I gotta get something off my chest.

My kid Owen loves Thomas the Tank Engine. (Like, obsessed.)

Needless to say, we end up watching Thomas videos a LOT around the Gilder house.

And I have to admit…Thomas annoys the crap out of me. Every episode goes like this:

  • Sir Topham Hatt has a “very special” job for Thomas.
  • Thomas screws up the job.
  • Sir Topham Hatt is “cross.”
  • Thomas makes everything right.

If I was Sir Topham Hatt, I would have fired Thomas a long time ago.

(I don’t care if the show is named after you, you big blue hunk of metal.)

But it makes me think (as all things do) about music and recording.

If you’re just getting into recording, buckle up. You’re about to make a bunch of mistakes, and that’s totally FINE.

The key is to realize the mistake, analyze it a little bit, and make the necessary changes to prevent it from happening again.

See, Thomas doesn’t do that.

He does what he wants to do, then after he’s caused “great confusion and delay,” he immediately goes into clean-up mode. He screws it up, cleans it up, and goes on to do it again in the next episode…rather than learning from his mistake.

Let’s say I’m playing guitar at church one weekend. If I refuse to rehearse beforehand, I’m probably going to make a bunch of mistakes. If I continue to do that every single time I play, at some point somebody needs to smack me around and point out that I’m not adequately preparing (and that would be the right thing to do).

It’s the same with recording. If you’re constantly boosting the low-mids in your mixes, and you’re constantly getting really muddy mixes, you need to change what you’re doing. Continue doing the same thing, and you’ll continue to get the same results. (And people may be “cross” with you.)

Don’t be Thomas the Tank Engineer. Don’t do the same silly things over and over. At some point you’ll become fed up with the whole music thing, and you’ll move on to something like disc golf or scrap-booking.

Please don’t do that.

Commit to learning the craft, to mastering the tools.

Make mistakes, then correct them…then next time you can avoid those mistakes altogether.

To learn how to be a “really useful” engineer, who uses EQ like a boss, toot on over to: