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I have a bad case of "red light phobia," and I have friends - better pianists than me - who have worse cases.

I'm seriously considering recording all my practice sessions, as a strategy to de-sensitize myself to the perceived trauma of recording. If, along the way, I come up with usable recordings of my pieces when I play them through, so much the better - I can clip and save them.

I am curious: Have any of you adopted the practice of regularly recording your practice sessions? If so, what do you perceive as benefits (or detriments) of that practice? Do you do it all the time, or only some sessions? Did you try it and give it up as too much trouble?

Thanks!


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I don't record my practice sessions regularly. What I do, however, is record "practice performances." That is; after working a piece up to what I consider is my best-for-the-moment level, I will set up the recorder and imagine that this is a performance moment. Without the relative casualness of just recording my practicing, I add the perceived stress that an imaginary performance might add. That helps show up the weak spots in any given piece that didn't necessarily show up in practice, and will show me where I need to focus more attention as I continue to (try to) refine the piece.

Regards,


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Thanks, Bruce. That's very helpful.


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I recently began recording myself a couple months back for the first time ever. I made it a goal to record myself for the 40 pieces a year challenge and I have only been recording for that. Eventually I plan to record more sessions. I too had red light stress but within a few weeks it has gone away. I would say the benefits so far for me has been hearing how heavy and mechanical I sound. I'm a beginner but it's still great to have a lot more self-awareness and to work on correcting it. However, whether recording or not I still get that voice in my head saying "don't mess up you've made it this far don't mess up now" lol

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Very good question. I record all the pieces I learned over the year. When I am getting to a point that I am getting close to be "Done" for a piece, I record it and sometime even a video recording. I might have several versions of it, but only the best one gets kept. This is my way of having a sense of closure -- It is a time to move on. The purpose of this is to have a full record of my learning journey. At my learning stage, I don't bother to maintain a repertoire of pieces I have learned. Therefore, it is particularly important for me to have a record for every piece that I learned.

I know what you mean by being nervous when you record. But over the time, the issue will be going away slowly. It may not go away completely. Having some level of nervousness could be healthy as it is an indication that we are serious about it. What has worked for me is the realization that learning piano is truly a journey. I would never be happy with how well I can play at any moment because our standard bar keeps on rising higher and higher. The joy of learning has to come from the process itself. Looking back the records made a few years ago, you can clearly see how far you have come.

Regards,


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My Pianoteq automatically records everything I play, so for audio I am already there. But every week I make a video that I submit to my feedback teacher, and then I do suffer from quite some "red light stress". Once, I tried to put the camera on record, but I didn't like it. My playing was neither a practice session nor a recording session. So I am back to having true recording sessions.

I read a book (Play it again, by Alan Rusbridger) that gave me a mindshift about recording. 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 lead to prolonged and tense recording sessions, and in the end, sometimes I am not even happy with the result. But now I have 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 when chosing which video to submit, I will chose the one in which I like my playing the best, and not necessarily the one without mistakes.


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Very helpful and constructive observations, Animisha. Thank you!


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Participate in the ABF Recitals. The Quarterly recitals roll around every 3 months. Preparing a piece and recording it for the recitals is a great way to get used to the trauma of recording.

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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Have any of you adopted the practice of regularly recording your practice sessions?

I record everything that is played on my piano, always. It started with the idea of logging practice time. See me asking about existing software in this thread.

I figured I need to make my own software for it, but so far didn't get around to it. However, I did implement the recording part of it. It consists of a few scripts on a Raspberry Pi. It reliably records all MIDI events 24/7, and also syncs them to a backup server. In the last year it has collected thousands of individual files tagged with date and time. Yet they occupy less than 100MB, being just raw MIDI and a bit of meta data to help with future processing.

I can go in manually and play any file through the piano to convert it to full audio, although I rarely do.

When I think a "performance" was good, I press the pedals in a certain pattern afterwards. This creates a detectable "highlight" mark in the recorded files, because the pedals also generate MIDI events. When the time comes, I'll continue working on the software to scan through the files, find better separation points, classify pieces, judge performance quality, generate reports, etc. I have lots of ideas, but not that much time. For now, it's just MIDI files.

Sorry if this went a bit off-topic. Basically I am recording, but in a way that does not address most of the things that you mentioned (like recording anxiety, or recording a piece with a particular intention).

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Originally Posted by pppianomarc
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Have any of you adopted the practice of regularly recording your practice sessions?

I record everything that is played on my piano, always. [...]

While I realize that close, attentive listening to one's playing is important to analyze one's skills and interpretation, if I recorded everything I play on my piano I would have to double my piano time, wouldn't I? I don't know how many people, particularly those who practice more than two hours a day, would have that amount of time to listen to what they have played.

Furthermore, how much of what they may have played during a practice session would be worth listening to?

Regards,


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ClsscLib, thank you for posting the question and to the helpful folks that replied that doing it more often can help with recording phobia. I suspected as much, but it's nice to read that it can actually work.

Sam S., I've just started submitting recording for the ABF recitals and have plans to submit for the next four of them.

Sebs, I've been thinking of doing the 40 pieces challenge next year for the sight reading benefits, but hadn't considered the benefit of getting more comfortable at recording. Thanks for the insight.

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I do record myself. Sometimes it may only be a small portion of a piece to see if I’m doing what I’m trying to accomplish correctly. Is it the right rhythm, are the sixteen notes even, is the melody heard above the harmony etc. I also try and get an early recording and a final recording of a piece I worked on so I can see the improvements I’ve made. I keep all those on my computer. I’ve been doing this for a few years so I don’t get recording phobia, but I haven’t recorded myself for the ABF recitals or anything like that. That would probably be a different story.


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Originally Posted by rwang101
Very good question. I record all the pieces I learned over the year. When I am getting to a point that I am getting close to be "Done" for a piece, I record it and sometime even a video recording. I might have several versions of it, but only the best one gets kept. This is my way of having a sense of closure -- It is a time to move on. The purpose of this is to have a full record of my learning journey. At my learning stage, I don't bother to maintain a repertoire of pieces I have learned. Therefore, it is particularly important for me to have a record for every piece that I learned.

I know what you mean by being nervous when you record. But over the time, the issue will be going away slowly. It may not go away completely. Having some level of nervousness could be healthy as it is an indication that we are serious about it. What has worked for me is the realization that learning piano is truly a journey. I would never be happy with how well I can play at any moment because our standard bar keeps on rising higher and higher. The joy of learning has to come from the process itself. Looking back the records made a few years ago, you can clearly see how far you have come.

Regards,

I love the idea of recording it and then being done with it because of your stage of learning. I'm at the same place and this is a great idea. However, there are a few pieces I like to pull out and play for "fun." (Even if my playing is not spectacular.) It gets to be a drag to be working on every piece I play all the time. Yes, the word "repertoire" is lost on me at the present time.

Thanks for the suggestion.


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I record to check how a piece sounds when I'm trying to finalize it or when I want to see how a particular section sounds. Right now I'm trying to get 2 short runs consistent and I will record that piece to check it. I usually pick up a slight hesitation on both in the same spot. Very frustrating.

I had a terrible time recording myself until I watched a YouTube video by The Cross-Eyes Pianist (yep, that's her name). She has a formal name but I can't remember it... She suggested finding what you did CORRECTLY on the recording - not the errors. Once I changed my mindset recording became so much easier for me. I have a hard time playing when I know my husband can hear me too but I'm getting over that. My new acoustic piano doesn't come with earphone! wink Good luck!


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When I learned enough of a piece, I'd take audio recordings to hear places to improve on. Next is the video recording by setting up a camera on a tripod shooting from behind. The camera will pick up places where the hands look mechanical or unnatural.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
While I realize that close, attentive listening to one's playing is important to analyze one's skills and interpretation, if I recorded everything I play on my piano I would have to double my piano time, wouldn't I? I don't know how many people, particularly those who practice more than two hours a day, would have that amount of time to listen to what they have played.

Furthermore, how much of what they may have played during a practice session would be worth listening to?

Regards,

Bruce, I was unclear in delineating my objectives. I have no intention of listening to every moment of my recorded practices. Time doesn't permit that.

My goal instead is to make recording less of a BIG DEAL in my lizard brain by doing it regularly at practices, including sections of my practice when I try to do complete run-throughs of my pieces in the later stages of their development.

If I end up wanting to go back over the recording to reflect on particular problems, to seek encouragement from what worked, or to save "takes" on pieces that go well, that's great. If none of that applies, I'll probably delete the recording immediately after the practice session.

The hope here is that, as Jack Aubrey says, "Use makes master."


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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
...If I end up wanting to go back over the recording to reflect on particular problems, to seek encouragement from what worked, or to save "takes" on pieces that go well, that's great. If none of that applies, I'll probably delete the recording immediately after the practice session...
Yes, you are on the right track. in the absence of an observer, a recording of your best sessions would definitely be a good substitute*, to improve your technique, performance.

*guys please don't get riled up, keyword here is substitute, and not a total replacement


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