Why Musicians Should Record Themselves.
As a musician you have to produce a sound, keep time, listen to your fellow musicians and complement what they are playing with yours; and if improvising, create a musical statement in the moment.
That’s a lot going on!
Given all of that, actually listening to what you really sound in real time like is a bit of a challenge.
But what if you could listen to your own show? Listen to what you really sound like? Would you be happy with what you would hear?
Listening objectively to your playing by recording your performances is a great way to really get inside what is actually going on.
And recording your practice sessions and gigs is incredibly easy now!
What to ask yourself when listening back to your playing.
What parts of your performance or practice make you cringe? Was it a one-off mistake, or a consistent element of your playing?
Once you have identified the parts you don’t like come up with a plan to fix them. It might be tone, timing, or a change in technique that is required to execute the notes more fluently.
What parts bore you? Maybe the performance was technically proficient, but it was missing ‘something’. For example, if you are an improvising musician, do your solos take the listener on a journey, or are they merely groupings of notes that don’t achieve this? Is your singing in tune, but do you sound boring?
What can you hear that needs obvious work? Perhaps your chord changes were not as fluent as you hoped? Perhaps your solo was to repetitive? Perhaps it was not repetitive enough? Perhaps your instrument was out of tune? How was your volume compared to the other players? How was your tone? How was your articulation of the notes? Did you remember to breath?
And what parts did you really like? Take encouragement from those, and see how you can further develop and expand on those elements in your playing.
Some people (me) can be very hard on themselves when listening back to a recording. Instead of holding the attitude of how bad you are, focus instead on how this is revealing how you can improve. Improvement is not a negative thing at all. In fact, it is a very positive thing to focus on.
And you can use your old recordings to listen to how much you have improved.
A phone is an obvious way to record yourself, but if you are looking for something a little better, perhaps the Zoom Q8 camera is a better option? The sound quality is better than a phone, and it is possible to perform multitrack recordings with this, and then mix the results.
If video is not an issue and you wish to produce recordings of a higher quality, something like the Steinberg UR22C recording pack might be just what you need. The audio interface is superb, the pack comes bundled with a lite version of Cubase for a computer, and well as the option to record directly to an iPad, as well as a microphone suitable for vocals or an instrument, and some good quality headphones. This is a great option for the person not just interested in recording their playing for a learning experience, but also in producing their own music.