Record Yourself

Welcome everyone! In today’s post I want to talk about recording yourself. You may be wondering, “why would I want to do that?” Keep reading and I’ll show you some benefits that come along with recording yourself. I truly hope this post will add value and benefit to you and your student’s playing. If this is your first time visiting this site, welcome and please feel free to have a look around. I would also like to invite you to check out my books (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony) at my Digital Store.

Do you ever have moments when you feel like things are going great in the practice room, yet when you get the bandstand things just are not working out? There could be a number of reasons that happens. However, unless you make a habit of recording yourself you might be attempting to fix the wrong issues.

When should you record yourself? The answer is anytime you’re playing! Record yourself practicing, rehearsing with the band and on the gig. Take note of everything that went well, what didn’t go well and what you need to fix. You don’t have to be hyper-critical over everything (let’s face it…NO ONE is or plays perfect), but take an honest assessment of where you were at in that moment in time. Recordings don’t lie and give you instant feedback. Anything that can make a recording will work. In today’s smart phone technology, most phones have a recording memo device that will suffice for most self-recording needs. There are options from very affordable to pretty expensive.

What are some things to listen for in a recording? Here’s a few below:

  • Ideas. From an improvisation standpoint did your ideas (lines, phrases, etc) make sense? Did they flow in a conversational way or did they wander? You might even find that you were grasping at an idea in the moment, but never quite got it right. Figure out what that was and work that idea out.
  • Technical Issues. Tone, articulation, flexibility, etc. Often times what we hear in our head or behind our instrument is not at all what comes out the other end. Again, recordings don’t lie. If you hear technical errors you now know what can be worked on during your next practice session.
  • Communication. This is more for recording yourself on the gig. How was your interaction with the other musicians on the stage? Where you having a one-way dialogue or were you a musical conversation with your band mates? I think there’s a time and place for both, but the recording will show you if it was at the right time or not.

I know it can be tough to listen to yourself on a recording. It is a sobering experience. However, if you practice what needs to fixed you will progress faster as a musician. I suggest you start recording yourself if you haven’t already. What are your thoughts? Do you record yourself? If so, what are some insights you have learned from doing it? Finally, take the average of your recordings. You’re never as good as your best recording, but you’re never as bad as your worst.

Speaking of recording, I’m hoping to try out the new Zoom Q2HD which does high quality audio and HD video soon. If I get the chance to pick one up, I will do a review for those that might be interested.

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Improv Tip Week #31-Benefits of Transcribing

Welcome to week #31, which is the first tip of 2012! If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage everyone to check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and invite you to check it out by going to the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music for more information. The E-book version works great on mobile devices (which is an instant download available all across the globe) and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. We should have the E-book version available in a few different languages very shortly.

Last week’s tip was on Transcribing Yourself. In this week’s tip, I wanted to talk about the benefits of transcribing (specifically others). Transcribing is one of the most talked about subjects in the jazz community. Regardless of the “how” you transcribe, the benefits are universal and important for every musician to do on some level. But, before we look at the benefits-let’s look at some of the “how’s” (just in case there’s a way that you haven’t explored). Every person has their own learning style and there are different ways that you can transcribe.

-Some transcribe a solo and write it down (whether on paper or digitally).
-Some transcribe a solo entirely by ear (they don’t write any of it down).
-Some transcribe licks or riffs and learn them in all keys (they may or may not write them down).

No matter how you do it, the important part of transcribing is (to quote Mr. Clark Terry) is to “Imitate, Assimilate and Innovate.” The benefits of transcribing:

-Ear training (making the connection between what you hear to what you play stronger)
-Gaining new vocabulary
-It helps you decide what becomes part of your personal style
-It connects theory to practice (try to get into the soloists head and ask yourself…why did that work?)
-You can work on your rhythm by playing with great musicians (when playing with the solo are you articulating the same?)
-It Develops concentration

Even if it seems intimdating at first, the more you do it-the faster you’ll be able to accomplish the utlimate goal of making that connection between what you hear to what you play. There are software programs out there to help out when needed. But, I would suggest doing as much of it as you can at the recorded speed. I’m also in the camp of those that learn the solo (or parts of it) by ear with my instrument. I find, for me, that I can make that connection faster.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip beneficial and start (or continue) transcribing! Let me know your thoughts. What camp of transcribing do you fall into? What are you currently transcribing? Are there other benefits that maybe aren’t listed above that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you and see this blog become more interactive in 2012. Please share this tip/blog with your friends and colleagues and let’s see 2012 become a year of personal improv growth goals!

Improv Tip Week #30-Transcribe Yourself

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Welcome to week #30, which will be the last tip of 2011! Since this will be the last tip of the calendar year, I wanted to encourage everyone to check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose one last time and invite you to check it out by going to the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music. The E-book version works great on mobile devices (which is an instant download available all across the globe) and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. I’m hoping to have the E-book version available in a few different languages towards the beginning of 2012.

If this is your first time to this blog…welcome! If you’re a returning visitor, welcome back! This week’s tip is called Transcribe Yourself. I don’t know about you, but I prefer listening to good musicians who sound like themselves. The world has plenty of carbon copies of just about everything. It’s refreshing to hear someone improvise from their depths. One way we can develop our personal sound is by transcribing ourselves. The great thing about this tip is that it’s great for every musician, regardless of their developmental stage. Beginners to advanced musicians can gain great benefit by transcribing what they hear in their head. Granted, advanced musicians can do this quite a bit faster (in the moment). But with time-beginners can reach that goal as well.

Here’s a simple 2-step process to get this started. First, without accompaniment, sing a line that you hear in your head. Second, play it on your instrument. Repeat this over and over with the same line or with new lines. If needed, you can write them down. I prefer that you don’t write them down, though, as you’re attempting to make the connection from what you hear to what you play. Eventually, this process will become faster and you’ll be able to make the connection in the moment. The great thing about this is you’re transcribing yourself. The lines you sing are the ones that have stuck with you (you’ve heard it somewhere before) or what is coming out of pure inspiration. Either way, they become personalized by the way YOU heard it and the way YOU play it. If every musician spent some time transcribing themselves, the world would have fewer copies and more unique musicians.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip (and start putting it to use into 2012)! Please share this tip (and blog) with your friends, colleagues and students via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites you contribute to as I would love to see more and more of our musicians across the globe have their own personalized sound. Let’s make 2012 a landmark year in music that the history books look back on in dedication with its own chapter!