Prepare a recording from a personal point of view. Prepare a recording from a personal point of view.

How to prepare and perform a recording from a musical point of view

Good habits to take and mistakes to avoid when recording

Preparing a score to record it presents technical difficulties that improve the knowledge of the musical work and makes you grow musically, therefore it seemed interesting to me to share some reflections dictated by my personal experience about it.

The article is structured in 8 points.

1. When is it a good time to record?

In my experience I have seen that when you are able to play the score several times without any mistake from the beginning to the end, with the right timing and the desired expression you are ready to record it.

If you can't play it as I said before, don't think that the recording can correct your mistakes: in fact, the recording will amplify any inaccuracy and confusion. Registering is useful as litmus paper to improve the general and specific knowledge of the score (see point 4).

2. How much to insist?

Personally I find useless insist all day to record a score if you fail after the first few attempts. It is true that maybe after spending a whole day in your room or in the studio you can achieve something, but what will be the result? A very bad recording because of yours "low batteries".

If after a certain number of attempts the recording fails it means that the score is not ready to be registered. Not yet.

3. Warming up

Warming up is essential to achieve a nice recording. To warm up it may be useful to split the recording in two moments: start the "warm up" playing the score a few times at different speeds, then take a break and record it.

4. Do not give in to frustration.

It has happened to me so many times to record 99.9% of the score and to always make that little mistake that cancels everything else and makes you lose the enthusiasm and the desire to record. In those moments I feel like I want to send everything to hell and use the bandoneon to light the fireplace. It is true that arranging certain small details requires a really impressive amount of time and exercise, comparable to the time it took to play 99.9% of the score correctly.

We must be aware of those difficulties, take note of them and not to be discouraged. It is part of the process of working on a score. Once you are aware of this you can decide if it is the case to improve your knowledge and performance of the score (and then postpone the recording) or "accept the mistake" (see point 8).

5. When you are recording, you’re playing for "someone".

The recorder (or the videocamera) is a kind of public that generates feelings of anxiety and stress like a real scenario. In this sense, registering is very useful because you test yourself and you understand which parts of the score need to be improved. The mistakes that occur during the recording in general are the aspects of the score that you have not incorporated sufficiently. In this sense registering is very useful because it shows what "flows" and what you still have to work on.

6. Breathe.

The performance of a score consists of keeping a huge amount of variables under control. One of these is breathing. During a recording the tension generates apnea and this negatively affects the execution. To solve the apnea problem, before registering it's good to do a series of record tests, to observe where you tend to go into apnea and correct yourself.

Similarly, recording is useful to understand which parts generate more tension and remember to relax yourself during those passages. In this way you study the score embedding in the memory of the execution everything that's useful to record it correctly: where to breathe, reduce tension, where to focus, etc.

7. Focus, when needed.

There is no need to maintain a constant effort in concentration. Some parts of the performance/recording require greater concentration, but in others parts you can use a kind of autopilot which does not require too much control and should be left free to "play" independently. Anyway, the mind must always be present as observer.

"Educate" the autopilot is part of the study process of the score, while learning when the mind has to intervene to support or to replace the autopilot is part of the preparation of the recording and should be incorporated into the process described at point 6.

8.Be self-demanding, but not too much.

It is good to aspire to perfection but don't forget to be indulgent with yourself and to tolerate certain mistakes, especially since most of them are "venial". In some cases it is more useful accepting those small mistakes and finish the recording to focus on a new one.

Conclusions

To conclude: I think recording is a fantastic moment to grow musically and artistically. It’s somehow in the middle between playing for an audience and studying on your own. It’s useful to prepare yourself for the emotion of the audience, as well as as as to test the knowledge of the score.

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