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Recording yourself is one of the best ways to improve your abilities. We often have quite a different idea in our head of what our playing sounds like compared to the scathing honesty of a recording. If you record yourself and hear things that you want to improve then you have already learned something and gained invaluable objectivity.
Many guitar students rely on teachers to give them advice on what to work on in their playing. But a recording device and your own common sense can help you pick up on so many things and improve on your own.
An approach to recording yourself
Here is an approach that I recommend to my students:
1. Record your piece and listen back to it several times with the score in front of you. Mark on the score all of the things that you would like to improve. (You may want to make some extra copies for yourself as they might get crowded!) For example, you might notice that some dotted rhythms are a little sloppy. Or you might find you didn’t play the dynamics/articulation. You might even notice that you are playing some wrong notes!
2. Then, quite simply, go over those sections that need improving. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is simple. But then think about what your teacher points out in your lesson. “Your rhythm here is a little sloppy. And you aren’t playing staccato here. Actually come to think of it, isn’t that a G#?”
3. Be sure to keep all of the recordings you make. Every few weeks go over the recordings to track your progress. Consistent errors or aspects of your playing that need fixing become very apparent through this process and the realization and acknowledgement of these problems is one of the biggest steps in fixing them.
My philosophy as a teacher is to teach my students to teach themselves. Teachers are great when they inspire and guide, however, if a teacher does not have a final goal of enabling the student to progress on their own then the student will take a long time to begin trusting their own skills and intellect. Recording yourself is one way to teach yourself.
I also participated in the Guitoberfest and can only agree with Bruce on the value of the course. It was a great experience. So much so, as a matter of fact, that I’ve signed up for annual membership now.
About technology, I can say I used a Zoom recorder for my videos. The device has a USB connection which made for a very easy transfer to my laptop. From there I was surprised how easy it was to upload directly to You Tube. I only dared to upload as unlisted so just the Guitoberfest participants were able to find it. That’s nice to know about the forum showcase.
The challenges you pose here are excellent. I will try them, too.
Thanks for the podcast!
I am Chris from Germany and I am a recent member of CGC.
I like your podcast about recording. I have tried it a lot in audio and video and my reaction almost always was to exclaim: Oh my God it’s awfull, I shall have to start all over again – not just with this piece – but with my whole practice routine . . .!
So here is what I found out for me: We all tend to play too many and too difficult pieces at the same time. So when recording yourself, select one of your easiest, but musically inspiring pieces, just pick one beautiful phrase, memorize it, and then record it on audio repeatedly until you can say: That’s it, I love it! Then contine phrase by phrase, until you can play the whole piece by heart in a relaxed and musical manner. Then you can try a final audio recording for your friends.
Only then you can repeat the process on video, which will inspire you to nothing more than another exclamation of: „Oh my God it’s awfull!“ at first. You will discover a whole practice program of visual and technical aspects to correct. (For me it was about: Flying fingers in the left hand, lack of alternation in the right hand, body posture, grim expression on my face etc. etc.)
Facit: Improve all this with just one inspiring piece. Only when you are really satisfied with it, go to the next one.
I also found out, that looking at recordings of the masters on YouTube, like e.g. David Russell, Ana Vidovic, Jason Vieux, or your recordings for that matter, inspired me to thrive for a much better quality of sound and playing. You can absorbe the musical quality you are seeing and hearing and almost automatically scale it down to use it in your own simple piece. (In my case Op. 44 by Fernando Sor).
Recording myself always reminds me of the universal insight, that doing less sometimes can be much more.
I hope that helps!
My best to all to all the reader and members, who are struggling with the same issues.
P.S. Segovia once said: You have to practice the guitar as if you would live forever. And he almost succeeded.:-)
Thank you so much for your encouragement! I take it to heart.
Good to meet you
Thanks for your helpful, incisive comments.
I have NEVER recorded anything but after listening to the podcast I’m going to try. I am sure it can only make us better as players.
I also like your comment about trying something you like, but something that you find easier to begin. I have taken that on board and am going to have a go at the Tarrega Etude in E minor. Its brief, simple in its organisation etc with no really difficult passages. Sort it all out today, work on tomorrow and record at the WE…..
Thanks for inspiring me along side the podcast to ‘have a go’
Just relistened to this podcast as I intend to start recording myself regularly…. I noticed towards the end there was mention of the intention to put together video tutorials at some point, but I’m guessing its not something that ever came to fruition. They aren’t out there already and just hiding from me are they?
There are not yet video tutorials on recording yourself at this time. We are hoping to continue to add to the site but I don’t have any idea of a timeframe for these—I do know Simon’s been hard at work updating the course videos and materials and that along with Guitoberfest and certificate course submissions has made other projects delayed a bit. Thanks for the question and stay tuned!
Dave B (CGC team)
Thanks for the quick reply Dave,
No worries about the tutorials. I’ve got plenty to go on as far as recording myself with this podcast and the blog post as well as a some forum posts I came across. It just struck me as I was listening and I figured I’d ask as I’d be interested in the added insight into Simon’s process.
Hi Eric, have a look at this, perhaps it will answer some questions?
Thanks Simon, definitely a lot of great info in there. It’s very helpful indeed. I’m looking forward to starting to post videos in the next couple of weeks, and I’m eagerly absorbing as much info as I can about the process. Loving the coursework so far btw! Time to get back to it :)
As a beginner on classical guitar, I spend a lot of my practice time just learning a piece – concentrating on hitting the right notes in the right order! When I have (more or less) learned a piece I record it. I find that this forces me to think again about phrasing, dynamics etc.
In the past I have deleted these audio files once I have done with them. I like your suggestion to keep them and go back to review progress. I find it quite difficult to judge whether i am making progress. I seem to always be ‘struggling – quite naturally since, as I progress, I tackle more challenging pieces, always working at the frontier of my ability. I think reviewing these recordings after say a few months might provide some perspective on what i have (hopefully) achieved.
As I start to record my first level one 10 pieces, your 3 suggestions at the end of this podcast are very welcome.
i will make the analysis and i will record them all again before oct 2017 to submit.
the information is overwhelming and time is limited
keep on going strong with the CGC
Here is a problem I have with recording: Even if I know I am recording only for myself, I make mistakes that I don’t make when playing away from the recorder. I know the places where I have problems, and work on them. I play the measures over and over, and finally get them right. I play the entire piece over and over, and the problem measures are fine. But as soon as I turn the recorder on, oops! It is a psychological problem. Any suggestions about that?
Hello Simon, I’m native from Puerto Rico and I always wanted to learn classical guitar. I used to play conga drums with hispanic bands in my younger years. Now I’m 68 yrs old and disabled veteran. I learned to play piano for 4 yrs at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Temple Texas while attending music therapy. Now I’ve been learning to play the guitar, been trying for 1 1/2 yrs. But my main goal is to learn play puertorican folklore music. My technique has improve a lot with your GCC toolkit. Thanks.