Essential Secrets 82: Record Yourself
The Power of Objective Listening
As a practicing musician you are expected to do the impossible. While playing, you are supposed to listen carefully to identify everything that needs improvement.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to play bass and listen to yourself at the same time. Trying to critique your sound as you create it is distracting and lessens your ability to play your best in the first place!
What’s more, musicians are often inaccurate when they assess their own playing. You might think that a run-through went well because it felt good to play, regardless of the actual sound produced. Similarly, performers who struggle through a few sections often report that the run-through went badly—even if they played beautifully. These subjective judgments give you an unclear picture of the true quality of your bass playing.
If you want to save enormous amounts of time in the practice room, don’t evaluate yourself as you play. Instead, record a run-through. Do not judge or criticize your performance as you create it. Simply play, in the zone and totally focused. The recording device acts as your audience, teacher, evaluator, and critic. You are simply the performer.
After you finish, listen back to the recording. At that time you will form an objective opinion of the sound you produced by answering these questions:
1. What did I do well?
2. What can still be improved?
3. Was my playing consistent?
4. Do I need to fix any recurring issues?
5. Are my dynamics, phrasing, and tonal variations effective?
6. Did anything sound different than I thought it would?
Without recording yourself, you can waste years focusing on the wrong aspects of your bass playing. By listening to a recording of your playing, however, it will immediately be clear what you sound like. Your assessment of the performance will be objective and accurate. You’ll finally know if your musical intentions are clear and if your performance is meeting your expectations.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET