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Recording yourself is a two edged sword
The ups and downs
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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leftyuk
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September 23, 2015 - 8:04 am
Member Since: August 21, 2015
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I just had nearly two weeks of not playing the violin. Some due to life getting in the way, most because I recorded myself, and due to the fact we are mostly our own worse critic, I got so down with the result I had to rethink my progress.

It seems that as I play it sometimes sounds ok, which is lovely, but when I record and listen back, it sounds as if it is someone else playing..... Am really THAT bad???????

Of course the answer is 'yes', the recording does not lie. For me this most recent experience knocked seven bells out of my self confidence, I thought I was making good progress, and was excited about playing every day and that a recording or two would show this (imagined) progress. Alas, it did not. 

How is it that it sounded passable while playing but dreadful when listening back? 

I know that recording youself is a seriously useful tool whatever the skill level, but I wonder if it can also sometimes be detremental.

Coping mechanisms, anyone?

ps: I picked it up and played today, and I'm back on the case, grounded, but the love affair burns brightly still. Weirdly, it sounds different somehow... 

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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Jim Dunleavy
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September 23, 2015 - 1:36 pm
Member Since: April 19, 2015
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Yes, I've had exactly the same feelings when watching or listening to a recording. It can be disappointing.

You have to be realistic about your progress and have faith that you will slowly improve - looking back at old recordings of yourself is a good way to make yourself believe that.

I sometimes go back to an earlier lesson in my tutor books that I had trouble with when I was at that stage. Invariably, I find it almost laughably easy and can't understand why I found it so hard the first time round. That's a very motivating experience.

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DanielB
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September 23, 2015 - 9:20 pm
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Well, I wouldn't agree with "the recording doesn't lie".

Getting a good recording is something that can take as much education and practice as playing well.  It is very easy to get a recording that can sound distressingly worse than you may have actually sounded in person.  Violin is a difficult instrument to get a really good sounding recording of.

A bad mic angle, the room not being good for recording, the mic not being well suited for recording actual music, settings, noise.. Those are just a few of the ton of things that can go wrong. 

That's why people who work in recording studios get paid, and have quite a lot of gear and special rooms set up and etc.  Getting reliably good results isn't something that just automatically happens.

Recording yourself also divides your attention and you simply may not play as well because of that bit of distraction.   

Not saying that recording can't be useful as a learning tool and all, but please, don't try to decide if you sound good or not based strictly on a recording any more than anyone should decide if they look good based on a random digital camera snapshot.

For things like timing, even a simple recording can help you figure out where you maybe need a bit more work.  Intonation as well, but less so, since a poor recording can make even a good note sound "off" even though the pitch may actually be pretty good.  Most people will compare what they get when trying to record themselves with professional or at least experienced recordings.  That isn't a fair comparison and will often lead to disappointments.

You will hear people talk about what a valuable learning tool recording can be, but if you check, *most* of them will have better recording gear and more experience with it than the average beginner

So use it as a tool for what it is worth, get a few ideas of what to work on next from it maybe, but don't let it discourage you.  Your own ears or better yet, those of a friend or family member are usually a much better indicator of how you are actually doing when learning an instrument. 

Recording is a whole art unto itself and doesn't automatically give good sounding results from just hitting the red button.  It may not actually lie.. But that doesn't mean it is telling you the whole truth either. LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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leftyuk
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September 24, 2015 - 6:27 am
Member Since: August 21, 2015
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@Jim Dunleavy I hear you! You are right in being realistic. After playing 'in my head' and then playing for real, my expectations take a reality check, and it seems my playing has taken a step backwards. Onward and upward and PATIENCE.....

So many notes, so little time! :))

@DanielB It's not really about the recording quality, I have my own small studio and have been recording for many a year, and yes, acoustic instruments can be a nightmare. If something is played badly, the quality of the recording is irrelevant. I am wanting/expecting more from myself than I am currently capable of, I just find it weird my ears decieve me so easily! Lol

Thanx for the input guys, talking things through like this is invaluable! :))

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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DanielB
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September 26, 2015 - 8:35 pm
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Sorry, leftyuk.  I shouldn't have just assumed you were a beginner to recordings.  But so often people here are.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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