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The 1 Thing That Will Make Your Practice Recordings More Effective

The 1 Thing That Will Make Your Practice Recordings More Effective

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Here at Dojo U, we advocate making personal recordings of your practice for review. There are many ways to go about this, though.

I have a very simple recording system set up in the room where I do most of my practicing. I happen to use a Microsoft LifeCam video camera attached to my computer system. It records both video and audio. The audio is decent and suits my purposes.

The hardware is the easy part of adding recording yourself to your practice routine. Once it’s in place though, you have to decide what you want to record. Do you want to capture your entire practice session, or just record certain portions say, running through your competition music? Recording your entire session allows you to review your drills as well as your tunes, to make certain you’re hitting all aspects of what your working on. Recording your tunes gives you a more manageable archive of recordings.

So now what? You've recorded a bunch of your practice sessions, so what do you do now? In order for these recordings to be of any benefit, you must set aside time and listen to them. While you’re playing, your brain is focused on many things. You can hear what you’re playing, of course. But you focus on what’s going into the music, your technique, all the elements of good playing. Focused listening after the fact gives you the opportunity to be your own judge. It gives you immediate feedback and closes the gap between what you think you're doing when you play, and what is actually happening. A close review of your recording develops your listening skills.

Make notes on what you hear as you listen. Be merciless. How’s the tuning? Are you on the beat? Is the tempo drifting? Is that a crossing noise? Do you recording review as soon as is possible after your session. You will still have memory of what you were thinking and doing during certain segments. How did the instrument feel during that spot where your sound was not as good. Are you going through some "mental blowing" issues?

Listening to your recordings in this way will allow you to create an action plan for your next session. Develop drills that address your specific issues. Your next recording should be a bit better. Recording your piping may be essential for developing your skills as piper, but blocking out time for listening as a regular part of your practice is essential. Each recording will still show you the areas that need work, but addressing them one at time, with evidence and feedback, will keep you moving forward.

Take Action

For more information on recording your practice sessions check out these links.

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Tom Crawford Tom Crawford is Pipe Major for North Atlanta Pipes & Drums and a piping instructor in Marietta GA. He’s been piping since 2000, when he began his studies with Winter Taylor. Tom has played rock, blues, country and Celtic music for nearly 50 years. He’s been a member of Keltic Kudzu since 2006, where he plays mandolin, bouzouki, whistle, and of course pipes. Tom has played and competed up and down the Atlantic coast, as well as in Canada and Ireland.

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