Recording yourself and listening back to that recording can be one of the most invaluable tools in your self-improvement as a musician. It allows for critical analysis of your own playing, but from an audience’s perspective. It will quickly reveal your technical flaws and give you insight into how your music may affect an audience.
If you have listened to a recording of yourself, you may think it’s an embarrassing experience. Every mistake becomes crystal clear. It’s important not to shy away from this situation, but to use it as an opportunity to grow as a musician. The benefits of this process will accelerate your improvement.
The greatest benefit to recording yourself is the ability to experience your music as an audience, as opposed to a performer. When you are performing music, it’s incredibly demanding on your mental capacity. The focus is on perfect execution and technical elements that facilitate it. It’s important to be able to step out of that mindset and try to experience your music as if you’re hearing it for the first time.
Some questions you might want to ask yourself:
- How does the music make me feel?
- Is there any technical deficiency I can improve upon?
- Does it keep my interest throughout the whole performance?
Until the revolution in digital recording technology, musicians’ creativity were constantly limited by what tools were accessible to them. The biggest limitation would arguably have been the necessity of hiring other musicians to perform parts for an arrangement. It was financially unreasonable to be hiring musicians just to try out every musical whim a composer might be taken with. That ability was reserved for only the elites with wealthy patrons. Now we have access to as many (simulated) instruments and tracks as our computers can handle, at a fraction of the cost, and with the ability to make as many revisions as we want.
One of my favourite artist, Jacob Collier, has said that he considers the recording experience as one of his greatest teachers. This is a guy who has gone to music school and has been mentored by the likes of Quincy Jones. We can all see the result of his hard work, though, and it’s hard to argue with that!