Take Me Out to the Ball Game!


By Steve Oppenheimer

(October 2002)

I am an ardent sports fan, and I especially love professional baseball and basketball. I’m a dedicated San Francisco Giants fan and have attended major- and minor-league games all over the country. As for basketball, I am a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan — crazy, I suppose, but at least it shows dedication to the sport.

Team sports incorporate important values that are directly applicable to music making: teamwork balanced with individual achievement, physical conditioning, clean competition, fair play, courtesy, a striving spirit, and grace in losing. Yes, yes, I know pro sports are a big business and that many athletes don’t even come close to those ideals. Most musicians don’t reach them, either, but the ideals are worth cherishing, and in striving for them, success is possible on and off the field (or on the stage and in the studio).

Like athletes, musicians are well advised to learn their craft as well as follow their muse. Practice might not actually make perfect, but good practice habits will get you a lot closer to your goal. Top athletes and musicians know that good technique, self-discipline, good work habits, situational awareness, and proper conditioning make a big difference in their ability to reach their potential.

Athletes and musicians also want to live their dream. Amateurs and minor-leaguers play hard, aspiring to the big leagues. Meanwhile, they ride old buses between small cities and towns, patiently building their skills. Most will never make it, but that doesn’t stop dedicated players or musicians from giving it their best shot.

Those who do succeed generally have paid their dues along the way. Success for baseball players and musicians can be defined in many ways: Some will never be big stars but are ace role players who know their tools and their craft, are solid on fundamentals, play consistently well, maintain a winning attitude, and understand teamwork. Some players are true superstars, but most won’t lead the league in anything except games played for a winning team. Most successful managers, bandleaders, and producers employ several of these players along with the big stars.

Part of mastering your tools is choosing the appropriate tools to begin with. Sure, Barry Bonds can hit the ball 450 feet with his bat, but he’s an incredibly powerful man; maybe you need a lighter bat. Just because Bob Clearmountain or Elliot Scheiner prefers a particular hard-disk recorder doesn’t mean that’s the one you should buy. The fact that these champions use those tools certainly is a sign of quality, but their tools might not suit your style.

Choosing the right tools for the job entails knowing yourself. In this issue’s cover story, “Field of Dreams,” Associate Editor Gino Robair helps you get to know yourself better by providing you with a set of questions to answer before deciding which type of hard-disk recorder to buy. He then breaks down the three major types of hard-disk recorder and shows you how your answers to these questions help answer the question of which HDR is right for you. Just remember that the winner might be the big-name star, but it also might be the solid role player who never throws tantrums and consistently delivers in a pinch.