Recording yourself is one of the best ways to improve your abilities. We often have quite a different idea in our head of what our playing sounds like compared to the scathing honesty of a recording. If you record yourself and hear things that you want to improve then you have already learnt something and gained invaluable objectivity.
Many guitar students rely on teachers to give them advice on what to work on in their playing but armed with a recording device and your own common sense you will be amazed at how many things you can pick up and improve on your own.
Here is an approach that I recommend to my students:
1. Record your piece and listen back to it several times with the score in-front of you. Mark on the score (you may want to make some extra copies for yourself as they might get crowded!) all of the things that you would like to improve. For example, you might notice that some dotted rhythms are a little sloppy and that you didn’t play the dynamics/articulation that is marked in. You might even notice that you are playing some wrong notes!
2. Then, quite simply, go over those sections that need improving. If it sounds simple, its because it is simple. But then think about what your teacher points out in your lesson… “Your rhythm here is a little sloppy and you aren’t playing staccato here… actually come to think of it… isn’t that meant to be a G#?”
3. Be sure to keep all of the recordings you make and every few weeks go over the recordings to track your progress. Consistent errors or aspects of your playing that need fixing become very apparent through this process and the realization and acknowledgement of these problems is one of the biggest steps in fixing them
My philosophy as a teacher is to teach my students to teach themselves. Teachers are great when they inspire and guide, however, if a teacher does not have a final goal of enabling the student to progress on their own then the student will take a long time to begin trusting their own skills and intellect.
© Classical Guitar Review 2009