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Taping Yourself To Learn and Improve

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Cybergrass LearningAlmost every artist or band has a box full of recordings of their performances. Many of these recordings are gathering dust and are really just a piece of history. There are some groups however, that critically listen to their recordings over and over again. Some artists even view videos of themselves. They aren't being vain, they're the learners trying to perfect their act and move forward. In the music world, there is always a way to be better.

Recording oneself is an essential part of the learning process. Learn to work the mic; learn to enunciate better; learn to work the audience; Learn...Learn...Learn! Every artist can learn by watching their mistakes. When I was an active photographer, I saved all my bad photos and even cataloged them by the kind of mistake and what I was really trying to achieve. I used those albums repeatedly to get better at my trade. The same holds true with music. You learn from your mistakes and, everybody makes mistakes.

Concerts are probably the best venue to record. They are more intimate than lose festival performances where you're on for an hour and then the next act performs. Concerts command the attention of the audience for 2 or three hours or more. The audience is totally focused on the artist and, the artist should be focused on giving the audience the best performance they can. This is a mutually beneficial experience and should be nurtured and enjoyed by both sides.

Tape has no mercy. It captures everything in honest detail. You miss that chord or flub that word, the tape captures it. Spending hours watching your past performances may seem silly at first but, an artist rarely remembers their mistakes a week later. The tape never forgets. A year from now, you can see what you can improve on.

If you had a rough time at a festival one year, save your tape. Then, if you're lucky enough to get booked for another year, review your tape before your performance. Watch what worked and what didn't. See how the audience responded and when they didn't. Watch what really worked for other bands that you were lacking. Watch, listen and learn. You'll be better for it.

Keep the taping and critical review a positive experience. You're doing this to be better -- not to put anybody, including yourself, down. It is your own honest review of yourself or your band. It should be something you want to do. The experience should be enlightening and informative and not be used in any negative way.

If you are really serious about improving, get somebody outside your sphere of influence to review and comment on it. Possibly another band or artist or, a good fan, local venue agent -- somebody who understands your music and and a criticle ear and eye.

Trust me, every artist and every band has room to improve. I know I certainly have room to improve. Make those recordings (audio and video) and after a few months, sit down and disect them and see where you can. You may just surprise yourself and hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise.

Remember to also look for the good -- not just the bad. Yes, you'll make mistakes but, sometimes, those other moments shine. Those times when you were definitely in the groove. Those times when everything just worked. You want to cherish those moments too.

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