“Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes!”
– Peter Venkman
The above is one of my most favorite quotes of all time. This could quite possibly be one of the best pieces of advice to ever be given. It works for anyone in just about any situation. My theory teacher, who was also the head of my music program in college, told us in class one day, “Always say yes, if you don’t know how to do it, you better learn”. Its one of the few things I remember from college, and also the most important. Here are a few scenarios where I’ve applied it: Q: Can you record and mix a few songs for a television show I’m writing music for?
A: Yes (I had never recorded or mixed someone else’s music before, for any medium, let alone gotten paid for it)
Q: Do you think you’ll be able to run sessions in the studio in a week?
A: Yes (probably the only answer to that question, but the studio was brand new and I had only a vague idea of what I was doing. Of course by the end of the week I could run it with my eyes closed)
Q: Can you teach my son to play piano/Can you teach the midi lab/Can you teach Pro Tools/Can you teach….
A: Yes (I just make it up as I go along, also teaching is fun, and probably one of the best ways to learn there is, of course I didn’t know this going into it)
Q: We need an Orchestral Score for our film in a month. Do you have time? And can you give use three opening examples this week?
A: Yes (Holy Sh-t, what have I done?)
Q: Do you have time to work on a demo?
A: Yes (No)
Q: You do session work right? Here play this.
A: Ok (gulp, but it lead to a great collaboration with a great band)
This could probably go on forever, I’m sure you get the point, but I’m going to sum it up anyway. Don’t’ be afraid to get in over your head and take some risks. The worst that can happen is you screw up, and you’ll never get the call again. But making a mistake is a great way to learn, and you certainly wont get called back if you say no right off the bat. I’m sure some of you out there have had some musical sink or swim moments. Please share them!