In this article we will discuss one of the most invaluable practice techniques known - recording yourself and listening. You would be amazed at how doing this on a regular basis can improve your playing in a much shorter time frame.
I find to often that the majority of my students are practicing and working on various scales and implementing them with a backing track only to never really grasp the subtle nuances that can make their performances elevate. One of the most effective self perception tools is having a student record a solo over a backing track that they feel confident with and then have them analyze their own performance.
Most of the time I get very shocked expressions and sometimes even some disbelief that their performances are never what they percieved them to be. I went through this myself years ago and I still do it to this day so that I can truly analyze aspects of my playing that I am trying to improve. Anyone can start doing this and I recommend that all students who are serious about the rate of improvement do this at the onset of their studies. Any recording equipment can be used. Anything from a cell phone to a flip video recording will do, even a webcam can capture a performance for self analysis.
To start pick a topic that is new and apply it to a backing track and record the performance. Start with slow, steady and deliberate performance of the idea and keep it slow! Many of us want to come out of the gates screaming and punching every note out from the very start. That is why this is a discipline. We as guitarists and musicians have to practice restraint. Without it we have no control over our emotions and what it is that we want to say with the instrument.
After the first performance you should be looking at the technique. Is it clean? Is it in time with the music? Are there any dynamics that can be better or is the phrasing in need of some work? Find what you like and what you don't and then do it again. Then again and again and again! You will start hearing a difference in how ideas flow together - or not. Then you can be aware of how you sound and what approaches you should take to get the results you want.
This is the most valuable tool for students and teachers alike and I can't stress enough how important it is to start doing this form of practicing from almost day one. You will see results faster and your students will thank you!
If you have any questions I'm always here to help and be sure to check out my Guitar Sherpa Room at www.truefire.com. Until next time keep practicing - Listen and Learn!
Joe Pinnavaia is a professional musician, guitarist, instructor and composer from Buffalo, NY, USA.
His first solo release, "InVitro", under the project name Test Tube Rhino, is now available digitally from iTunes and Amazon from Steve Vai's Digital Nations.
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