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How do you do the recording for an online-recital?
I am not talking about microphones and cables and other tech-stuff. This thread is meant to be a poll about playing strategies in order to get a recording you want to publish.

a) Do you play until there was a little mistake and then start over, because you want to have the perfect recording?
b) Do you play the entire piece and accept little bloops here and there, but only in case of a fatal mistake you start over?
c) Do you play the entire piece and take the 1st recording because it is what is is and this is closest to a live session?
d) Or is your playing that secure that the 1st attempt is perfect, anyway cool

Do you opt for a technical failure free playing? Or a fast tempo and liveliness at cost of accuracy/failures?
And how many recording attempts does it take?


Let's start:
Me was about 20 tries on a single evening and I accepted some wrong notes here and there!
I said to myself, 1 minor failure per minute playing time is okay for my level (Option b).
And if I had during playing the impression, it sounds kind of lifeless: I stopped, took a deep breath and started over again.
Playing time was about 3 hours in total with a big break to recharge the batteries of my video-camera, and some smaller ones to deal with camera-overheating.


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For me, its option e smile :

e) Play it through, and if the errors are small enough, accept it for the recital, otherwise treat it as practice.

Sometimes I have submitted pieces for the ABF recitals knowing fully well that I did not yet have the ability to play them "perfectly", i.e. "works in progress", but I prefer to feel resonably secure in their performance before submitting ("reasonably" because perfection is unattainable).

It can require more than ten attempts, but normally I'll accept it after four or five recordings.


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I never think about recording until I am happy/confident I have the piece[s] nailed down. Not perfect, but pretty confident.

Once you start recording, you soon realize how prepared you are. My choice: B. It may take a few takes to get over the nerves.


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My system is as follows:

1) I limit myself to no more than 3 takes in one session. Usually for me the 2nd take is the best with the first being a kind of warmup. I used to do more takes but found that beyond the third take things get increasingly frustrating and silly mistakes actually start increasing not decreasing. If I don't get a worthy take in 3 takes, I realize I need to do more practice and analyze the recordings to identify problems and things to improve, and probably about half of my recording sessions end this way. This rules also limits the amount of time to 15 or 20 minutes that I need to ask my family to keep the house quiet.

2) I play through nearly every mistake as if it were a live performance. I'm very cognizant when I make a mistake, but I also realize that I will notice the mistakes much more than any casual listener would, so I give myself the chance to assess the severity of the mistake post recording. This also helps me assess whether I'm really ready to record a performance or whether I need more practice on the piece. The only exception to this rule is when I make a silly mistake in the very beginning, I will start over and not count that as a take.

3) I consider a piece good enough to publish if I'm happy with the character and expressiveness of the performance and there are no more than a few minor mistakes that are adequately spaced apart. I don't hold out for a perfect recording because it will never come. Usually I know which take I'm going to use after the session, but sometimes I decide only after listening carefully to the recordings a few times. Also, sometimes I use a take with more mistakes if the character and expressiveness are better.

For my most recent recital submission, I played the first take and made a few glaring mistakes but played through the whole thing. On the second take, I make a flub about 5 seconds in and aborted it. Then for the full 2nd take I nailed it. I knew I was going to use that one and didn't even bother to do a third take like I normally do. The recording session took about 10 minutes.

And for the question about trading off tempo and accuracy...I usually find that a slightly faster tempo with more mistakes is worse than a slightly slower tempo with fewer mistakes, but it depends on the type of music and piece. For classical pieces like Bach and Mozart especially, sloppiness sounds slow and precision sounds fast.

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I made my recording yesterday with a cell phone, and because of that the quality is not so good. So I can blame the recording and not my performance smile The piano was on the short stick yesterday and I noticed a slight vibration/rattling. You can hear it in the recording. Should I do another one? No, I don't have time!


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A mix of b. and c. in my case. I am not looking to be perfect, only acceptable to the ears of my family smile Over here on this forum, you are my family and although I will never know what "acceptable" means to you, I am going to trust that you will all be forgiving.

I always try to make two recordings: one video on an acoustic upright with iPhone HD recording, and one digital recording using on board recording feature of DP. The latter is what I will post to recitals. However, if I like the video recording a lot and if it doesn't have too much background noise, I will extract the sound out of it and use that.

Last edited by mmatthew; 08/09/21 09:13 AM.

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I do what I call a long leader. Starts for me are the hardest. So I fumble around, then crop the file. Strange enough, it otherwise only takes one or two tries. There's no such thing as perfect, for me. But anything is rehearsed enough.

Last edited by Farmerjones; 08/09/21 09:14 AM.

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Originally Posted by mmatthew
I am not looking to be perfect, only acceptable to the ears of my family smile Over here on this forum, you are my family and although I will never know what "acceptable" means to you, I am going to trust that you will all be forgiving.

I love this!

Jason's write-up is great. I also limit myself to only a few takes per day, because after that things just go downhill. I usually start recording and will have several restarts. I can always trim the file later. I've only done a few recitals so far, but this also applies to other pieces where I just want to get a nice/polished recording.

The first recording session is never great. There are lots of things I realize I've been missing (dynamics, expression, etc). I use that as my improvement tool. I just run through it once or twice every day that I practice after that. Recorder is always on; sometimes that first play-through goes unexpectedly well. The amount of takes really varies. If it's something I have been playing for awhile, maybe only 3-4. If not, maybe upwards of 10. At that point I either accept the best one and move on, or decide it's just not ready and I'll put it away for a couple weeks and try again later.

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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Do you opt for a technical failure free playing? Or a fast tempo and liveliness at cost of accuracy/failures?
Ideally it doesn't have to be a choice between those two options. Some would argue that if one cannot play a piece at the desired tempo with confidence and accuracy, one has to do more technical work to improve that. For amateurs, this is not always a reasonable approach.

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Jason Lenthe +1

Exactly how I do it, including the max 3 attempts and that 2 is usually the best.

Main comment is that I don't consider 3 fails as "needs more practice" as I did already all practice I thought necessary before I even started recording. Instead, I repeat just the next day. Usually I get a good recording in a few days.

I also play the very first try a little slow.


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>Do you opt for a technical failure free playing? Or a fast tempo and liveliness at cost of accuracy/failures?

I often can not even reach the ideal tempo, it's very often a slow-down to get good accuracy (where "good" is my own verdict, others might say great", "borderline" or "inconsistent"; also my own judgment might vary over different days).


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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
a) Do you play until there was a little mistake and then start over, because you want to have the perfect recording?
b) Do you play the entire piece and accept little bloops here and there, but only in case of a fatal mistake you start over?
c) Do you play the entire piece and take the 1st recording because it is what is is and this is closest to a live session?
d) Or is your playing that secure that the 1st attempt is perfect, anyway cool

I start out with b, however I do try to get a, which is not a "perfect recording" but a recording of me playing as best as I can for now. Usually I do get a recording that I am satisfied with, but it happens that I don't get it, and then I need to make the difficult decision of trying again one day later or accepting my flaws. I try not to work on the recording for too long, and I try to avoid starting over because of a little mistake. However, once I have made a recording that is almost, almost as good as I want it to be, it is hard, because while playing the piece one more time, I often find myself thinking that I played better on the previous recording and then it feels meaningless to finish the piece.


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A beginner piece usually don't need too many retakes. Practice well. When ready to start, just sit quietly for long enough to calm down before playing.

When you get to more advanced pieces it's not just the notes we're trying to perfect. We're down to little nuances like hitting notes louder/softer, too much or not enough sustain pedal, a trill sounding sloppy. I rarely accept the first take. It's usually up to 10 retakes in a day. If I feel I'm not quite ready, I'd do more takes the next day. Any problem spots that come out repeatedly I'd work on them and take sound samples until I get them right before connecting the pieces.

If the recording is on video, get a good camera angle that allows the viewer to see both hands playing. Clean up anything in the room that would cause distraction. The camera is usually on a tripod unless someone is holding the camera so he can rotate to see different angles.

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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
a) Do you play until there was a little mistake and then start over, because you want to have the perfect recording?
b) Do you play the entire piece and accept little bloops here and there, but only in case of a fatal mistake you start over?
c) Do you play the entire piece and take the 1st recording because it is what is is and this is closest to a live session?
d) Or is your playing that secure that the 1st attempt is perfect, anyway cool

The upcoming quarterly recital is my 49th, and my approach has changed over the years.

I used to do A, doing many takes to try and get a perfect recording. It never happened, of course, and I had to settle for the best I could do. Eventually I realized doing multiple takes was counter-productive.

Then I switched to something similar to B. The fatal mistake almost always happened near the end, Or immediately after I thought, "this is going well" - then I made a fatal error.

But, like Jason, I only try a couple of times before I stop and practice instead. Trying to do multiple takes only results in more errors.

Now I am sometimes able to do C and get something acceptable in just one take. I don't worry about little errors, as long as I get the message across that I am shooting for.

But D will probably never happen for me...

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
A beginner piece usually don't need too many retakes.

Unless you are a beginner of course... whistle


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I’ve been away for a couple of years so haven’t submitted lately.
But, when I did join in my recordings are all c- one take and done.

That’s not to say I don’t play it through a couple of times before recording. But, when the recorder gets turned on, it’s one and done.


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My approach is to start recording and then play through a couple of times without stopping the recording, then cut out my favorite take afterwards. This way it's more like a rehearsal session with the microphone turned on and the nerves settle down a little after the initial attempt. Also, after I have one complete play through without major errors I think: "if I mess up then I can always use that take". That makes me more relaxed and I can usually play better after that.

Other than that I agree with Jason's points. Doing more than a few attempts in one sitting is counter productive. There are days when you flub a lot and somehow the playing doesn't come out as you like and other days where you are in the zone and everything seems to flow. If today is not your day then try again tomorrow.

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How could I forget?

Half a year ago, I read Play it again by Alan Rusbridger, and I had a mindshift about recordings. In the book it was discussed that pianists up to the 18th century had much more musical freedom to play a piece as they felt like, but as recording and technology advanced, more people knew exactly how a piece should sound, and there came a greater emphasis on perfection - also in the conservatories.
And I realised that when I make a recording, I play as if I will make a cd - every single note should be correct. This can result in a prolonged and tense recording, and in the end, I may not even be happy with it. But because of what I read I decided that instead of thinking cd, I will think concert. If I make a small mistake, I'll try to just continue to play instead of making a full stop. Of course, I can still make several recordings, but in the end, I will chose the one in which I like my playing the best, and not necessarily the one without mistakes.


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The time spent making the perfect recording will go unnoticed. Very few, if any, will listen to the piece as critically as you will listen to it. However you played at that time is correct smile


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Originally Posted by Sam S
Then I switched to something similar to B. The fatal mistake almost always happened near the end, Or immediately after I thought, "this is going well" - then I made a fatal error.

My experience exactly. And disappointedly, more often that I have the stomach for :-(


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