Let me present you with a little scenario:
You have to record a sample of your playing for a summer festival application, a college application, or you are about to play a recital that will be recorded (and perhaps even archived, yikes!). You practice like mad, trying to ensure that everything surrounding this performance or recording session goes as planned. Your playing is recorded and you get some pretty good takes, maybe even a few that you say, that is the PERFECT take of the Mozart Concerto!
THEN…you go to listen to the recording and the first thought that comes into your mind as you hear the recorded sounds being played back is “WHAT?!?!”
I have had this very experience more times than I care to remember, and I am sure that many of you have too. The night I recorded my college prescreenings in high school, I had to leave the room and cry. My high school teacher, Nancy Stagnitta can even attest to this. But DO NOT FRET, there is a way to avoid this rather unpleasant situation!
My advice to you: record yourself AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE!
Many of us nestle ourselves into a comfy little corner in our playing, often becoming used to our own aural perception of our playing. Odds are, you don’t sound very much like you think you do from 5, 10 or even 50 feet away. This is what causes that dismayed reaction when we hear ourselves for the first time since our previous recording session, which, if you are not recording yourself regularly, could be once a year…
But if you record yourself regularly, you discover what you actually sound like, or you can at least gather how your playing might be being perceived by others. Fun fact: when you record, you are at a heightened awareness. I am sure we have all discovered that when we are recording, we notice small mistakes or inconsistencies that seemed to never be present before. This is not you all of a sudden making mistakes you have never made before, but now that you are at a heightened awareness, you are noticing mistakes that have been there all along, you were just not aware of them in the wash of everything else going on during your practice sessions.
Now, if you are like me, you might feel the need to record every single thing your play. If you do not have access to a recording device (see links and suggestions below) regularly, or simply don’t think you have the time to record, I would recommend setting aside at least one day, every week to record yourself.
Now let me present you with an altered scenario, where you have recorded yourself at least once a week over a longer period of time.
You have to record a sample of your playing for a summer festival application, a college application, or you are about to play a recital that will be recorded (and perhaps even archived, no problem!). You practice like mad, recording yourself regularly, trying to ensure that everything surrounding this performance or recording session goes as planned. Your playing is recorded and you get some pretty good takes, maybe even a few that you say, that is the PERFECT take of the Mozart Concerto!
THEN…you go to listen to the recording and you the first thought that comes into your mind as you hear the recorded sounds being played back is “THAT is exactly what I wanted.”
Now doesn’t that sound pleasant?
Good luck, and happy recording! See the links below for my recommendations on recording devices!
Recording devices of quality often come at a heightened expense, but if you can swing it, they are one of the best investments that one can make in their playing.
The H2n by Zoom is a wonderful, relatively low-cost recording device: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_7_5?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=zoom%20h2n&sprefix=zoom+%2Caps%2C116
The H4n by Zoom is an even more wonderful recording device for a little more of a price (this is my recording device of choice): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_7?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=zoom+h4n&sprefix=zoom+h4%2Caps%2C115&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Azoom+h4n
The Edirol is a recording device of comparable quality to the Zoom, for just around the same price: http://www.amazon.com/Edirol-R-09HR-High-Resolution-WAVE-Recorder/dp/B0016MLUKU/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1384876684&sr=8-5&keywords=edirol
The smartphone is also an option! The recording quality will not be of the same quality as the recording devices above, but they can still be used to listen for technical mistakes (critiquing one’s sound using a smartphone is not advised!). Try apps such as Recorder Plus or other apps designed for recording material aside from voice memos!