Your ears aren’t perfect

When playing under pressure and listen to yourself as you do so, your ears most often do not give you a correct idea of what you’re playing really sounds like. When you listen to it on tape you realize that not all of it is as good as it sounded. You will be able to identify minute glitches you may have glossed over, edgy transitions, and poorly played portions.

There will be parts where you have played out of key, or that just didn’t come out as it was supposed to, but not all of what you record will be unappealing. Rather, it often happens that the portions you thought didn’t go so well while playing turn out to be exceptionally good when you listen to them on tape.

Mary Williams
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Identify the trouble spots

If you avoid recording your run-throughs because you don’t feel sure of what you can and are playing, know that you are not alone in doing this. Most pianists have this fear but a prolonged avoidance of taping your music will affect you in the long run. Make it a point to play the tape when you begin your piano practice session. That way you will be accurately able to identify your problem areas, the portions where you get stuck.

It will also bring to the fore your real weaknesses and the aspects of playing that tend to fall apart when you are tired. It might be something you find thoroughly detestable but experts from music schools as renowned as Juilliard say all performing musicians benefit from making it a habit to tape themselves while playing.

How to record and modify your playing

digital recording device
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

At the beginning, the first thing you should strive to do is bridge the gap between what you think you are playing and what it sounds like in reality. That way you will have in your head an accurate map of where you exactly stand in terms of playing skills.

Are you slowing down during the difficult parts, are you flying through the relatively easier sections with unnecessary haste, are the pauses you are taking of the correct duration, are you playing convincingly enough towards the ending?

All these are questions recording yourself will help you to answer truthfully. But one thing is for certain, if you want to expand your capabilities beyond playing for yourself, the sooner you start recording your performances, the more you will be helping yourself since you will be able to pinpoint weaknesses and strengths and you can use this information to become a better pianist.

How do recordings help you?

Recording your play will help you round off your performance. A piece you are learning is never truly mastered until you can play it from beginning to end without any stops or hitches in between. Also, it is never finished until you yourself overcomes that uncomfortable feeling inside that what you are playing is not as good as it is supposed to be. Another facet about recording your play helps you attain a simulated feel of what a live performance is like.

When you tape yourself, you try to do as best as you possibly can at that stage of your expertise and experience. So in a way you put your best effort every time you are recording, which is akin to what pianists do during a recital.

hands playing the piano
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Downsides of recording

The biggest downside of recording yourself while playing is the fact that it is an extremely time-consuming process. You will have to take all the trouble of recording yourself. Then take out time to listen to yourself once that is done.

After that, once you have identified the problem spots and portions where you have gone wrong, you will again have to go back and re-record the whole piece from beginning to end after making the necessary rectifications to find out whether you have improved at all or not. But like all good things that take time and effort, the practice of recording yourself is sure to pay dividends in the future.

Give it a try, switch on a recording device and perform away to your heart’s content. Once you realize how beneficial the whole exercise is for you, you will know this is the right avenue to be on and it certainly beats practicing bad habits and not knowing where your weaknesses and strengths lay.

Featured Image: Image Credit

Related Articles:


piano-praco-rec-1The Benefits of Recording Your Piano Practice

You’ve invested your time and money into learning the piano. Get the most out of your practices by making audio and video recording of your efforts. Here’s why, according to science.

Many piano students rely on their instructors to tell them if something sounds “right.” Audio recordings allow you to evaluate your music and identify areas for improvement. Things to listen for include:

Pacing. Notice if you are playing faster in the easier sections and slower in the difficult ones, so you can smooth out these differences.

Tempo. Most pieces have a set tempo that is then increased or decreased for dramatic effect and musicality. Listen to the tempo of your playing, and note areas that need changes. Via Piano Plus



piano-praco-rec-2It seems so silly to waste space recording a simple piano practice. While it is quite normal to think this way, many professional piano players do in fact record their practices. This is not only because they want to listen to their own playing but also because they want to spot any mistakes and correct them before they become a habit and affect their performance. Here are other reasons why you should consider recording your piano practices.

Recording piano practice will give you time to listen to how you play and the music your produce. This is a good time critique your playing and technique. You can also find weak spots in your music and correct if necessary. While listening to your recording you can analyze your music, hear any mistakes in the notes and tempo or look for any weak areas in your playing. This way you will be aware and improve yourself. Recording yourself can be likened to studying for a test. You read the book, review and then test yourself against what you already know to be better prepared for exam time. Via BN Piano


13. Video Recording and Audio Recording Your Own Playing

piano-praco-rec-3One of the best ways to improve musical playing and to practice for recitals is to videotape or record it and watch/listen to it. You will be surprised at how good and how bad the different parts of your playing are. They are often very different from what you imagine yourself to be doing: good touch? rhythm? tempo accurate and constant? What motions are breaking up the rhythm? Do you clearly bring out the melodic lines? Is one hand too loud/soft? Are the arm/hands/fingers in their optimum positions? Are you using the whole body – i.e., is the body in synch with the hands or are they fighting each other? All these and much more become immediately obvious. The same music sounds quite different when you are playing it or listening to its recording. You hear much more when listening to a recording than when playing it. Video recording is the best way to prepare for recitals and can sometimes eliminate nervousness because you have a clearer picture of your performance. Via Fundamentals of Piano Practice