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Music

Self-Estimation Sheet for Musicians

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

Self-development is a regular topic for me. I've embraced it throughout life. I made, however, a bigger commitment and achieved more in the last six years. 

Self-improvement is important in every area of our life; it's just as essential in the musical field.

These are the skills I'll explain:

  • Composition
  • Arrangement
  • Recording
  • Sound design
  • Mixing
  • Mastering

Composition

During music composition the composer creates the main musical elements. This includes rhythm, melodies and harmonies.

Arrangement

In the arrangement, the composer expands the song idea and creates the song structure. 

The author assigns instruments for the musical elements such as leads, bass and chords.

A list of song elements:

  • Introduction
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus or refrain
  • Bridge
  • Conclusion or outro
  • Elision
  • Instrumental solo
  • Ad lib

Structure can be marked with ABC letters. Here are some examples:

  • AAA: Bob Dylan - The Times They Are a-Changin
  • AABA: The Beatles - Yesterday
  • ABA: The Rolling Stones - Honky Tonk Woman
  • ABAB: AC/DC - Back in Black

There are more complex ones as well like:

  • ABABCB
  • ABABCAB
  • ABABCBAB
  • ABABCABCAB

Recording

In this stage the instrument and voice tracks are recorded in analog or digital format.

Nowadays people record in digital form with portable recorders or into a computer with a sound card.

Sound Design

A sound designer creates various musical elements using and modifying recordings (samples) and synthesis. 

For example she can take the sound of a piano key, load into a sampler and use a waveform from it, then use it as a bass sound.

Mixing

In this stage the mix engineer combines multiple audio tracks. The aim is to create a better sounding music. 

The mixer uses volume and panorama balance, equalisation, compression and effects. He can still be creative and work within the given genre and style.

Mastering

A mastering engineer sets the tone, loudness and dynamics of the track. The most used plugins are equalizers, compressors and limiters for this task.

Self-Development
It is a good practice to think through every Sunday what you did to improve yourself

Completing the Self-Development Sheet

Each part on the sheet is a relative value. A veteran and beginner producer can have the same 90% on composing. But their skill level will be different.

Time also plays an important role. The same producer may have lower or higher value on sound design if the skill level is relatively different in different periods.

Write down each skill level in percentage value from 0 to 100. Mark your best skill between 90 to 100. Then go to the next and write down that as well. Continue until you have finished each.

Here is my sheet for example:

  • Composition: 65%
  • Arrangement: 75%
  • Recording: 10%
  • Sound design: 75%
  • Mixing: 95%
  • Mastering: 90%

My best skills are mixing and mastering. Then comes sound design and arrangement, and finally composition and recording. I create a lot of music and I also do mixing for them.

Self Development Notes
I saved my self-estimation sheet in Notepad

Plan For Self-Development

Here are some steps on self-improvement:

  • Define the fields in which you want to improve
  • Prioritise
  • Set a deadline
  • Understand your strengths
  • Recognize weaknesses
  • Develop new skills
  • Take action
  • Get support from fellow musicians and engineers
  • Watch videos and tutorials
  • Take a live course if possible
  • Measure your progress

It is important to focus on one area at a time. For example you can do mixing for half a year then recording one year. You can also fill in the self-development sheet in every half year.

You can do statistics on it or draw pictures about the connections. It is also interesting to do your own sheet about improvement.

Getting Feedback

You can ask fellow musicians and engineers to rate your skills on the sheet based on your music. Ask for honest, constructive feedback from people you trust and know.

Objectivity

It is important to keep a mental distance from each feedback. When you think and observe the results for the sheet try to answer to these questions:

  • What is the bigger picture?
  • What are the details?
  • What is the story you are telling to yourself?
  • What is the feel of the story?
  • How does the given field apply to your path?
  • Are you satisfied with the results?

Summary

In this article I explained each musical field in the sheet. I stressed the importance of self-development. 

Continuous improvement is crucial if you want to stay in the game and produce better results. If you reach a high level, you can be competent even in the international music industry. 

Good luck, take action now.

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