July 22, 2011 at 9:02 PM
Christian Howe's blog this week about recording yourself play made me wonder, how many of us actually do so?
Christian said that recording yourself play is the number one way to become a better player, a pretty emphatic statement! But he makes a very valid point.
As a teacher, I've heard many students say, "I could play it SO well at home, and now at my lesson, it just isn't going as well! I don't know what it is!"
I actually do know what it is: You think sounds a lot better than it really sounds, in the privacy of your practice room.
"No, that's not it!"
Yes, it is. There's reason why people like Itzhak Perlman say that 15 minutes on stage in a performing situation is like 10 hours in the practice room: your senses are at a heightened state of awareness. In other words, you actually hear yourself when you play in front of people, or when you play for your teacher.
Recording yourself play has a similar effect because you are heightening your sense of listening by taking away all those other distractions caused by playing, such as moving your arms, reading music, remembering the music, performing the dynamics, etc. etc. When you are listening to your recorded self you are doing only that: listening.
So how often do you record yourself play, and listen to it?
I voted every few months, which is my normal routine. However, when I'm working something up for a performance, it is more like at every practice session - daily or weekly. When I listen, I do so with my sheet music in front of me to take notes.
Recently, I've started using video. It brings in a whole new level of self-scrutiny: funny facial expressions, crooked bows, obvious tension, seeing the source of shifting issues, etc etc etc...
Sometimes, we are our own best teacher.
Ditto what the previous poster (Mendy) said. Recording oneself and listening to the playback is very helpful (and revealing). I once had a teacher who would record his students' lessons on 90 minute cassette tapes - when the tape would run out, that would be the end of the lesson. I've continued to do that myself with subsequent teachers (and have recommended it to my students). That also is very instructive, and I've found that by practicing with the recording (listening to what the teacher said, and then stopping the playback and working on the passage to achieve what was suggested), I get more out of the lessons.
I play a lot in front of a big mirror to see my obvious mistakes in body movement and I record myself often. After noticing how bad I can actually sound while thinking it is ok, I put recording myself into a routine and try to do that as often as I can. The improvement is tremendous - tt helped me learn how to actually listen to myself while playing. Now I tend to notice more even without the recordings.
In the 80's We recorded performances, rehearsals, practices very, very often and such were very valuable aids for us. Quite often with very good recording devices we did better than we thought during the performance. Recording did reveal at times the dynamics of an auditorium and what needed to be adjusted by all involved, such as voice volumes to be increased or decreased..... the dynamics of the pieces to be performed had to be re sculpted, adjusted, and readjusted which honed our skills of flexibility, serendipity, pretty much everything we ever learned up to that moment had to be conjured up and often we learned something new which made us better and more mature.
This is a timely one for me. Recording myself is definitely something that I've been meaning to do more regularly to use as a tool for improving my playing. I already record my lessons in order to be able to refer back to what my teacher said (rarely get around to listening to those!) and I have a very simple set-up so I just need to hit the button & play. I'm polishing pieces right now for a workshop and playing along with recordings though headphones to see what still needs work, so it did recently occur to me that recording myself would be a great way to do that.
Do you find that recording audio only is enough or video is a must-have?
What do you use to record?
I use my iphone and the audio is not great.
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