To Record or Not to Record

Recording 101

Recording 101

Musicians of all types can benefit from recording their music. The beginning banjo, guitar or mandolin student may cringe at the idea of listening to themselves on tape. It is sort of like listening to your own voice, which I think the majority of us can agree, is not the most enjoyable experience.

What are some of the benefits of recording your music and your practice sessions? First, when you play music (especially when performing on stage), it is very difficult to ascertain what exactly the audience hears. You may be playing too soft or too loud. Maybe your rhythm is not precise or maybe you speed up your lead play in the middle of a song. The benefits of hearing what you previously played can be many. Through recordings, you can hear what you play and work towards improving your skills.

Should beginners voluntarily or involuntarily be recorded?  Some teachers use recordings of recitals as a learning tool.  This debate to record or not record, however, can be a source of aggravation with a classroom of students. For instance, one of my classes had an experience where they were recorded by another student without their knowledge.  Some of these beginning students felt uncomfortable after being recorded, especially when I thought it would be a good idea to have each student subsequently critique their particular song.  So, even teachers can learn from the experiences of their own students.

While I see a value in recording audio and even video of your own music,  the classroom session may not be the best place to do it.  After all, the goal of the teacher should be to encourage and not to discourage beginners; some of who have a difficult time adjusting to performing in public. While it may be beneficial, not all students want to to be exposed to being recorded at the early stage of their development as a musician. Yet, I would never disregard the benefit of using recordings to learn.

As an experienced musician and teacher, I place a value on recording lessons to benefit my students.

Recording Can Be An Effective Tool

Recording Can Be An Effective Tool

This is the first of a series of blogs I plan on running, regarding the process of recording music.  In the future, I will be discussing a variety of issues such as portable recording, private and group audio and video production, instructional recordings, technology and equipment, and the process of building a home recording studio.  As each issue is separately addressed, I encourage readers to post their experiences with recording music. Remember, many readers can learn from your successes as well as your failures.


About fretmentor

Born in Detroit, Michigan, David F. Jakubiak has been involved in music since the age of 7, beginning as a clarinet player and then at 9 turning his attention to stringed instruments. He earned trophies in group talent competitions while a student at the University of Michigan. The instructor earned a BA degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. At college, he also studied classical music and music history. His passion is teaching music and in performing as a musician. In addition to on-stage performances, David has played in various venues from outdoor festivals to small nightclubs. He plays, performs and teaches various styles of music, including rock, pop, blues, jazz, classical, country and bluegrass styles. He performs and teaches acoustic and electric guitar, five-string banjo, and mandolin. His styles range from Scruggs, melodic, Reno and old-time style on banjo, to finger-style and flat-picking technique on guitar, to various styles of mandolin. For over 45 years, Mr. Jakubiak has taught all age groups, taking a personal interest in each student to ensure that they receive the attention and lesson plans that meet their needs and interests. His lessons and instructional materials place a strong emphasis on the practical use or music theory to ensure that the student understands the instrument and learns how to improvise to develop their own style. Mr Jakubiak teaches group and studio classes, webcam lessons over the internet, and individual private lessons to students of various ages. He has compiled and produced eight instructional books on CD as well as numerous instrumental arrangements. David has written for Banjo Newsletter, a monthly publication for the banjo enthusiast and has published an article in Issue #37 of the Fretboard Journal. He is the founder of To contact David Jakubiak, please feel free to e-mail him at david AT (substitute the @ sign for the word AT)
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9 Responses to To Record or Not to Record

  1. avatar George Parham says:

    As a musician having played bass in an 80’s rock n’ roll band I know the value of being critiqued by fellow band members. Although it was not so professionally done at the time I valued the outside view and it always helped me improve. I’m all for recording audibly and video. It would be nothing but good for me. Now enrolled in Fretmentor’s class learning to flat pick the guitar, my eyes are really open to communicating with each other and it[being recorded] would help me improve. Look at each other and the people who are listening to you. It’s an experience for everyone. When performing in front of others one of two things happen, you capture them or you don’t. The components to playing are first of all, have fun. People like to see people having fun. The rest comes with how seriously you’re taking your playing.

  2. avatar Tigerpaws says:

    I find that for beginners the recording issue is a double-edged sword. Although it is good to hear one’s mistakes, building one’s confidence is a lot more important at this level. If an instructor is available to point out the good along with the bad then it’s constructive criticism and for the most part we take that well. Having classmates point out what went wrong doesn’t work well. I have yet to meet anyone that wasn’t trying their best even when it sounded terrible so at this level perseverance and patience is a better tool. However once we have gained some experience recording and listening to ourselves is a wonderful tool… my humble opinion. 🙂

  3. avatar Screendude says:

    I was a beginning student in the class that was recorded and ask to review. Although I was uncomfortable with being recorded with out my knowladge and shocked when I recieved a e-mail asking me to critique those performances, I was pleasently suprised how well our little group sounded and actually kept the recording.

  4. avatar Brilind says:

    I am very guilty of not taking the time to record my playing. I know that you have to hear your imperfections to correct them and when we are playing we are so preoccupied with playing that we don’t listen enough to what we are producing. Gotta get out my recorder. I know, I know.

  5. avatar rocky says:

    Years ago my music teacher decided to make a recording of my progress on the piano and it was a great aid in understanding how I could improve my skills. It is a helpful tool and I would encourage a music student to record.

  6. avatar George Parham says:

    I’ll admit, I’ve never been exposed to using a recording in a classroom environment for learning purposes but, I’m all for it no matter how abrupt it might hit me.

  7. avatar Bobby Clyde Hickox says:

    I haven’t had the occasion to be recorded. I’m still in my early stages of performing. I’m sure
    that the learning experience would be benificial. Just have to keep practicing.

  8. avatar dave2311 says:

    I can see alot of value of doing a recording in your studio at home while practicing. Maybe it’s a chord progression that sounds cool, or a new technique, i think it would be beneficial. It makes you hear yourself from a third person perspective. I think videos in class would be cool. Fretmentor could post them on the site, and we could download them for our own critique.

  9. avatar espian says:

    I believe recording my music has been a benifit. Both at home and in class. There is no question about the mistakes I make. They’ll always be there so why not learn from them. I’m in favor of recording the class because it allows us to hear not only ourselves perform but, and here’s the important part, how we interact with other musicians. That’s what we’re here for right?

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