“Keen self-listening is central to musical excellence.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 16
Without the ability to hear ourselves precisely, we can’t perform to professional standards nor solve problems in practice.
Fortunately, today’s digital recorders empower us musicians to appraise our work accurately and objectively.
This post sums up 5 main benefits of self-recording and highlights some of the best digital recorders on the market. [Updated May 2020]
Five Benefits of Self-Recording for Musicians
1. Sharpens Musicianship
Recording sharpens our musicianship in that we can gauge every facet of our playing or singing with an impartial ear.
Whether we record a single phrase in a practice room or a full-length concert performance, we can stand back and listen as if someone else had produced the music.
We can then refine our sound and execution in line with our insights.
2. Prevents Distorted Perception
Self-recording prevents distorted perception because we’re able to evaluate our work without any interference from the actions of generating the music.
Also, for many musicians, especially vocalists, their self-perceived tone quality necessarily differs from what their audiences hear. A recorder enables us to perceive how we actually sound to our listeners.
3. Heightens Practice Efficiency
Self-recording heightens efficiency in practice by not only thwarting distorted perception but also boosting accuracy.
If you’ve ever realized at a rehearsal or lesson that you had practiced a passage wrongly, then you know how wasteful inaccurate practice can be.
Self-recording, combined with acute listening, helps us be precise from the start.
4. Enhances Lessons
Recording lessons and coachings enhances our learning because, following sessions, we can review and take notes.
Given that music instruction is so dynamic, along with the fact that there isn’t time to take many notes, self-recording ensures that none of the advice we receive is forgotten; it also frees us to focus on the tasks at hand without worrying that we might forget any instructions.
5. Promotes Objectivity
The last benefit I’ll cite is that, when we rehearse in groups, self-recording helps us appraise our work objectively and minimize conflict.
As an illustration, rather than debating whether someone was out of tune or too loud, group members can record excerpts and listen back to uncover faults.
Recommended portable recorders:
- Zoom H6. Extraordinary six-track recorder with 24 bit, 96K capability.
- Zoom H4n Pro. Outstanding sound quality & features. A musician favorite!
- Zoom H2n. A top option for self-study recording.
- Zoom Q4n. Handy for video & audio. HD camcorders at Amazon
- Tascam DR-22WL. A less-expensive but good-quality audio recorder.
Adapted from The Musician’s Way, page 17
© 2014 Gerald Klickstein