Recording Yourself as a Regular Practice Habit (and the microphone I recommend)
If you already know you need a great microphone for your music practice recording and are looking for a USB mic and/or one that will work directly with your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod), then you can skip to the chase and check it out here.
But, I do want to take a moment to talk about why this practice tip is so powerful and why this microphone, in particular, is the right tool for the job.
Why record yourself?
Here are a few reasons why recording yourself in the practice room might be helpful?
- Recording yourself allows you to hear things you might not be hearing with the instrument in your hands.
- Hear what your teacher is hearing and fix things before your lesson.
- Listen for musicality and make sure what you are hearing in your head is what is coming out of the instrument.
- This practice habit never stops working, so you can do this throughout your entire career to grow as an artist!
Why is it hard to record yourself?
While this invaluable practice habit seems like a no-brainer, it actually can be a bit of a challenge.
Our inner critic is quick to label things as “good” or “bad”, and then feel a little disheartened with what we might be hearing.
I fell into this cycle in my undergraduate years and ended up avoiding recording myself because of it.
However, years later when I started using a recording device again to make artistic decisions (remember, recording yourself can be your ultimate teacher after you graduate). The whole process became much more enjoyable and effective once I realized that what I was hearing needed to be categorize as “not working” or “working”.
Remove the words “good” or “bad” from your vocabulary and make the process about collecting information. Then use that information to make difference decisions, record again, see if things are being executed the way you want, and repeat.
So what is this recording device your recommend and why?
When I first started recording myself in college I used a mini-disc recorder (omg!). At least it was a cassette disc?
It did the job, but it was challenging to listen back because I had to listen back with headphones on.
Fast forward to the age of smartphones and USB microphones, I’ve found the same challenge to be true. Most USB microphones require you have headphones plugged into the mic (or maybe the phone).
Then I had the SHURE MV88 recommended to me!
It has a lightning adapter that plugs directly into your iOS device and the best part is, you don’t need headphones to play back the sound!
Sound goes into you phone through the stereo microphone (input) and out through your device speakers (output).
This allows for a seamless practice session of quick recordings and quick playbacks without missing a beat (no time wasted on dealing with headphones).
This microphone is also great for recording social media clips as well, for the same reason.
1) One minor downside of this mic is that it didn’t work with my Otterbox case. I had to take the case off to insert the lighting connector.
My solution was to use a razor blade to gently remove part of the plastic around the bottom of the case so the microphone would fit. This allows me to leave the case on and use this microphone on a daily basis practice sessions.
2) Along the same lines, you can’t charge your phone while using the mic (since the microphone is plugged into the lighting port). This is only an issue if you let your phone get down to 1% battery like me. Solution: if your phone allows for magnetic charging, invest in a knock-off charging station like this one.
3) Last observation (still not a deal breaker though!), is that there isn’t an “indicator light” to show when it’s on. So, I use the MOTIV app to double check input volume and that it’s receiving power before recording on other apps.
Fyi…there is a more expensive version that also connects to your computer or phone, so you can still use this mic with other devices too for your music practice recording.
Also, you might be asking, can’t I just record myself through my phone? Yes, you can! In fact, I recommend this to my students all the time. You don’t need epic quality to make constructive decisions (in fact, you might be surprised about what you will hear just through a phone mic). However, the advantage of a professional quality microphone is that you’ll hear more. Especially if you are working on tone quality and a lot of nuances in your playing (and this iPhone mic is relatively inexpensive for the value of what you get!).