was a tremendous learning experience and one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I am a big fan of Carol Dweck and her book Mindset. Embracing challenge and not fearing failure is not easy, but it is something that I am constantly trying to work at. One of the key aspects of the growth mindset is to redefine success and failure. Success is learning and improving. Failure is an informative setback that motivates you to keep working.

I only started writing music in a serious way about 3 years ago. I think for a long time, I didn’t try very hard to write music because I didn’t think I would be good enough. I was hearing song ideas and thinking, “Nah, that’s no good. Forget it”. Or, I just lacked focus. Again, hard to overcome, but why not just start doing it and putting it out there? Work on it long enough to finish it at least. This is where improvement starts.

More than anything else, creative recovery is an exercise in open-mindedness. Again, picture your mind as that room with the door slightly ajar. Nudging the door open a bit more is what makes for open-mindedness. – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

I only started seriously recording and mixing audio about 1 year ago. After one year, I can notice a considerable difference in quality. There is still an enormous amount of room for improvement. It seems similar to playing an instrument where you can always continue to grow and improve, even if you are considered a master or virtuoso.

I am not the first person to say that you can learn anything on YouTube. Obviously this is an exaggeration, but I generally believe it. The internet is an extraordinary tool for self-learning. I know that people learn differently and for some it is better to be in a classroom or in a private lesson. There’s no right or wrong here. I just prefer diving in and doing it with the help of books and online resources.

The primary area of technical learning has come specific to this area, recording and mixing audio. It has been a joy to combine different skills from my background towards this aim — learning and understanding software applications, listening and critiquing sound.

My main source for this learning was the online instructional site,  PureMix. This is one of several online education resources for people who want to start recording and mixing. Some of the others are Nail The Mix, Pro Mix Academy, and Dueling Mixes. I can only speak to PureMix because that’s the only one I have any experience with. I thought it was enormously helpful. I let my subscription run out after 6 months because I felt (right or wrong) that the best way to continue my education was to just keep doing it. However, I did pick up a ton of useful techniques and knowledge from PureMix.

The other area of technical knowledge that I have gained is this world of WordPress, blogging, virtual business, and social media. I don’t need to get too deep into it, other than to say it has been interesting to dip my toes in. I feel I have gained some solid introductory knowledge of what goes on in that world.

This mini-retirement has also afforded me the opportunity to do a lot of reading. I am quoting a lot of books here in these blog posts in an effort to pull together those writings and my own experiences. This stuff mainly falls into the broad category of self-help. It has led to development of softer skills such as confidence, focus, and self-awareness. It has provided a guiding light in a way. Also, the comfort in knowing that many others have traveled down a similar path.

In a later post, I will list out some of the other books and online resources that I have found helpful in learning more about recording, producing, songwriting, the music business, video editing, creativity, and more.

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