This post is in reference to my Jam-Record-&-Post Series where we are jamming recording with custom backing tracks to share with our peers.
Many of us have found, first hand, that recording music can be a frustrating endeavor. Here are some of the reasons why that is true (and why to do it anyway)!
1. Recording forces us to look into the mirror and admit that we are not quite as great, musically speaking, as we thought. However, the moment our output is not adding up to our expectations is the exact moment we then have and excellent opportunity to push in order to get there. This musical effort to "close the gap" is powerful when it comes to making improvements to our playing!
2. Recording makes us too nervous to actually produce and capture our best playing. It is true that it's easy to psych ourselves out, but in the end we learn a great set of skills associated with "jumping the gap" to step up and perform when it counts the most.
3. Recording forces us to admit that perfection does not exist. Sometimes our best recording is one that has a few minor issues that go along with a great energy that was captured in the moment. For this reason, I recommend that musicians record multiple attempts and then go back and listen to their top 3-5 choices. Sometimes during playback, one of the tracks will jump out as having "magic" that was missed previously when all we could hear were the few minor issues!
4. Many people do not like hearing their own "voice" in a recording. It is helpful, I have found, to imagine - during playback - that it is not you in the recording. Some people are not going to like their own work as much as someone else's, no matter what. It is easy to be over critical of ourselves, especially since we happen to know where all of the little mistakes are. However, when we listen to our best recordings as if they were played by someone else - or after enough time has passed to have forgotten our concern about minor issues - we are more likely to enjoy (and therefore learn from) what was created.
5. Recording forces us to invest precious time into learning how to use new hardware and software. How many of us would simply rather practice and/or just play instead of taking time to learn how to use recording hardware and software? If this is you, then you are not alone. However, I have seen many players refuse to invest in learning how to use valuable tools that could potentially have shaven years or even decades off of their learning curve (no joke)!
6. Recording, for all of the reasons mentioned above, takes a lot of time and energy. Once in a while I will zip through a recording project, but typically it is a lengthy process that requires an investment of quality time. The best thing I can say is that the valuable time and energy we invest while aiming to produce our best work is also time and energy invested in a priceless form of practice and growth that we cannot easily reproduce in any other way. Live performance, by comparison, provides a similar parallel, but the major difference is that we learn (through live performance) how to keep going no matter what, which is another powerful lesson learned.
7. Recording, if you are going to share it, takes guts! Jamming and recording puts us into state of self-reflection. The act of posting, then, takes that self-reflection to a whole different level. All of a sudden we are trying to hear our music from the perspectives of others, who are now listening, and we can easily find ourselves in a hyper-critical state. For this reason, the posting stage takes guts. However, this state also forces us, even more so, to hear and imagine the many ways we want to make improvements to our playing. In other words, it is a powerful way to get our brains in gear to hear and recognize the differential that exists between expectation and actual output. This is a powerful stage, to be in, that takes guts!
- Also, the flip side of recording our own work is the tremendous value of listening to the recordings of others. Each recording is going to have qualities that A) you want to reproduce and B) that you want to avoid. In this way, listening to and cheering on other players, on a similar journey, is going to provide yet another way to grow forward and enjoy the ride!
8., 9. 10... and the list goes on! :)
So... Are You Ready To Join Us In All The Fun and Madness That Is Jamming, Recording and Posting? If So: