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Thread: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

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    Default The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Oh, the unexpected (but valuable) things we see and learn when we sit in front of the camera to record our progress!

    How often have I felt I was chugging along quite nicely on a new tune, only to make a video and see that...

    No, actually that passage sounded hesitant... Or,

    Wow, the mic hears my mando just fine from the front and I really don't need to dig in so hard. Or,

    Those weird mouth movements of concentration and my serious death-day stare at my left hand reveal so much unnecessary tension in my body -- and make it look like I'm working at hard labor instead of making music -- as if I'm a wrestling match with a mandolin, and the mandolin is winning!

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Video and audio recording of my practice has been one of the recommendations of instructors at the camps I've attended. Listening to the recording while counting ymy timing revels any issues.

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    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I always assume a camera is running, even if I can't see it.......
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I record myself as a way of simulating performance anxiety when practicing something i am going to have to perform.

    I avoid being caught in a video.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    A violin teacher of mine (over 40 years ago) required me to routinely record myself with a cassette recorder.

    Man, was that ever painful to listen to! But very instructive.

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    “The weird mouth movements.”

    Guilty, my wife makes fun of me for that��

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    Registered User Steve Lavelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I find having a beard hides the drooling while playing.
    Steve Lavelle
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Have you noticed how many of us who post over on the SAW group and elsewhere leave our heads/faces out of the camera shot? The excuse it that it focuses the viewer on the hands, but the truth of it is that we can then hide our facial twitchings and scowls! I have been guilty of this as much as anyone, and have recently made the decision to include head and face in my videos. Only snag is that the bald dome causes lens flare!
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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    It needs to be done, but it hurts so bad!

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I played at a family member's wedding years ago and in one of the pics realized that I get a pre-snap linebacker look of intensity when I'm concentrating. I still do it occasionally, but have worked really hard to look more relaxed and, simply, smile, when I'm playing, especially with/for others. The "tape don't lie," for sure...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Mouth movements!

    I was so bad at that when I played in a band years ago.

    I thought everybody in the crowd loved my mandolin solos, they smiled so much.
    What I didn't know was that the guitarist and pianist were behind me mimicking my mouth movements!


    Now here's a tip:

    Apart from going to workshops with distinguished visiting mandolinists, I've never had a lesson in my life.

    Except for when I got an included Skype lesson with Enda & Martin of We Banjo 3 when I bought a CD & book and crowdfunding donation to help them fund a US tour.
    They looked at me playing and generally said nice things but noticed that tension was cramping my style.

    "Force yourself to breathe steadily and regularly" was the gist of their advice that has helped me a lot.

    It's not as instinctive as you might think - when a tricky bit comes up, one tends to hold one's breath and tense up, and only breath with the phrases of the tune and that's when the mouth movements start too.
    Bren

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I think early on, in the journey recording is a great idea. But eventually i had to stop. I nit-pick everything apart, and it sometimes made me nausious just listening to myself. I instead started talking to the players around me. Not driving them crazy with too many questions about myself. Just paying attention. I find if one records or not , the biggest sin in playing ensemble, is poor time keeping. Sometimes one can thow anythiing in there as long as it's to the beat. : )

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Video just serves as a reminder (although often a painful one) that music is something that's *performed.*

    And, to do it reasonably well, one not only has to learn the instrument but also learn at least a little about how to perform -- at least enough that we can look relaxed and play with less tension, and the audience enjoys it more too because we look like we're enjoying ourselves.

    Want a mental image to call upon when modeling this? Well, there are many in just the bluegrass world alone. But one that always comes to my mind is actually a country musician: the late, great guitarist and vocalist Don Rich, Buck Owens' wingman in The Buckaroos. He had that impish expression and 50-kilowatt smile, and always looked like he was having way too much fun up there! And whether it was true or not, it always made me smile too and enjoy the music even more.

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Re: Weird mouth movements -- Other than making oneself keep breathing (great tip), has anyone else conquered this habit, and how? Does forcing a pasted-on smile work (just because the mouth can't do anything else if it's smiling all the time)? Or maybe that could just increase muscular tension too.

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    On the other side of the coin... After a certain point, occasionally you may notice *nice* things about your own playing - things that sound good in the video, but you didn't even realize you were doing those things. Once in a while you might even discover some cool lick that you can re-purpose or modify to use in other tunes as well.

    Having video proof that you don't always necessarily sound as bad as you'd feared, can actually be *good* for morale.

    And then there's the test-of-time thing - re-watch a video a few months or years later - do certain parts of it still sound as good as it did before? If so, then presumably either (a) those particular aspects of your playing really *were* good, or else (b) your playing and ear hasn't matured any since then. Hard to know which of those, sometimes.

    In any case, yeah it takes some courage to record yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    Have you noticed how many of us who post over on the SAW group and elsewhere leave our heads/faces out of the camera shot? The excuse it that it focuses the viewer on the hands, but the truth of it is that we can then hide our facial twitchings and scowls!
    Some of us have different reasons. Personally, generally speaking, I don't like how some internet strangers become 'too' interested in female musicians, it's creepy. If the visuals in my videos are so non-revealing (showing hands only) that viewers can't even immediately tell it's a girl playing, so much the better. Although skinny little wrists are kind of a giveaway to anyone who's detail-oriented, but in any case by showing hands only there's less for viewers to inappropriately fixate on. I want viewers to pay attention to the *music* (such as it is) and not get hung up on irrelevant tangents.

    That reduces the number of idiotic "i love you, marry me" comments that I have to sift through and delete. Obviously though, I could approach it differently if I was making videos for the purpose of generating ad-revenue money or getting some sort of (unnecessary) ego boost via exploiting viewers' fantasies.

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    I find if one records or not, the biggest sin in playing ensemble, is poor time keeping.
    Absolutely agree!

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    Sometimes one can thow anything in there as long as it's to the beat. : )
    A lot of truth to that.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I could say a lot about the benefits in getting used to playing for your worst critic, i.e yourself, but I found a Tee shirt that says it all.

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Roy Clark made all kinds of mouth movements and goofy faces.......
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Lockdown has obliged many of us to do more things like Zoom, do video clips for Facebook or sometimes create instructional material.

    Even watching yourself speak (never mind play) can be harrowing enough. But I have noticed that smiling a lot more definitely seems to help all round.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    I agree video is a useful tool. It doesn't lie.

    I also find the SAW group to be enormously beneficial and have participated off an on since the beginning, life and schedule permitting. Committing to learning, videoing, and posting a new tune every week (now every other week), often something outside of what you would ordinarily play, develops new skills and shines a spotlight on old and persistent weaknesses.

    The catalog of errors revealed in a video! As mentioned, playing with too much tension, bad right hand technique, the tendency to raise the fingers of the left hand too high between notes, poor timing, poor tone, unintentionally muting the strings with the right palm, playing with the neck at a bad angle, bumbled phrasing, miss fretting ...

    So many challenges. How could this ever become boring?
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Another type of skill/game to play, is "first take." Or figure out how to get the best you can with the first take. This is the more closer to a performance, i feel. I've often said, the good stuff seems to cut through no matter the equipment quality. Same applies to the not-so-good stuff.

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Im the opposite of most of you. Whenever I hear a recording or a video of my playing, I always think it sounds better than when I was playing it. Not bragging at all, I just think Im my own worst critic.

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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Yes, but I don't want to look like I'm auditioning for Hee-Haw :-D

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    Have you noticed how many of us who post over on the SAW group and elsewhere leave our heads/faces out of the camera shot?
    Yes! There are thousands of headless musicians out there, especially fretted instrument players. The fiddlers can't make a video without seeing their faces unless they crop unbearably close. In addition to grimaces and drool there are those players who have the blank stares interspersed with strange looking smiles. It is probably better to look away from the camera altogether but that has its problems as well.

    I truly do need to at east record audio myself at least. I know my ears tend to smooth out my playing and I am convinced that I sound better than I am. I think it is an excellent way to improve the subtleties of one's playing. Not necessarily for public consumption but more for internal improvement.
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ostrander View Post
    I’m the opposite of most of you. Whenever I hear a recording or a video of my playing, I always think it sounds better than when I was playing it. Not bragging at all, I just think I’m my own worst critic.
    I agree with this. When I am playing I am noticing all sorts of minor errors, but when I listen to the recording afterwards those "mistakes" are not as noticeable as I expected

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: The merciless camera (recording ourselves as a reality check)

    Am another one that will record, and even post videos of my own playing. Or band playing. But I rarely if ever will listen to them again. Just cannot stand listening or watching myself. All I hear and see are the flaws. At no point will I ever consider my playing adequate, let alone good. From instrument, pick, string choice to angle of attack of the strings or even how I'm putting my fingers down, not to mention the notes and spaces in between the notes. All I have to work intensely on to improve.
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