Recording your students – some thoughts

There was a posting on a LinkedIn group  about how to go about recording your students. Although the post was primarily about what gear to use, it sparked some thoughts about it. Here is what I shared with the group:

Remember that quality is a relative term here [I’ve spent significant time in recording studios]. If you are trying to capture an “album quality” piano sound, that’s one thing [and it would be overkill for this purpose, not to mention way too expensive!].

But getting a “good enough to hear what the student is actually doing” recording is fairly inexpensive these days – I’m actually recording parts of an album using an old iPod Nano + the Blue Mikey. It won’t be “national label” quality, but will certainly be good enough for my purposes. –> the album Preludes: Short, Improvised, and Live has several examples.

Once you have your gizmo in hand, I suggest experimenting with placement outside of the lesson first – a difference of 3 inches can make a world of difference in the sound. Develop several “standard” locations to place the mic – one for loud pieces, one where you really want to hear the hammers strike the strings, one for concentrating on the LH/lower strings, etc.

Another thing to work out – if the student [or parent/grandparent!] wants a copy, what’s the process for getting it to them? That will change depending on the gizmo and your equipment. I’ve recorded my students at times, burned it to CD, and the student gave it to their parents for Christmas. That was a big hit – but I did NOT have dozens to do!

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