Friday, August 25, 2006


Recording yesterday's lesson (#15)

My teacher was agreeable, so I hauled my laptop and microphone into the classroom at the church in Homer (along with my cello, my stack of music books, and my portable stool), hung the microphone on the music stand, turned on the computer, loaded Audacity, and pressed "Record".

Then we more or less forgot about it until we were done. The one-hour session used up about 500 MB of memory. After a brief learning curve convincing it to playback properly through my laptop (I had to tinker with a lot of volume settings - and uncheck a box marked "digital speaker"; and I had to adjust the gain slider in Audacity a bit), I was able to listen to the full session.

I was impressed with the remarkably good quality and full detail of the recording. I won't go into my impressions of my own playing (I promised I wouldn't), but it was interesting to hear us work through all the pieces - and to compare my teacher's cello to mine. It's interesting to compare the waveforms from when she plays a note to me playing the same note. Intonation aside, I can see that I have a very long way to go to master my bow.

My next step is to convert it to a wmv format and archive it onto a CD.

She made one suggestion that really hits home - after playing a piece, take a moment to figure out what went right and what sounded good, rather than focusing so much on what went wrong. Then, if I must, analyze why those parts went right.

In today's practice, I tried, I really did. But it's going to take some effort to acknowledge that the cup is half-full, rather than half-empty (in fact the engineer in me disagrees with both points of view, saying instead that the cup is obviously too big).

Well, I can tell you this. When I'm playing an assignment after I've had a lesson, I can remember how to recreate the spots where my teacher said "Oooo! that was nice" better than the corrections she gave me where things went wrong. Both are necessary but selective memory does seem to give the good stuff an advatage.
Just a thought, but I imagine it's possible that having the microphone too close to your instrument (like on the stand) will make the tone sound more harsh than it really is. By putting it several feet away, you'll get a better impression of what it sounds like to an audience.
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