Record yourself!

Red Henry

That's right. Record yourself. That is one of the best ways to hear exactly what your playing sounds like, and to find out what you need to work on.

In years past, recording yourself was very easy and cheap to do, with the inexpensive cassette recorders that a lot of folks had. Modern technology makes recording almost as easy (but not cheap) by using video cameras or small high-tech audio recorders. Even most digital cameras can take a movie--with sound-- of your playing. But whatever your favorite device is, just record yourself playing a couple of tunes. Then play them back and see what you sound like.

When you hear your music played back, it might not sound quite as good as you thought it was going to. (My band-leading, banjo-playing brother-in-law Mike says that for him, recording music-- and listening to it afterward-- is as pleasant as having teeth pulled. But that's just his opinion.) Now, I'm not saying this trying to discourage anybody from playing. If in the playback, you don't sound like Earl, or Ralph, or J.D., or Murphy, that's not a reason to give up playing, or even recording. The point is that you can really hear what your playing sounds like. You can hear all your notes, and your timing, and your rhythm. And if you are playing steadily enough on the tape to play along with yourself during the playback, that's excellent! You've come a long way, and are ready to play with other people, whether you feel like it or not!

Sometimes when you hear yourself for the first time, you might be discouraged. But this doesn't mean that your playing normally sounds the way it does on the tape. Any time the tape is rolling (or any other recording is going on), you're going to have it on your mind, either consciously or unconsciously. And it might affect your playing. But the more practice you get recording, the better you'll play each time you record, and when it comes time to listen back to the tune, the better you'll sound. Recording and listening is great practice, and can sure help a person's playing!

Record yourself!


2 thoughts on “Record yourself!

  1. Dennis

    Red, Thanks for reminding me to record myself AGAIN. Murphy and Casey keep saying it. I make a note to do it after every banjo camp I go to. But for some reason I am reluctant to record myself (perhaps for the reasons you mention). Someone said that recording yourself is like looking at yourself in a mirror after a shower: it reveals what you need to work on.

  2. lauren

    I agree..I recorded myself for the first time last week..and heard how “boring” I sounded..needed to add more bounce ..sounded better the next time ! Helps us to critique our own playing when someone else won’t !

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